The last time I was in Jamaica, I got pregnant. Or may have. But you already know about my fuzzy math, so I may be a week or so off. Things seemed pretty good with one of those funny cigarettes and a couple of Red Stripes, and well, my metaphorical tide was high, and we wanted to move on with our life after what had been a damaging previous few months. I’d been in one of my manic phases (and off meds), and one night, while in New York City, I got entirely too drunk which always takes me to desperate, dark places, and this time was no different. Suffice it to say my husband had to drive around the island of Manhattan for a good hour because I threatened to jump out of the car and hurl myself off a bridge. Any of the nine bridges would do. Knowing I’m prone to damaging, impulsive actions, Christopher took me at my word and waited me out until I fell asleep. Because I am here, writing this, it is safe to assume his patient perseverance saved me, as so often is the case.
Once I sobered up from drink and mood, I landed on me feet in Jamaica. Negril Beach to be exact. I was swept up in the giddy hangover (Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Bah! Yay, Life!) that always surfaces after having survived a knock down-drag out fight with IT. So that trip was all about restoration and relaxation and what better way to hold Life close then to give life? After all, my first pregnancy had been a dream: off my meds, content with my growing body, in love with that she-creature somersaulting inside me. And for some crazy reason, things stayed in balance. No radical mood changes, no obsessing over weight, no IT whispering its suicidal message. I felt at home in myself.
And so, the second time around, I believed that a pregnancy conceived in sunset and sand and sanity could only assure equilibrium. After all, in Jamaica,I was happy, again, to be making sweaty, giggly love with my husband; happy, again, to walk the beach, to swim out in the blue water and feel the insistent pull back to shore; happy, again, to wake in the morning and drink my cup of Blue Mountain coffee on the beach and watch the day unfold; happy, again, to be beside my husband, to imagine our second child, to be, at the heart of it, alive.
Of course, I love my son and even knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done anything different. But as I’ve recounted already for you, that pregnancy and subsequent post-partum year were nothing short of hell. I should have studied the statistics: for pregnant and post-partum bipolar woman, the risk of relapse into mania and psychosis is 50% and 75%, respectively. And because of my devotion to breast feeding, I refused any meds that might have helped cushion the fall. And I fell all the way down.
I am up, now, and on my feet. And yet despite the obvious pleasure this current Jamaica trip promises, it is bittersweet. Lately, I’ve been possessed by the quiescent desire for another child. I’d always imagined myself having three, a lovely trinity, but because of what happened as a result of pregnancy #2, it has been deemed best that I make do. These days, though, I ache for that life which could be growing inside of me. For instance: a few weeks ago, a woman and her five week old baby were at my house for dinner, and the baby was passed between one cutchy-cooer and another. I refused to look at that baby, couldn’t put my arms out to hold him because to do so would open up that well of inexplicable but instinctual desire. Another, please? One more to love? Mostly I’ve made my peace: I need the meds, I need my family, and my children (the ones I have) need me. Alive.