Mostly, they were controlled by strong drugs such as Depakane (r) and Depakote (r) that she took from the time she was an adolescent. There really isn't any way I can squirm out of that one; I ingested a substance that washed pyridoxine, or B6, out of my body; and pryidoxine is required for the utilization of energy in the foods we each to produce red blood cells, and the proper functioning of nerves. Some research indicates that some epileptics respond well to large doses of B6. So, okay, I have long accepted by my poor diet and the birth control pills led to her life-changing epilepsy.
But the other day something caught my eye that I have been turning over in my mind since, because you see, my daughter Jane didn't just have epilepsy and its attendant problems that come from the drugs, such as a slower reaction time and a dulled IQ, which she absolutely hated, she also suffered from anti-social behavior and depressions and what I can only call "fantasy" stories in an attempt to draw attention to herself, and her pain. It was hard for her to operate normally in the world without creating enormous drama around herself. People, it was exhausting. I loved her very much, but it was exhausting to be around her. I wish I could say it wasn't like that.
And neither was my pregnancy stress free. Once the doctor told me I wasn't pregnant--until I was sure I was, nearly five months later--I assuredly didn't live in gloom and doom. I kept my job (that I loved), working side by side with Jane's father (the man I loved), as The Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, New York. I had a corner apartment to myself that I thought was swell, and drove a convertible Karmann Ghia, which I was still making payments on. As long as I wasn't pregnant, everything was fine. Not that I ate that well, and I smoked a tad (but didn't inhale), and had a drink most nights with my BLT that usually served as dinner. Not a great environment for a baby. But I have been long time vitamin taker, and did take some multiple vitamin, which may have saved my baby from a worse fate.
But it wasn't until the other day that the full implication of the fetal environment hit me as I read this paragraph by Emily Laber-Warren in Psychology Today:
If a woman is anxious for months at a time—say she's in a troubled marriage is financially strapped—high levels of the stress hormone cortisol may reach her fetus. Such a fetus doesn't need as many brain receptors to sense the hormone's presence, so it develops fewer. But having fewer cortisol receptors changes a person's ability to cope in later life. The cortisol system has its own shut-off valve; when cortisol levels in the bloodstream reach a certain point, the body stops making the hormone and everything returns to normal. But people with fewer receptors don't sense that it's time to stop making cortisol until they're practically swimming in it. Living with high levels of cortisol not only creates wear and tear on the body but also makes it tough to handle strong emotions without lashing out or withdrawing, and it may set people up for depression. (emphasis added).
|Jane and Lorraine in 1982|
Lisa, the daughter she gave up for adoption, told me the other day that in Jane's file she received not long ago from the state of Wisconsin, it was already noted there that Jane had suicidal tendencies. I was not surprised, because I'd lived through some of them, though none of them occurred in New York when she was living with me and my husband, Tony. Not surprised, now, just resigned, just sad. Regular readers here know Jane took her life in December of 2007.
We at First Mother Forum hear from many first/birth mothers who have fractured relationships with their found children, with whom they are reunited. We know of having to watch our words so we don't say the wrong thing that sets them off and makes them angry with us. We know of always being a big fearful of how to react to them, what we can ask them, what we cannot. Given what I know today, I had a better relationship with Jane, on and off, than most have with their reunited children; yet it was rarely easy, and just when I thought it got that way--easy--something would happen and she'd withdraw all over again.
We've argued here over Primal Wound--does it exist or doesn't it--I don't want to start that argument again; but there is a great yawning gulf between how we mothers can react to the children we've raised and the children we didn't but meet years later. I had no other children, like fellow blogger Jane did, but I've listened to enough women to know the relationship that was cut by adoption is mostly likely, not truly repairable. The wound being relinquished causes is deep, lasting, primal.
And we are both the wounded, mother and child.--lorraine
I need to get a copy of the above book, How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul, because it discusses the effects of the first nine months of life in detail.