*To all the “Nancys” out there, I do apologize for the title above. This post is not meant to target any particular Nancy, but simply comes from my appreciation of alliteration. Think “Debbie Downer.” If you are a Nancy who also happens to be negative, I take no responsibility for that. You, my dear Nancy, are on your own…
I enjoy planning. I like lists. I like lists so much I could make a list about why I like them. (I won’t, but I thought I should mention that I could). Lists are soothing. They are like a security blanket embroidered with the words, “Yes! I know what needs to be done and by writing it down I’ve shown you that I am completely capable of accomplishing every task! Never fear!” Generally, my lists are very traditional: To do (classic!), grocery (delicious!), pro/con (a decision making MUST!).
Recently though, my lists have been titled: questions for neurosurgeon, questions for neonatologist, questions for insurance, questions for OB, questions for MFM, or just simply “questions.” Questions are taking the happy out of my planning love and it seems that “assume nothing” has become my emotional motto.
I started this pregnancy thing with some very positive lists about why I didn’t need to worry. For example:
Why Mary Evelyn doesn’t need to be one of those stressed-out-pregnant-ladies-who-call-their-doctor-every-time-they-feel-funny-even-though-it’s-probably-just-gas:
- Most babies are born healthy, so why worry!
- Mary Evelyn is young! The chance of having trouble in this pregnancy is slim.
- Mary Evelyn is healthy so surely the baby will be too.
- Everyone in her family has healthy babies so why wouldn’t she?
Now, I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy* but this list doesn’t exactly jive with what we learned three months ago. I remember saying, more than once, to my doctor when she gave us the diagnosis, “But, Greg and I are both young, so…” I let that “so…” really drag out while my hand spun in the air, prompting her in case she just needed time to change the prognosis. As if she might look down at my chart and exclaim, “Oh! I apologize. Yes I see here that you are both young and healthy so never mind what I said before. Case closed!” But, she didn’t say any of this. In fact, I think she looked at me like I was a little nuts.
I was disappointed. I had planned for all to be well, I had thought ahead, I had followed the rules. I had made lists, for heaven’s sake! I felt foolish. I had been, prancing around for the past 2 months showing off how relaxed I was. I had said knowing phrases like, “Women have healthy babies everyday. Chill out!” And all the while my son was nestled inside of me with a spine that just couldn’t close up. I felt embarrassed for not knowing something was wrong and frightened that there was nothing I could do to change it. I felt foolish for thinking my baby would be healthy. Remembering my grief those first few weeks terrifies me. I had lost the child that all my lists were about and I grieved for the son I had created in my mind–the son I was never meant to have.
So now my lists are comprised of questions and for me that’s okay. I am excited about my baby. I no longer see Spina Bifida as a doomsday scenario. I believe Simeon will accomplish wonderful things. I love him. But still, I don’t want to have my plans crushed like they were before. I don’t want to be disappointed. I want to be prepared for the worst and surprised by the best. I am guarding my emotions. I am not a Negative Nancy*. Let’s call me a Realistic Ralph or a Prepared-for-anything-Patricia.
So here’s a list before I end–a list of how my thinking has changed:
- Instead of saying “when” I say “if.”
- Instead of saying “we will” I say “we will do our best.”
- And instead of saying “let’s fix this” I say “Thy will be done.“