I wrote this when I was 26 weeks and 4 days pregnant with our Theo. He kept us on our toes the entire pregnancy — even though we did end up getting a great fetal echo result that next day. Some of this seems very appropriate to this moment. Some of it seems a little sad. Anyway, it finally felt right to share it. So here it is.
Let’s talk about uncertainty.
I’m feeling very uncertain these days. Nothing about pregnancy has been what I imagined it would be. I expected that if I ever miraculously got that positive pregnancy test, all my uncertainty about my future, my family, my faith would simply wash away.
That hasn’t been the case.
I keep waiting for the next hurdle to pass. Once I get to 12 weeks, then I can relax. Okay, maybe 14 weeks? 20 weeks, definitely. We’ll get the ultrasound and I’ll feel at ease. Can’t see everything on the 20 week scan? Maybe the 24 week re-do will give us peace of mind?
And on and on and on.
We have a fetal echo scheduled for next week, and I’m terrified I’ll learn this little baby boy is sick — possibly irreparably. All the uncertainty floods in. How will I be able to handle that? Will I be able to handle that? Will he live? Will he be able to learn and grow and feed himself and play t-ball? Will I live? Will my life go on? How could God do this to me? Haven’t I been through enough already?
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. That’s why my anxiety tries so hard to tell me it knows what the future will look like. My anxiety says, “Hey, we knew something hard was coming. It always is. And, hey, this is your life now. Might as well get used to it. Might as well grieve it. You should probably stop putting together the nursery. And you should probably stop putting together a baby registry. This isn’t going to happen for you. Not really. Not the way it happens for other people. It never does. Not for you.”
My anxiety is a kind of a jerk and is definitely a liar. I know this. I know it makes me think I’m preparing my body, mind and soul for devastating news. I know it thinks that this prior worry will leave me better off — that it’ll somehow protect me. But I also know that it’s not true. No amount of worrying about infertility before I was diagnosed made receiving the diagnosis any easier. Life doesn’t really work like that. You can’t pre-mourn a traumatic event to get it over with. You have to face everything head-on. One step at a time. And no amount of pre-angst, pre-worry, pre-anxiety, pre-grief will help you not feel the bad stuff when something actually happens.
And, guess what, the bad stuff might not even happen. It’s true. There is every reason to believe that baby’s heart is just fine. That his positioning just made it tough to see everything the doctors needed to see. That he’s just kind of being a trouble-maker for us. (I’ve secretly always wanted a little trouble-maker anyway. Precisely because it’s exactly what I am not.)
And so. Here we are. Living in the midst of uncertainty. But, really, aren’t we all? And maybe there is some comfort in that, at least. We all don’t know together. And maybe that’s why anxiety tries really hard to tell me that I shouldn’t reach out when I am feeling this way. That I shouldn’t share these thoughts with others. Anxiety thrives in the darkness of my own mind and is weakened by shining light on it — which is why I fight so hard to do the opposite of what my anxiety tells me to do. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I need my people there with me.
Life offers no guarantees. A perfect fetal echo that shows a perfectly operating heart isn’t even a guarantee. It’s just another brief sigh of relief. As the — undoubtedly high — yelling person walking on my street shouted last week: “All we’ve got is this day. You want tomorrow? Then you want today.”
While there is certainly an understandable anxiety in this moment, there is also an understandable joy. We can’t let one overpower the other all the time even though I’m unreasonably good at letting the anxiety overpower. But I’m working hard to fight it. There has to be a balance and a mix. Two seemingly conflicting emotions can and do exist in one heart. Some days are more anxious. Some days are more joyful. But, overall, there is balance. There is little in life we can actually control. All we’ve got is this day. This time. These feelings. These people. This joy. This grief. This balance. And it’s this stuff in this moment that prepares us for the next moment.
To mix metaphors even further: You can’t control the wave. All you can do it get really good at riding it and strong enough to get back on the surfboard when you get knocked down.
So, this last weekend, we installed a new light in the nursery and got new drapes. One moment. This moment. This baby boy.