Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When My Brave Face was too Brave


I stared out the window as my husband drove. I rubbed my growing belly and nervously shook my foot in the passenger seat.

"Do you really think everything will be fine on the ultrasound?"

My husband reassured me that it would. He had been doing that for weeks. My 20 week ultrasound for pregnancy #3 was finally here. It was a day I dreaded and looked forward to all at once.

I looked back at my daughter smiling in her car seat. I reminded her we were going to get to see the baby in mommy's tummy today. She signs, "Baby."

Baby. Yes, I should be carrying a baby in my arms now and not my tummy. My second pregnancy ended abruptly at 11 weeks. I never knew that baby's gender or gave him/her a name but the loss was real and heartbreaking.

Now, I am well into this pregnancy and more nervous than ever. Is it possible for things to go right this time?

At the ultrasound of my daughter at 18 weeks, I was not worried at all. We found out our baby was going to be a healthy girl.

Imagine my surprise when at birth we found out that she had Down syndrome and a heart defect that would need open heart surgery within a couple of months. My daughter's surprise diagnoses and the miscarriage led me to being overly paranoid about this third pregnancy.

I was not necessarily worried about Down syndrome or a heart problem. I was worried about other conditions, some rare, that I had read about or had experience within my job. I was extremely paranoid. I put on a brave face for most people, including the doctors. My husband, on the other hand, knew every crazy thought I had. Poor guy.

With a million thoughts in my head, I soon found myself on that examination table in a darkened room. After a few minutes into the ultrasound, I marveled at the baby on the screen and looked at my husband and daughter watching too.

I then told the ultrasound technician, "You know you are leaving me in suspense on whether it's a boy or a girl."

The woman in a cold response and judgmental tone said, "I'm more worried about the health of the baby. I haven't even looked at the gender yet."

Uh....did she not see my daughter in the room? Did she not read in my chart that my last pregnancy didn't work out? Did she really think I wasn't worried?

After that, I kept my mouth shut. I was on the verge of a complete ugly, crying meltdown. I wish I would have had the composure to tell her what I was really thinking, but I couldn't put the words together.

I did not have the strength to ask, "Is the baby healthy?"

Of course, I was worried about the baby's health. I just couldn't ask the question. I was too afraid of the answer. If something was wrong, I knew my mental health was going to suffer. How could I go on if...?

Baby boy Elijah on the ultrasound

When she did announce that all was well with our baby boy, I let out a sigh of relief. Most of my worry subsided. The rest of it didn't go away until he was born and I could see him for myself.

All these years later, I remember that technician and her tone with me. Maybe she had seen too many parents get hung up on gender reveals. Maybe some parents were just really annoying at ultrasounds. I am not sure why she got an attitude with me, but it really wasn't necessary, especially given my history.

I am also sure there must be nervous parents who express every fear and worry to their doctor. I was not one to do that, especially with a stranger. Apparently, my brave face was too brave. Perhaps, this lady needed to see that I internally wasn't that brave.

Though that interaction with the technician wasn't the best, I did learn something from it. Medical professionals aren't in my head. They don't automatically know what I am worried about and don't understand my point of view if I don't tell them. Even though it may be difficult for me, I have learned to take off my brave face once in awhile and be the honest, possibly neurotic, parent that I truly am. 

So when I ask our family's professionals,
-If Jaycee's obstructive sleep apnea is getting worse, how great is the risk when her mask slips off at night?
-Is Jaycee going to need this medication forever?
-Is she going to recover from this illness?
-If she is 10 and can only write her name, how far do you think she will go with writing?
-Is this normal?

then you know my brave face is off exposing my fears and worries. It is then that the professionals and I learn from each other and have a better understanding of where we both stand.

To all you other moms out there wearing that brave face constantly, do not be afraid to take it off and reveal what's underneath once in awhile.

1 comment:

  1. If we jump into the water, would we swim or would we drown?
    If we build a set of wings then, could we fly or just fall down?


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