I had known that being pregnant at age 36 would be more difficult than the ones when I was 28 and 31, but I had no idea just how difficult.
I was exhausted - all.the.time. I spent most of the day sleeping. I had no appetite, and little energy. Being off my ADHD meds made things worse. I was prone to anxiety and every little thing sent me into a tailspin. Especially once Dovi had his burn incident and the subsequent social services snafu, I stopped trusting my parenting. If he had the slightest hint of a scratch or a cough, I became hysterical and made a doctor's appointment immediately. The problem was, I didn't feel physically up to taking him to the doctor anymore, so the onus always fell on my husband.
In addition, Dovi's incessant need for sensory input and an endless craving for food - mostly ice cream - worsened the ever-present mess in the house.
Shabbos was the hardest. I had no full-time aide at the time -- a fact that still boggles my mind -- and I had no one to turn on his dvd player, blow bubbles for him, or do the many other things that kept him busy and out of trouble.
During the week, I had a pretty good setup. After all the advertising, phone calls, and interviewing I was always doing to find Com-Hab girls for Dovi, I had three lifesavers: Cerie, Toby, and Rachelle. Cerie took Dovi on Sunday and Wednesday; Rachelle had him on Monday; and Toby had him on Tuesday and Thursday. He went straight from TABAC via the ambulette to the com-hab's house. While I was often on the phone, busy begging the ambulette to go pick up Dovi already, as he was ripping TABAC apart and they had no one to watch him - by and large I was able to function well in the afternoons, since he only came home from the com-hab's house at around 6 p.m. Chaim went to play at a neighbor's house every afternoon as well, so I ended up having plenty of free, quiet time. You'd think that would help me run an efficient home, but no; I was always exhausted, and being a procrastinator by nature, would suddenly start cooking dinner at 5:30 pm. This led to some clashes with Leticia. More on that later.
I spent a large chunk of winter and spring fretting about what to do about Dovi's schooling for the upcoming year. Ultimately, the Hand of G-d led me to "School C", for which I'll have to think of a new name when I write about it in the future. It ended up being a great decision. I would have had a really hard time dealing with School A and a new baby; it would've been a similar continuation to the pressure I was still getting from TABAC. Boy, that year was rough. It's hard to think back.
The week leading up to Pesach of 2013 was Panic City for me; Toby informed me that she wouldn't take Dovi those days, and it led me into a tailspin of anxiety. I couldn't possibly handle Dovi on my own, and it would be really hard to find a replacement. Things got worse when Dovi woke up with fever. It ended up, ironically, being a blessing in disguise; he spent most of his day laying around lethargically and I was able to get all of my cooking done in record time. The downside was that my anxiety spun through the roof. He spent so much time sleeping that I was afraid that he was very sick. But it was a run-of-the-mill virus, which he had probably caught from Leticia, who was coughing and feverish a week earlier. I spent most of Pesach feeling sick to my stomach with anxiety, to the point that I called my therapist for an emergency session. (One of the triggers was Leticia, and I will address my deteriorating relationship with Leticia in two posts from now.) I couldn't be happer when Pesach was over and Dovi returned to TABAC, finally on the mend, after two weeks of off-and-on-fever and lethargy (with plenty of doctors' visits in the meantime, and Cerie being my right-hand helper through it all).
After Pesach I put on maternity clothing, and finally, my secret was out. I continued being exhausted and stressed, and eventually discovered that I had low iron and started supplementing. My primary source of stress was the big question of what to do with Dovi when I went to the hospital to give birth, and the first few weeks afterwards while I recovered. Part of the plan before I ventured forth with the attempt to have this baby was for Dovi to be at sleepaway camp. But that wasn't working out (as I will discuss in the next post), so I was desperately trying to formulate Plan B. Eventually I was able to arrange that Dovi would stay at the Respite House for 10 days, followed by 2 more weeks at Mrs. G. But I was still worried who would stay with him when I actually went to the hospital to give birth, which was obviously impossible to predict. I was also busy trying to convince The Clinic to let Dovi join their 3-week-long after-camp day program. Then I heard that TABAC was ending on August 9, while the end-of-summer Clinic program only started on August 12, which sent my brain racing again. The constant worrying took a huge toll on me.
In June, three pivotal events occurred, which would change the course of my life with Dovi forever. These three events were a mix of revealed good, hidden good, and long-term-super-concealed-good. These 3 events will be the focus of the next 3 posts.
The miraculous: Dovi got into summer camp.
The terrible-with-hidden-blessing: My relationship with Leticia unraveled to the point of no return.
The unthinkable-but-eventually-good: Pressure from well-meaning people to start considering placing Dovi ramped up to unbearable degrees.