Last week was a sad week. A friend (the sister of very close friends of ours) died after struggling with depression and bi-polar disease for almost 20 years. Her son is ten years old, and every time I think of him, I get teary. Every time I think of her family and their pain, I get teary. And yesterday, as I was going through baby clothes, trying to get organized, I found the itsy bitsy teensy weensy sweater that this friend knit for Stella four years ago, and I got all teary.
I am no stranger to depression. I understand that kind of desperation, and it scares me. Before we had Stella, I used to worry about it all the time. I worried that with depression on my side of the family and schizophrenia on D.’s side, we would be mixing a dangerous gene cocktail for our children. But I guess my wish for children was stronger than my fear, because eventually we decided to go ahead and try.
Over the last few years, more general parental worries have filled my mind, and though I didn’t forget about the depression and mental illness—its power—I was somehow able to put it on the back burner. Not this week. All week, I held Stella too long, squeezed her too tightly, checked on her too often as she slept, just wanting to keep her safe.
By Friday afternoon, after the very sad funeral, I was exhausted. I wished I had had a little energy left to celebrate my 35 weeks of pregnancy or the fact that I am alive—that 16 years ago depression did not kill me (though it almost did)—but I was too tired. So, I slept and I ate and D. and I brought up the changing table from the basement and washed baby clothes and cleaned the house and bought diapers and wipes and began to prepare for something joyful: a new baby.
After all the worry of this pregnancy, it seems crazy that I’m actually going to have a baby. I’m still careful. I still don’t want to get too excited, but I’m letting go of the worry, just a little, because I need that happiness, and I’m tired of being scared.
I know that there will always be something about which to fret. There will always be something about which to be watchful. But for now—for the next few weeks—I just want to be excited, to be happy, and let everything else fall away.