Pregnant and Sober
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I haven’t been writing or engaging on my Soberish social media too much lately. Two, three months ago, a fire had been lit under me. I was immersing myself in my sobriety: engaging with the sober community, soul-searching and unpacking all the baggage from the years before. The work was interesting to me. It inspired me. Writing became my own treat to myself, a much-needed outlet to replace old, destructive ones. It mattered to me. It was important.

Things got complicated, as they so often do. My passion project became interrupted by visits to the doctor. I was trying to get back on my anxiety medications because I was struggling and beginning to revert to old patterns like posting up on the balcony, chain smoking and drinking Diet Pepsi after a hard day’s work. The medication wasn’t agreeing with me. I felt sick to my stomach and wasn’t holding down food. My emotional state swung between apathetic and despondent. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t write. Something was off.

And so it was by suggestion, a whim really, that before I got into the shower one day I decided to tick one remote possibility off the list. Why was I having such a hard time? This hadn’t happened before. I stripped down, took out the little plastic stick, popped off the cap and took a piss. Two minutes and two little lines later, my world irrevocably changed.

There is an immense shift in the universe between the three minutes you were shooting the shit with your husband between Marlboro’s and Diet Pepsi and two little lines appearing on a plastic stick. You call out his name, scaring him, stick in hand, and trying to say “I’m pregnant” in a way that makes it feel true. The world goes into a bit of tail spin because it doesn’t seem possible. Hadn’t you had a period? What now? Next come doctors and blood tests and confirmations and talk of due dates and vitamins. Next come conversations with your mother and the slow crawl of time through the danger zone of the next ten weeks.

That was nearly two months ago and I haven’t been able to get back to myself since. It has been a difficult first trimester. When you’re missing work two or three days a week because there is bleeding and you’re thirty-five with a medically elderly uterus, or stuck with your head in a toilet because you haven’t kept food down in over a week, and some days too weak to walk from the couch to the bathroom without getting lightheaded, sobriety seems so irrelevant. Of course I’m not drinking alcohol. I can hardly stomach water. Plus there’s a life to consider.

When you’re so pumped full of hormones that you can’t watch television without choking up, and your nausea screams so loudly from your belly that you can hardly think straight, what can I authentically say about steering clear of whiskey at a time like this? When you’ve just been released from the hospital and are on the second week of bed rest, but that little guy or gal continues to grow and persist despite the wreckage of the mother, what could I write that wouldn’t seem silly or trite now that the world is upside down?

I don’t have anything insightful today to offer about sobriety. Truth be told, I can’t imagine even touching a glass of alcohol now. I can hardly stomach the thought of eighty percent of food I once loved. Even that beloved Diet Pepsi turns my stomach, though I do occasionally dream that I grab a cigarette and light up and then become horrified when I remember that I’m pregnant. (For the record, I have not smoked since the day I found out.)

Am I cured? Not a chance. I know the monster lies in wait and whenever this initial storm passes, and I feel like a human again, it will come back to tempt me. How ironic that a troubled first trimester should feel like an eternal hang over?

I know that when the baby is born and it’s been almost a year since my last drink, the little voice that says “See! All better now” will return. She will poke and prod and I will try to be ready for her because the stakes have changed now. I’ve got another person to consider who will rely on me and need me to be functioning. Has there ever been such a frightening thing?

I hope to be back soon, unpacking, sorting, and sharing. I still have work to do; I know that. If I let my progress towards sobriety stay idle during this pregnancy, I won’t be prepared when the pressures of motherhood start to feel overwhelming and I begin looking for tiny escapes. I’m working on getting the spark back, a tricky task when your days are spent trying not to move too much and keep your food down. Forgive me if my topics start to feel a little scattered. It’s at least a very honest reflection of my internal world right now. The journey has changed quite a bit.

What can I say? Life comes at your fast.

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Alicia is an American expat, writer living in the Middle East. She chronicles the highs and lows of early sobriety on her site www.soberish.co. To contact, please e-mail contact@soberish.co.

10 thoughts on “Hiatus

  1. What amazing gifts you have been given. Not just a new life, but YOUR life. I quit smoking when I saw those two lines the first time and it made it all the easier for me. Reframing my 13 year old (and his 10 year old brother) as being helpless against my habits has helped me quit the alcohol without him being inside me. 😉
    You’ve got this!

  2. Alicia, I have been sober for almost 27 years. In the beginning I couldn’t imagine making it a month, let alone 27 years. Once I had my children,it was actually easier not to drink. Though I never let myself forget that I am an alcoholic, when I looked at each one as infants, I thought, “I have so much to teach you. I don’t want to teach you to drink.”It helped. You will be fine, though I am sorry you are having such a rough pregnancy. If you need to talk, write, whatever, you can contact me.I know how it is. Truly.

  3. Wow – what news indeed! My wife went through all sorts of phases when pregnant. The one thing that was constant was her need for watermelon. I must have cut up about 40 or 50 watermelons while she carried our boy. It was madness. The other thing was that she hated any of my colognes or deodorants. Smells bothered her. It’s a funny thing.
    Anyway, hopefully it will settle down these things for you. I hope so! It’s interesting – even the most ardent alcoholics I know, when they were pregnant, stopped drinking during pregnancy. Not to say that all women stop (see stats on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), but it’s amazing how a life within just shifts everything.

    Blessings to you 🙂

    Paul (aka Nacho Ricardo)

    1. Thank you Paul! My food situation has been weird. I will be able stomach something one week and then be disgusted by it the next. Hoping it all eases up soon as I head into round 2. 😊

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