Wednesday, June 02, 2010

In the Moment

Various medical issues—some my own, most of them other people’s—have kept me away from here longer than I’d anticipated. Everything is okay, but recent events reminded me that health situations can change so quickly, that you can’t plan for some things, and that you have to be willing to adapt, switch gears, and sometimes, do what doctors tell you even if it wasn’t on your radar.

Living in the moment is not easy for me. I am a type A, detail-oriented, list-making person. My natural proclivity for being a control freak is certainly exacerbated by the fact that life with chronic illness very often throws all semblance of control out the window, but the natural proclivity is there nonetheless. For better and for worse, it’s who I am.

But right now, the best thing I can do is abandon my need for a tenacious grip on the future, to have a plan for every outcome and count on the details to soothe me.

When people find out you are pregnant, they naturally start asking a lot of well-intentioned questions: When are you due? Do you know what you’re having? How are you feeling? These are the easy ones to answer.

But then we get to harder ones: Will you have a c-section? Will you bottle feed or nurse? Are you going to have a second?

The short answer: Um, I don’t know.

Would you believe that in all of my many high-risk appointments and ultrasounds we have not discussed the actual birth? Partially it’s because I am only 23 weeks and we have time to discuss the rest, but it’s also because my entire team very much takes things day by day with me. Any change in labs, pulmonary status, infection status, etc and they want to know immediately. Right now, their focus is on keeping me as healthy as possible, because a healthier me means a healthier baby girl.

I realized a long time ago that having a medically intensive, high-risk pregnancy meant surrendering a lot of control to my expert doctors. Of course I have preferences—I’d prefer not to have major abdominal surgery—but I also know at the end of the day, we will decide what is best for the baby. I am not someone who can parse out a detailed birth plan, because my health will dictate what we do.

(I covered some of the risks of a PCD pregnancy in Life Disrupted but here’s a brief recap, for context: “normal” PCD infections last longer and are more serious in pregnant women, especially as lung volume changes, meaning I can reasonably expect to be in the hospital more often and for longer periods. The biggest concern is pre-term delivery, either since infections can trigger early labor or because we reach a tipping point where the risks of lower oxygenation outweigh the risks of premature birth. Whether I am induced earlier, need a c-section, or go close to full term and have a more traditional delivery depends on a huge number of variables, and again, I will do whatever my doctors say gives my baby the healthiest start possible. These are the major concerns; we’re juggling a lot of other competing issues too.)

I should also emphasize that though we have had some rocky patches so far, the baby is fabulous—healthy and thriving.

We haven’t discussed formula versus breastfeeding yet. If I can, I’d like to try; it depends on whether my medications after delivery are safe. I will defer to my team and what they say is prudent for the baby. Again, I have my own personal preferences but realize I may have to adjust my expectations for the best outcome.

Of all the well-intentioned and common questions pregnant women get, for several reasons the one about having more children is the one that drives me crazy. First and foremost, this pregnancy took so long to achieve and we continue to fight incredibly hard to keep her safe. I don’t want to fast-forward through this precious period of time, to think about hypothetical children. I want to focus on the child who is growing here in the present, the one we waited four years for. I do not take her safe entry into the world for granted.

But also? It’s a really personal, loaded question. I love having siblings and would love to be able to give our daughter siblings but it is complicated and for lots of reasons that I don’t need to detail here, it may not be in cards. Who knows what will happen, but I do know that I don’t need to be reminded of what I might not be able to give her, especially right now.

We’ve had some long, rough months and a lot of the journey remains ahead of us. Right now, in this moment, we are in a good, stable place. I want to enjoy this moment, and live fully in this moment. I am so grateful we are here, and that she is okay, and that is all that matters. As much as it goes against my instincts, I am relieved (happy) to just take things day by day. I can’t plan for everything. I can just do my best, listen to my wonderful doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, and hope that all our combined hard work pays off.

I realize this is a pregnancy-centered post, but I think the same applies to living with illness in general: health status can change in an instant, no matter what we do. We can’t spend every second worrying about what might happen or what else we could do to prevent things or we miss out on the present.


Rachel said...

Living in the moment is something I strive for, but often difficult with that silly anxiety. (In fact, I blogged about it last night). Thank you for the reminder that it can be done, though.

Dominique said...

My daughter had a very high risk pregnancy - she has two uterus's.

Anyway, she had her baby 4 weeks early but everything went fine.

We had to take it one day at a time or it got really overwhelming with all the complications that come along with it.

I'm glad things are going really well with your little one!

Congratulations BTW!

Lisa Copen said...

(wow, I've never been told my comment was too long!) In regard to the sibling question, we wanted to make sure that if we did adopt, our son would be the older child. So when he was born we knew we had a few years at least before we had to make a decision. By that time, I began to see my body falling apart and that it would be unlikely I could physically left and handle a small infant. So in the back of my mind, I thought "well, maybe God wants us to adopt an older child" (meaning each 18 months or older). I knew then it would be more of an investment of emotional labor than physical labor. But as time went on, and our son was a handful, I gradually accepted the fact that for our entire family, my husband included, (who goes way beyond the typical dad as far as responsibilities), having just one child would be the best. There ended up being some irony in this story, because my son's birth mother had another child after Josh and kept him to raise and so is the full sibling to my son. We see them about three or four times a year and I love her to death, and my son knows the little boy is his brother. They will be the only sibling that either child ever has, so they can define their own relationship someday as children who grow up knowing they are both loved and were encouraged to love each other. (Long story that I won't go into it but definitely a blessing in disguise.)

I actually wanted a sibling for my son, more so than I really desire a second child. I can say now, seeing all the mothers fighting with strollers as they are picking up their children from school, I'm glad I made the choice I did and my husband felt the same way. There is no correct answer, every mother and father must come to their own conclusion after a great deal of thought and prayer. A mom at my son's karate class the other day said, "Is your son an only child?" And I said "yes." And she said, "there are so many times I wonder why we didn't have that second child." Thankfully her two-year-old daughter was not nearby but rather getting into something, so did not hear her, but I hear there's quite more frequently than I would if it were predicted. I did not know that mothers actually said this outloud.

We anticipate just always planning to be able to afford to treat one of my son's friends to whatever outings or amusement parks we are going to the next two years as he gets older (he's 7 now). If he had a sibling, the odds are they would likely fight all the time and each want to bring a friend anyway.

I encourage you to enjoy the moment and come up with your straightforward or quirky little one-liners that you can respond to everyone without having to be emotionally involved in coming up with an answer for them. As you mentioned, most of the people who are asking these questions are strangers, and they simply are asking what is "typical" just as they ask those of us who live with illness, "did someone in your family happened?" They mean no harm, but they also have no reason to be given an answer. The best we can do is use it as an opportunity to be kind and educate them in whatever way we see as most important to us.

Lisa Copen said...

Laurie, My heart goes out to you because it means that at the moment you are finally able to begin to anticipate the joy the baby will bring into your life, everyone around you wants to know what the next five years following the birth will bring. As you likely know we adopted our son at birth, and everyone wanted to know if we would be having more children. I even wanted to be able to assure the birth mother that our son would have siblings. But at the time, I knew that we just needed to take one day at a time. That was what I told everyone.

Since our son was adopted and I was on a great deal of medication, breast-feeding was not an option. I did not realize that there were so many opinions regarding this and I was confronted a couple of times in different areas, like the Babies R Us changing area, about why was not giving my son "the best" by breast-feeding. Since I have gained a great deal of weight from prednisone, I actually looked as though I had recently given birth and was carrying baby weight. But he drank formula and then switch to vitamin D milk and is what I call what I call a "milk-a-holic. To this day he will not drink soda, has rarely drink juice, and is probably one of the healthiest kids around.

(see continued below...)

Lyrehca said...

I think it's pretty nervy of people to ask about having a second child when you're in the middle of your first pregnancy!

I always tell people "If we have news, we'll let you know" or "there's nothing to say at this time" about having a second child or if we want another child. With infertility, wanting another child isn't always the same as having another child, something too many people don't realize.

OHSH said...

I am very so very happy for you and thank you so much for sharing yourself and what you and your family are going through.

Lisa said...

Thanks for this post, it's something I need to learn to do more. A foremost expert on CFS, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, has just put out a new book called Beat Sugar Addiction Now: It is written in a simple style and outlines his easy to follow, multi-step plan. He begins by identifying 4 main types of sugar addicts and then outlines a specific plan for each type of addict to follow. He explains how sugar plays into the problems suffered by each kind of addict and goes into detail when clearly and succinctly explaining how to beat the cravings. While Teitelbaum does not provide recipes or meal plans, he does give guidelines for healthy eating and lists of recommended foods as well as the glycemic index for many common foods.This book would probably be helpful not only to people attempting to lose weight, but also to those with illnesses such as Type II Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, just to name a few. Though Teitelbaum is a medical doctor and is clearly coming from a medical background, he writes in layman's terms and creates a book that will be easily understood by most people.

Miss Waxie aka A Comic Life, Indeed said...


I haven't been around reading much of anything lately, but I'm so glad to hear about your good news. Congratulations! Every moment we get of happiness ought to be soaked up and full enjoyed and so, while you have your heart in your throat, I'm also glad that considering all of the obstacles, you are your future little one are doing so well!

Enjoy the present...and the future!

- Miss Waxie

Laurie said...

Thanks so much for the comments and feedback on what can be a sensitive subject! I appreciate the encouragement.

L-I totally agree; these questions are way more loaded when you deal with infertility. We don't have the luxury of taking for granted another child will happen. Sometimes when people ask me, it is really from a place of excitement (though it drives me NUTS and I get riled up about it) bit sometimes you are right, it is nervy. I want to say, "How about you just let me get through this pregnancy, okay?"

Still, compared to the many ridiculous things people say about infertility, I suppose this question isn't too bad!

Shauna said...

Funny, I wrote a post about the strength in Chronic Pain as a personality/ingrained part of us due to our way of life, what we must go through, from getting off a chair, to going through what you now are, and everything that we achieve daily, it is amazing to me at times what we can push ourselves to do.

You are a strong lady and I believe in your decisions. :)

I wish you the best and I believe that whatever is supposed to happen to us is exactly where we need to be. You are experiencing this for a reason...and you are in my thoughts.

Gentle Hugs....

Tough Cookie said...

I hope you are feeling better!

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