I’ve woken up to the shaking of a nearby explosion. I’ve been lost in dark alleys in the wrong parts of town in strange countries (don’t tell my mom that one). I’ve been caught unprepared in a blitz snowstorm on the top of a remote mountain, stranded on another mountain in a severe lightning storm (the metal in the toes of my boots actually smoked from being so hot), and was lost underwater in the hull of a sunken ship. Each of those were moments where I was scared and even if just for a moment, feared for my life. But nothing prepared me for the sort of fear I experienced a few days ago. I was driving up to Denver getting ready to fly out to Los Angeles the next day to visit my grandpa – incidentally my most favorite person in the universe – when I got a call from my OB/GYN (aka baby doctor). She explained calmly that my last ultrasound – which disappointingly didn’t reveal the baby’s sex – did reveal an inconsistency in the heart which was an indication of Down Syndrome and that I needed another blood test to confirm whether that was or wasn’t the case…but that it could wait until I got back from my trip. I struggled to be as polite as possible while I tried to process what she was saying and still keep the car between the white lines on the highway. After she hung up, the brunt of what she just said started to hit. I may be looking at being a single mom of a baby with Down Syndrome. Did I just hear that right?! At first the tears started slowly, but within a couple miles, they turned into steady streams and were quickly accommodated with loud and uncontrollable sobs and hyperventilating. Can I just take a moment to beg healthcare professionals out there NEVER to give less than positive news to patients WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING?? I couldn’t breath, couldn’t think, and couldn’t see – because of the tears filling both eyes and the fact that my one eye can still only open about halfway from the recent surgery.
What I just can’t wrap my brain around is: what if it’s true? What if I’m going to be a single mom with a challenged baby? HOW THE HELL DO I DO THAT? Since that phone call, I’ve been more scared than any other life-threatening moment in my life. It’s more than just me here on the line now – it’s a whole new person depending on me – me the sporadic, fly by the seat of my pants, try anything once, risk-taking “mommy” who is now scared shitless into a stagnant state of dread. The only answer that keeps coming to me is, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” Thanks a lot, subconscious, that’s all you got? Not, “this too shall pass,” or, “you are only given what you can handle.” Nope – no such reassuring thoughts – just “I can’t do it.” I’ve had an unending stream of prayers that consists of one sentence…”Please let this baby be healthy. Please let this baby be healthy. Please let this baby be healthy.” I know in my head there are resources to help people like me to adjust to a special needs baby like that, but I just don’t think I’m that strong.
Incidentally, I turned around and went back to the doctor’s office to get the test done. I’m in LA now with my grandpa and trying to think about other things until the results come in a few more days. The Price is Right is on with volume level 50 – not exactly a way to clear the mind from troubling thoughts – or maybe it’ll turn out to be some untapped sound therapy I’ve never tried.
The truth of the whole matter is this potential reality is so big that I can’t wrap my brain around it – not yet. I suppose it’s good self-advice in that we humans can and often do drive ourselves crazy with fears over what may or may not happen. If I were to leave my thoughts to their own demise, I’d be laying on the floor in a pool of my own saliva mumbling and paralyzed from fear. I’ve often heard the saying that 90% of what people fear in life never happens. Now if I can just internalize and pause with a little patience before I have to face whatever lies ahead. It’s not ignoring fear; it’s letting that fear sit next to me but not consume me. It’s breathing in one breath at a time and when I feel shaky and unsure and scared, to steady myself until I know just what my new reality will be. This is definitely a life lesson in the works – one we’re all faced with. Once again I find myself on the stage of life – my setting and obstacles may be a little different than other people’s, but we’re all dealt the same big lessons. And you know what? This too shall pass…written appropriately with fear tears filling my eyes…breathe, Amy, breathe.