I’ve thought a lot about filters lately.
How to sort out stories that are not ours but fill up so many spaces in our lives.
How to separate necessity from what is superfluous.
Here on this blog, how to incorporate the life-changing event of our daughter’s birth while keeping up a blog dedicated primarily to chronic illness.
How to discuss parenting and chronic illness while still maintaining my daughter’s privacy.
Today, at least, the thread that connects some of this is natural.
This week, I returned the digital scale we had to rent for a few weeks to carefully monitor the baby’s weight. Without getting bogged down in the details of jaundice and breastfeeding, I’ll say that it is not easy to get a sick, sleepy baby to eat. If a baby does not eat, she will not recover and a vicious cycle emerges. In our case, said cycle resulted in weight loss, many blood draws, pediatrician visits, lactation consults, hospital-grade equipment, etc.
She is now five weeks old (!) and steadily gaining weight, and is otherwise healthy and thriving.
I had the option to keep the scale another week, and I was tempted. So, so tempted.
In my world, data is king. After such a long, difficult, and medically intensive pregnancy, I am wired for data. By necessity, I never went more than a week or two at the most without an appointment or ultrasound. Biophysical profiles and their various indices were part of my twice-weekly language, and I carried spare sets of fetal monitor belts with me to the hospital for all the non-stress tests.
We pored over amniotic fluid levels, weight estimates, placental blood flow readings, and dutifully logged my own blood pressure and oxygen readings since they so closely correlated with her well-being.
When I commented to someone I needed some kind of scrapbook or binder for all her ultrasound pictures, I got a strange look. Moments like that remind me that our journey to have a child was not the norm. But the dozens of pictures that mark our journey are precious to me, now even more since I know the little person who rests her head on her arm or falls asleep with a hand across her face, just as she did then.
But it is time to take ultrasound pictures off of the fridge and out of the dingy white folder I lugged to each appointment. It is time instead to do something with all the pictures I’ve developed of her first few weeks.
And that’s how I feel about the scale. For a time, the constant stream of data was helpful and necessary. She needed to gain weight, and we needed to know if our various strategies were working. But she is over that particular hump now, and I need to learn to let go and trust her body and my body to get her what she needs. I need to rely on what is here and now, and not cling to numbers to tell me what I can see for myself.
It’s a big shift, after so many months of living on a precipice and waiting. But I think it’s a shift we all struggle with to an extent. So many of our conditions warrant close monitoring and frequent tests and streams of information we use to make decisions about treatments, drug dosages, lifestyle choices, etc. We need the data to make informed decisions, but data itself is not everything.
So I left the scale at the office. And in the few days that have lapsed, we have done just fine, she and I. I don’t know exactly what she weighs, but I don’t need to anymore. Besides, most parents don’t know this day to day. Instead, I’ll wait for her to grow into her 0-3 month clothes better, and I will smile when she hungrily, noisily eats, pleased that she is well enough now to wake up on her own to eat.
Things are headed to normal, and while I am not used to that, I am so grateful for it. In so many ways, data got us here, but now our job is to let go and live.