On authenticity and blogging and fear

Often I debate with myself how much to reveal on this blog and how much to keep hidden behind that secret garden door in my heart. On the one hand, this is a place where I deliberately curate wonder and beauty. Little surprises, thoughtful creations. That's why I call this blog "messages in bottles." I am a writer and I blog to share with you what I do but also what I find. What inspires me in the world. And so very much inspires me. On the other hand, I want to be honest with you. And just because wonder and beauty continue in the world every day doesn't mean my life is 100 percent wonder and beauty all the time. Far from it! I don't edit the other parts of my life out of this blog to build a fake impression, it's just that I believe there's a time and a place. This is not my personal journal.

So finding authenticity on this blog is something I have been struggling with for a while. How much do I reveal? How much is appropriate? I know I'm not alone in wrestling with this question, and have had some wonderful email conversations on this issue recently with Brandi Bernoskie of Not Your Average Ordinary, who is a lot wiser than me and has taken more time to ponder this issue more closely.

A few nights ago we had a friend staying with us, so we took the dog on a lovely walk as the sun set, up to Lygon Street. Rain began to spatter as we got there, so we stopped for dumplings (I've always loved dumplings but they have become my #1 go-to food since I've been pregnant), eating at the tables outside under the big umbrellas. While we were there the rain came down in earnest, followed by a storm. At one point, one of the umbrellas tipped up in the wind, much to our consternation. But it made for a fun adventure. "Just like camping," Mr B said. He doesn't get out of the city much. We walked back home in the rain, and listened to it pour outside all night while we stayed cosy and warm in our beds.

Just as I was at the point of drifting off, I was woken up by heart palpitations in my throat. Severe, choking palpitations, as well as trembling, difficulty breathing, and a vertiginous feeling that I was going to pass out. Dramatically. My legs and feet felt strange and not-quite-numb. I felt for the baby, who would normally kick at this time of night, but Baby B was quiet. I made myself relax and try to sleep.

The heart palpitations and other symptoms happened several times more that night, and I can tell you it is very strange to be woken up by the very sense that you are going to pass out. Baby kicked once or twice in the wee hours of the morning but then went quiet. Things got easier when the sun came up, but as I took myself back out to Crafternoon for lunch that day, it happened again. The palpitations. The uncontrollable shaking. The waves of dizziness and nausea. I was so afraid I would pass out or have a fit or something right there in the cafe, that I abruptly paid my bill and almost ran out the door. They must have thought I was very strange.

Back home, I looked up my What to Expect book. I looked up Dr Internet. Again and again, a thyroid condition came up. One to which you are particularly prone when you are pregnant. One that if left unchecked can cause disabilities in your child, or even miscarriage or premature birth. I called my obstetrician. She didn't hit the panic button, which was a relief, but she didn't dismiss my symptoms either. She told me to get my blood pressure checked. She asked when baby had last kicked. She added a few extra tests to the standard blood test I was booked in for next Wednesday. She told me I could call or come and see her on the weekend if I needed to, or come by on Monday if I was still worried.

Things compounded yesterday. The dog had damaged his back legs and couldn't jump up, and I worried he had a tick. (We took him to the vet who did a procedure I won't put down here because it was gross, but fingers crossed the dog seems better today. No tick.) I had my blood pressure taken and it wasn't high, but in fact a bit on the low side. Still I was very worried. All day I managed without the heart palpitations, but had more than one wave of severe dizziness, followed by the sense that I was about to pass out. I poked and prodded at my belly. "Wake up baby, are you ok in there?" No response all day. That was the hardest part.

I had a deadline but I had to stop work early because I kept getting dizzy. The dog was subdued. By night time, Mr B started to get all agitated and angry out of the blue. I didn't understand what was going on, and in my overwrought state I ended up in tears. I realised later on that the stresses of the past few days had weighed on Mr B, too, and rather than react to those (he had been wonderful and was trying to be calm for me), he was over-reacting to tiny irritations instead.

It is such a fearful time when you are responsible for a tiny life, and you do everything you can but some factors are out of your understanding or control. I remember very early in my pregnancy, a friend of ours said "I looked for blood every day of my pregnancies, and now I worry about my children crossing the road or eating something bad or meeting someone evil." Strangely enough, that comforted me at the time. I guess worry is as much a part of the entire parenthood journey as is love.

I barely slept last night, but that was because Baby B kicked me like a champion from about 2am until I got up. I guess that, whatever is going on with my body, things are A-OK in that little life. I'm still going to see my OB on Monday and take the extra tests, but I feel a little more like myself again today. Those precious, precious kicks.

My life is full of beauty and wonder, and I am incredibly lucky. But, probably just like yours, my life is also full of stress and sickness and trips to the vet and bickering with people you love and the great, gory fear of the unknown. I guess you can call this post a confession. Or perhaps I am using you as my journal, after all. Either way, I feel better for sharing. So thank you. Our regular programming will resume shortly.