Sometimes I worry that I don’t worry enough. Every now and then, someone will comment on my generally-relaxed attitude towards motherhood, intending for it to be a compliment, but I never really know whether it should be. I tell them it might be a twin mom thing (there’s two right out of the gate, who has time for first-time motherhood paranoia?) or that it might be a preemie mom thing (when your kid’s had two brain surgeries before she even reached her due date, you learn to let the little things go), but sometimes I wonder if it’s really just an “I’m too scared to think about it” thing.
When I was pregnant, I wasn’t worried at all. In fact, I was so whatever about the whole thing that I kind of want to go back and throttle my naive, pregnant self. I got pregnant with two babies on the first try, like it was nothing. I got terribly sick soon after and could barely move from the couch, but hey, that’s twins, right? Did anyone ever really ENJOY gestating two humans simultaneously? I knew right away that being pregnant wouldn’t be easy, but it never crossed my mind that anything would actually go wrong. People give birth to healthy, happy babies all the time, why concern myself with things that probably wouldn’t even happen?
My mom was worried. I was walking around too much, she said. My purse was too heavy. Careful on the stairs! Drink filtered water, use organic skin cream, don’t eat deli meat! But I was pregnant, not dying, so I rolled my eyes and went for extra-long walks and kept carrying my extra-large purse (though I did skip the deli meat). And I held firm to my belief that there was no use worrying about all the awful outcomes when the awful outcomes are so rare.
And then, well, we got an awful outcome.
Maybe I’d been wrong? Maybe I should have worried more, taken all the extra ‘what-if’ precautions? If I had spent more time lying down than walking around, putting all that extra pressure on the weak cervix I didn’t know I had, would I have stayed pregnant longer? If my purse had been lighter, if I’d eaten salad instead of the awful Taco Bell burritos I craved during the height of my first-trimester food aversions, if I’d been more diligent with my prenatal vitamins…would it have all ended differently?
Sometimes, someone will say something about Madeleine. Her head is oddly shaped, she makes funny movements that could be seizure-like, she’s still so small and light and she struggles with different textures in her food. And I look at her and think, how could any of that matter when she is so bright and funny and agile and sociable and gorgeous? When she’s doing all the stuff that her brother is doing? Why worry about her head possibly being a weird shape, or her every-now-and-then funny movements when the odds are that it’s totally nothing?
But I know why. We should be worried because the odds haven’t been on our side. Bad things may not happen very often, but they do happen, and they have happened to us. Better to be concerned unnecessarily, better to be overly thorough, than to miss something important. Nobody wants to drop the ball.
Well, I hate the ball. I hate that I don’t get to assume that everything’s fine, because chances are that something, at some point, is still going to go wrong. And until then, we just wait.
And worry. Or not.