“I can’t do this again,” I said to Mike as I lay on the exam table. “It’s too much responsibility.”
I was 25 weeks pregnant with Leo. We had traveled halfway across the country for a friend’s wedding, and I had a little spotting. I couldn’t remember when I’d last felt the baby move, or at least I thought the baby ought to be moving more. I called the clinic back in Minnesota and they said, as they would say to any pregnant woman halfway across the country, “You should go in.”
So the day after we danced at our friend’s wedding, we took a cab to an unfamiliar hospital. They admitted me, asked me lots of alarming questions about what to do in case we delivered the baby then and there, and did an exam. I was fine and the baby was fine. We were released. We took the bus back to our rental apartment, thankful and relieved.
I loved being pregnant. It was such a blessing and such a gift. But it was also a huge and terrifying responsibility. If something felt weird or seemed off, I was the one who had to decide if it merited a visit to the doctor. I was the one who knew best, and much of the time, I simply didn’t know.
Tuesday night, three-year-old Leo woke up screaming. We noticed he was clutching his stomach. Of course, we thought appendicitis. We called the nurse line, who sent us to the emergency room in Saint James, who sent us to the emergency room in Rochester. It was a long, anxious, exhausting night.
It was not, however, appendicitis. Or intussusception. Or anything else they could find. Once he had a portable DVD player with Thomas in front of him, Leo was perfectly content to hang out there all night. He was fine. We drove home in the pouring rain, thankful and relieved (and really, really tired).
I love being a parent. It is such a blessing and such a gift. But it is also, of course, a huge and terrifying responsibility. Especially when our kids our little, we are the ones who have to decide whether or not to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night. We are the ones who are supposed to know best, and much of the time, we simply don’t.
This is scary and frustrating and hard. And for all the times I talk about how beautiful and faithful it is to live in the midst of unknowing (Pro Tip: I’m about to talk about that again), there are just as many times when I think, “Forget this noise. I just want to know. I want to be sure.”
There are so many things that we just can’t know or control: the weather, the actions of other people, the inner workings of a seed in the earth or a baby in the womb or a three-year-old’s mysterious midnight pain. We do our best to figure things out, to care for the people and things with which we’ve been entrusted. But in the end, we are left with hope and trust.
Which, when you think about it, is really a pretty good crop.
P.S . . .
As I lay on the exam table in that unfamiliar hospital, watching the resident perform a sonogram, I asked, “While you’re doing that, can you tell us if it’s a boy or a girl?” (Our baby was very modest at the 20 week ultrasound. I thought we might as well get our money’s worth at this unexpected repeat viewing.)
The resident hesitated. Then she said, “Don’t paint the room, but I’m pretty sure it’s a girl.”
Fourteen weeks later, our baby boy was born.
How do you handle not knowing?