Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Part Two: The Fingernail Marks

We moved to beautiful Chiang Mai, Thailand when I was eight months pregnant with our second child (yes - conceived while on birth control!). We had the usual stress and strain of culture shock; I just thought I had it worse than most people. I have a distinct memory of putting Maggie to bed then curling up in the fetal position at the end of her bed sobbing and praying that somehow Chris would know to come home.

The complete and total rage I felt during this time shocked me. One minute, I would be wiping up some spill or another. The next, I was letting whatever shelf or counter was nearby feel my wrath via the wet towel. This is also when the dreams started. Every night I dreamed of breaking various items in various ways. I woke up in the mornings with deep fingernail marks on my palms. Then sleep began to elude me.

I attributed all of these feelings to culture shock and stress... and to my own weaknesses.  I had no reason not to. Wasn't being pregnant supposed to be one of the happiest moments in your life? I had felt so good when I was pregnant with Maggie. I was living out my dreams of being a missionary. I was married to a wonderful man. My eldest daughter was a jewel. But I had made my conclusions: I'm just a complete failure. This is my fault. I am just not tough enough to be a missionary.

After a few weeks, I became so depressed that even my long suffering husband, himself dealing with culture shock, started to need time away from my incessant complaining and tears. This hurt, and I fell into despair. I watched movies to escape myself. But movies end, and you're still there. There was no relief.

Our sweet Melanie was in no rush to arrive, so we finally had to induce. When she arrived, the joy she brought with her was overwhelming. That night, Maggie and Melanie slept in the hospital bed with me, but I had not slept that well in what felt like forever! Even the nurses coming in every hour (yes...every hour...) to check on me and baby Melanie could not disturb the feeling of happiness that had returned.

A few days later, our little girl was diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis. It was already in her cord fluid. The doctor was so alarmed, he would not even let me leave the hospital to pick up Chris. There were tears, yes. But that dark feeling of sadness and the uncontrollable crying did not come. I have such fond memories of our time in the hospital and the rest of our time in Thailand. Maybe I could do this whole missionary thing!

Prior to our departure back to the States, I went and had another Mirena implanted.

This changed the course of our marriage and brought about circumstances that have taken us years to heal from. 

See the Introduction and Part One 


  1. Whoa. This is my story. Except instead of dreams of breaking things, for me it was jumping off the balcony. I didn't have any desire to kill myself, but I was afraid to go out on the balcony, just in case. And I knew I should be so happy! I had been with my first pregnancy, why not the second?

    Also, it went away as soon as she was born. I remember how strange and wonderful it felt to be happy again.

  2. Phyllis, you are the first person I have met with such a similar experience! Wow!