“Wake up. You have got to see this!” That is how I woke up one spring morning. I barely moved as I was so exhausted from nursing our newborn child. Introducing Zane. He and I have a special bond after everything we endured together. From his first kick, I could tell this baby was different from Vivian. He was very comforting to me during all those crazy times. Like a good friend, he just seemed to hug me but from the inside.
We decided not to find out our baby’s gender but I had a feeling it was a little boy. And I was right. Zane was such a gentle baby, a true gift from God which is how we decided upon his name. He had an ear infection which made nursing difficult. So I had been up all night. Crawling into bed at 4:00 a.m., I was woken back up at 5:30 a.m. by Vivian wanting cereal. And now here my husband stood, trying to get me out of the bed. “Come here now!” he said.
Begrudgingly, I put on my contacts and got out of bed. As I walked down the hallway, I could see sunlight streaming in through all our windows. I immediately recoiled and started walking backwards muttering, “No, no! You have opened all the blinds. Crazy is going to see us.”
“It’s ok. I promise. Just walk forward and look. I swear it’s ok.” I took one look at his face and knew something was up. Slowly tip-toeing forward, I peered just past our hallway where I could see a moving truck parked in Crazy’s driveway. Now you would think this would be cause to celebrate. But back then, I wasn’t about to assume anything. “They must be moving” my husband said next.
“Until I see someone else moving into that house, I can’t even get excited. We have no idea what is going on. They could be starting renovations or something. Moving out temporarily…” my voice trailing off as I walked back into our bedroom. As I laid in bed, I had tears streaming down my face. I had prayed solidly for a year that our psycho neighbor would move. And finally, it looked as if it might be happening.
Shockingly, the moving truck left within one hour. Who on earth moves an entire house within one hour? Crazy people do. That’s who. The second the truck left, neighbors started milling about on our front porch asking if they really moved. How the heck should we know? It’s not like we ever talked to them. As the neighborhood curiosity grew, we finally allowed a neighbor to stand on our fence, where they could see into the house. Yep, the house was empty. And Crazy was gone. Just like that. In one hour. Flat.
I have a lot of empathy for anyone having to endure such a situation. Had I not experienced it myself, I would have never known the depths of how being harassed affects you. What made this situation especially hard was that it occurred at our home. Your home should be your sanctuary. A place where you recharge your batteries. A place where you can relax. I had none of that during my pregnancy and following Zane’s birth. None.
I wish I could say I handled it well but the reality is, the stress took a major toll on my health. I landed in three ER’s with unexplained symptoms. And finally was admitted to Cedars Sinai where they ran every test known to man. They suspected multiple sclerosis. Then Lyme disease. Then a major nutritional deficiency from nursing. Twenty thousand dollars later, I was finally diagnosed with a heart condition which was brought upon solely from…..stress.
As I laid in the hospital, I told my husband I didn’t want to return home. Being in the hospital was the first time I had ever been away from V. And the first time, I had ever been away from all the harassment. I couldn’t handle doing everything by myself anymore. And I felt I couldn’t keep up with the demands of parenthood. Volunteering at V’s school and managing our household. The sleepless nights and fast paced days had taken its toll. The doctors wanted to start me on heart medications but I refused. I never needed them before. Plus it wasn’t safe for nursing. If this was caused by stress, then I needed to fix what was stressing me out. Not placate me with medications.
Sitting in my hospital room, I stared into my husband eyes and told him, “I need help. I am burned out. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve never had a day off since Vivian was born. And now we have Zane. I can’t keep up.”
“I will get some help. I will hire a cleaner and find a babysitter so you can have a break.” Looking back, I realize I put a lot of stock into those words. And I do think that he meant it at the time. But like all families, once you get back home, you get busy again. Life resumes. And we were no different. Upon discharge, I came home. He went back to work. Nothing changed.
But that is where my resentment grew from.
That is what it took.