Thursday, May 2, 2013

What if ...

I usually blog in the evening, in bed, with something on TV on mute (either reruns of How I Met Your Mother or whatever's on PBS ... I like to think I pose a demographic puzzle for marketers.) But lately evenings have been primetime for fears and worries of questionable rationality. So I sit in front of the silent TV, draft page open, miserably burping and paralyzed by "what if ..."

This has led to quite a backlog of stories-I-should-have-told-by-now.  I finally got one of them written at work this morning, a post for my congregation's blog full of reflections on paradox and the nature of humanity.  And the rather hilarious story of traveling while pregnant and how I threw up on a plane.  So, the writer's block seems to have lifted, and, as is the case with me and writer's block, in fairly long-form, epic fashion.

But I can't forget how I sat in bed two nights ago, terrified that something was wrong with our baby after a day of not feeling (or maybe just not noticing) any movement. "What if something's wrong," I thought as I stared at the blank page, waiting for a flutter or a bump or any sign of life from my womb. "What if she's dead, and I'm sitting here writing a blog post about her." (Even writing it down now feels awful and wrong ... that terrible "d" word.) I closed up the laptop, kept the TV on for company, and curled up into a ball.

Because I am writing this now, you can guess that later that night and the next day I was comforted by lots of baby movement.  Last night, Sean even got to feel a good solid series of kicks and rolls for the first time.  Even this solid, miraculous reassurance is fleeting, lasting me just until the next movement dry spell, the next late night worry session.

Our baby girl's name is Sally Joan.  She's named after my great aunt Sally and Sean's great aunt Joan: two brilliant, strong, feisty women.  Shortly after our 20 week ultrasound we started telling Walter about Sally, his little sister, the baby that he'd be meeting soon.  We didn't think he'd understand any of it, but we told him, anyway.

Later that night, we went to church.  When J. arrived with her sweet baby, V., Walter was incredibly excited. "Baby!" he cried, pointing.  He hadn't shown this kind of interest in babies at church before, so I wanted to encourage him. "Yes!" I cried, mirroring his enthusiasm. "Let's go see the baby!" We went over to where V. was sitting in his car seat and Walter got as close as he possibly could.  It became clear that he really, really wanted to hug the baby.  J. took V. out of his seat and held him up so Walter could hug him.  Walt's arms were shaking with nervousness and excitement: the classic Walter happy shimmy taken to its maximum potential.  He looked at me with wonder and joy in eyes.  "Tally!" he said.

Now, "Tally" is how Walter pronounces V's name, so at first I was impressed that he remembered the name of his baby friend from church.  But then, based on some other things Walt said and did that evening, I figured out that he was saying his sister's name.  Walt thought V. was Sally. This theory was confirmed the next day, when Walt brought me the dvd case for the first season of Modern Family, pointed at baby Lily and said, "Tally?" He was still looking for his sister, this baby we told him was coming soon.

Quickly, Sean and I set to work on clarifying the situation. "Sally is in Mama's belly," we said.  We continue to remind Walter of this, and he repeats it and seems to mostly accept it, though I think he's a little skeptical.  When he talks about his family, Walt talks about Mama, Dada, Umma, Baba, Grandma, PopPop, Hank and Sally. When he helped us with the laundry, he pointed to the new baby girl newborn clothes and said, "Tally!"  The other day while he was playing in his kitchen, Walt wanted his sister to come and play with him.  "Tally?" he called out.  "TALLY!"  After some explanation from Mama, he decided to call Hank over to play instead.

Walter doesn't fully understand what's going on, but he understands much more than I thought he would (and probably more than I realize, even now) and he's excited about Sally. During one of my late night worry sessions, I asked Sean if maybe we shouldn't have told Walter so much about Sally.  "What if something happens to her?" I said. "Walter will be so sad."

"If something happens to Sally, Walter will be sad," Sean said. "But he would be sad even if he didn't know her name, and even if we didn't tell him about her.  He would be sad because we would be sad."

All we can do is take it as it comes.  It doesn't mean we won't worry--we will worry, because that's what we do.  But the worry and the what ifs are tempered by faith, balanced by hope, softened by our gentleness and love for each other, and kept at bay by every kick, bump, flutter and roll we are lucky enough to feel.  Walter is confused and excited and happy about his little sister, Sally. How wonderful is that?

1 comment:

3d8th said...

The what-ifs are killers but it speaks to how much you love your little girl.
keep on kicking baby girl!