Sunday, October 30, 2016

Week 35: The Gift of Tears

A few weeks ago, you could probably tell I was kind of mad at the perinatologist. I may still have some reason to be mad, but the justification for my anger is more likely...slim. As I'm discovering more and more, there's usually just a whole lot of sadness and weakness and pain underlying a lot of my anger, a lot of the time. Often the person who happens to be in the room when I feel that way gets jumped on, whether or not that person is directly responsible for doing anything wrong to me.

So recently I prayed to Saint Louis, King of France, to give me the "gift of tears." It was a gift he himself prayed for, to be able to shed tears of repentance over his sins. I assume that, as a king, he didn't have a lot of time to sit alone in the bathroom and have a good cry. I know that feeling. Usually it's because someone else needs to use the toilet or I need to run interference on a wooden-block-throwing two-year-old. I also prayed to Saint Jerome (good old patron saint of grumpy people) to pull the thorn out of the paw of the lion that tends to start roaring when I get angry. You can read some of his letters some time if need proof that even angry people can become good... 

In any case, I wasn't thinking about those prayers in preparation for my visit this week, and I was quite prepared to get a little sassy with the perinatologist when I woke up on Friday morning. To be fair, perinatologists have been wrong a couple of times in my case. Like in my first pregnancy when they told me my son was in the third percentile and my OB recommended three weeks of bed rest. He was, in fact, in the 35th percentile and born perfectly healthy at 41 weeks. Or in my second pregnancy when they insisted on early induction because they were worried about shoulder dystocia with a big baby. He was my largest baby, but still came flying out in 20 minutes-worth of pushing. Or in my third pregnancy when they told me my son might have trisomy 18. In fact he was missing a kidney, but it turns out you can be quite healthy with only one. I didn't let them make any mistakes or bad recommendations during my fourth pregnancy...

So anyway, here I am, ready to be sassy. A thin veneer lying on top of a whole lot of anxiety. The tech did the ultrasound, and the baby measured somewhere between 80th and 90th percentile again. This was a different ultrasound tech than the last one, so with a second tech finding the same thing as the first, it seemed unlikely that her measurements were a repeat error. More likely, it was true confirmation of the "big baby" finding. 

As she stepped out of the room to go find the doctor, I began to pray: praying to our little one's patron saint for help controlling my blood sugars, for me to trust God's will even if the worst thing (c-section or shoulder dystocia) should happen, wisdom for the doctors, wisdom for all the nurses and staff who would attend me during labor and delivery at the hospital...and then the tears just started squeezing out of my eyes. They are showing up at all kinds of awkward times and places these days! Thank you, Saint Louis...but...well, just thanks, I guess. Yeah, I did actually ask for it.

Faster than I could wipe them away, I heard the perinatologist at the door. Shoot. I thought I might have a few minutes to let out some more before putting on sassy-face again, but my hands were over my eyes and my cheeks had just flushed red when he came in. I thought about acting like everything was normal but the tears could have started pouring down my cheeks at any moment even if I had tried to put on a good face about it. Kind of embarrassing, but it was too late to worry about that now. (From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus).

When he asked what was wrong, I just started telling him, half-laughing (to keep myself from really losing it) and half-crying (because that's what I really wanted to do), that I had been trying so hard to exercise, to eat properly, to control my blood sugars and my weight gain and my blood pressure and it just felt like I had failed because now I had a big baby. I explained about how exhausting it had been to get up and walk every day, how I was crying at the end of every day, how hungry I was all the time, how I couldn't handle the blood sugar spikes and that when I stopped walking it just seemed to fix all my problems but now I was worried about shoulder dystocia and the need for induction before baby and I were truly ready...

I have no idea what he thought of me or my theories about this pregnancy or diabetes or my past experience or the fact that I was both laughing and crying at the same time. I honestly didn't care. (From the desire of being esteemed or praised or honored, deliver me, Jesus). He didn't seem uncomfortable. He spoke a bit more quietly and slowly than usual. He's probably used to pregnant women crying in his exam room. He does, after all, have the crummy job of bearing bad news to women about major defects that will make it impossible for their children to survive past a few hours.

At this point, I truly couldn't and didn't expect anything good to come from this visit. My anger of last visit was probably mostly unjustified. He'd probably be right to be a little offended if he knew about it. The sassiness I arrived with this morning was simply a sham covering up feelings of diabetic failure. And now, dissolving into a puddle of tears, I resemble a little kid, not unlike the children whose tears I often wipe away. Sometimes I do so happily, sometimes grudgingly and impatiently, and sometimes with a secret grin as I turn my head to keep them from seeing how amused I am by the silly things they cry about. All in all, something less than my best self is what showed up here today, and and it seemed reasonable to expect that something less than the best is what I would get in return.

The news from the perinatologist was the following:

- Your baby is big, not fat. He's big everywhere, and probably not because of your diabetes.
- You probably just grow them this way.
- Your baby will probably be somewhere between 8 and 9 pounds at birth.
- Your OB should know what to do for shoulder dystocia if it happens, but it probably won't.

Maybe read that list one more time. Just a big baby? Between 8 and 9 pounds? Probably this is just how I grow my babies? And that terrifying thing you've been fearing is something your doctor should be able to handle? I've gone over it in my mind a few times, today, too. It is almost exactly what I have been hoping is true for the last three weeks...

I wonder if God was wiping my tears away grudgingly, with a secret grin, or happily today. Perhaps it was all three. "You must become as a little child" (Matthew 18). "Blessed are those who mourn" (Matthew 5). Blessed be God in his saints, who pray for us unceasingly!


  1. I love how honest your writing is. I think pretty much all we can do is our best and besides that all we can do is hope for the best outcome and try to trust that everything will work out 😊 We are so close to the end!!