Hey, remember when I used to be cool(er) and listen to music with words?
Those were the good old days.
Everything about Mike’s and my relationship from the moment we met felt very much within our control, in a really delightful way. There hadn’t been any obstacles to our dating, to our engagement, or to our marriage. Sure, there was work to be done, conversations to be had, misunderstandings and disagreements to resolve, but everything at every moment felt right, and we felt as though we could and would do whatever we put our minds to.
When we found out we were pregnant for the first time last March, we didn’t immediately feel entirely out of control. We had decided to take a ‘we’ll see what happens’ approach to our first year of marriage, and the news was exciting and new, but not unexpected. We were thrilled and a little overwhelmed, but completely unaware of how little control we had.
In a few months, when we lost that pregnancy, we knew exactly how little control we had, and we quickly learned how very much we had to lean on in the absence of control: one another, our family, our friends, and our faith. I don’t think we were aware that we— or I should probably say, I— had been desperately and thoughtlessly clinging to the idea that we had precise control over every aspect of our lives, and certainly those things that were most important to us.
Then followed a few months that in reality flew by but in our minds dragged on and on. I tried every single possible way to regain the control I felt I had lost in the months prior. I wanted to control the narrative of my loss, to control the ease with which we would begin again, to control the very functions of my body through detailed recordkeeping and data gathering. And each month I was reminded that I just couldn’t, just didn’t— that all the effort in the world wouldn’t magically effect change.
In August, we decided to take a break from temperature-taking and charts and schedules. We went on vacation, I drank some beers and ate a moon pie for lunch on my birthday, we went swimming and bowling and I learned that I was really, really afraid of bees. I took a pregnancy test out of habit, and then promptly forgot to check it. The next morning, I realized I had left it out overnight, made a grossed out face, and started to toss it in the wastebasket— at which point I noticed a second, positive line. I took four more just to be sure, and we jumped around and giggled for a solid half hour.
The worrying took over soon after, making each day of my first trimester (compounded by intense, crippling nausea) feel like a thousand years. Worrying is its own means of control, a way to feel as though you are doing something when you absolutely can’t do anything. If I could worry and stew every waking moment, then surely nothing would slip by me, no little sign of distress or impending doom. Worrying was my way of knocking on wood every moment of every day.
Once my second trimester started, I still worried, but a little less every day. I found myself exclaiming to Mike, “I think this is really going to happen!” including at highly inappropriate times, like during our anatomy ultrasound when I turned to the technician and said, “I think we’re actually going to have a baby!”
After that ultrasound, during which our wiggly bean felt rather modest about showing off all four chambers of her heart, they scheduled a follow up to get a better look, and mentioned that there might be something a little off with the uterine lining, though it was probably nothing. For the first time maybe ever, but certainly in the last four months, I didn’t worry about it.
We went back four weeks later and bean showed off all four of those chambers like a champ, but that strange little area near the placenta hadn’t gotten any less strange. It could be nothing, our doctor assured us, but it also could be something, and she wanted us to know that that something could have a significant impact on our birth- up to and including an early c-section and a hysterectomy. I trusted her implicitly, and the odds were in our favor— the condition she suspected is most often found in women who have had multiple c-sections, and my chances were statistically minimal—but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she had seen something— another something in a long line of somethings that I had zero control over. Come back in four weeks, she said, and we would have a better idea of how to proceed.
Within hours, it was back to constant worry, to a state of flux that felt, on the one hand, totally unjustified, and on the other hand, like an inadequate reaction to the looming possibilities.
I couldn’t do any exercises, take any vitamins, or read any books to make myself NOT have a particular condition, and while it was infuriating, it was also exceptionally comforting to realize the kind of trust I had placed in my doctors, and to find that trust held true in the face of my fear. Because I’m a nut job, I had my birth plan written at 20 weeks, the first line of which reiterated that our primary goal was to leave the hospital with a healthy mom and baby, and pledged flexibility to meet that end. Far early than I had expected, I found that- in spite of my inner monologue- that was still true, and I was capable of flexibility and trust.
Yesterday my doctor called with the results of the follow up ultrasound: a delightfully unremarkable scan, normal on all counts. So normal, in fact, that the technician was confused as to why on earth the doctor would want her to record so many images. I was boring my doctor to tears, and I couldn’t have been happier. We’ll go for another follow up, just to be sure, but all signs point to ‘Calm down and trust your body, Sascha,’ which I’ll be working to do over the next 25 years or so.
It’s only 40 weeks, and we’re facing at least a few decades of feeling roundly trampled by a lack of control. I can’t help but feel grateful that we’ve been dragged through a little mud over the last year, because we’re better for it, more prepared to be totally unprepared for what lies before us.