It started after I lost my first pregnancy. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant, I was shocked, but everything changed. And when I started bleeding at 6.5 weeks everything changed again.
When I got pregnant with the twins I was a wreck. I felt strange. Crampy. Nauseous. When 6.5 weeks came and went I was thrilled. I didn’t realize how anxious I was until we saw a heartbeat (and then, gulp, another). I was elated that my baby was healthy, but shocked that there were two.
I was immediately bombarded by doctors talking about cervix length, cesareans, twin to twin transfusion syndrome, prematurity, and so on. Google was not my friend. I had contractions from the time that I could feel my uterus. I thought it was strange that some women didn’t feel contractions. I had them daily from about 12 weeks. I went to the ER at 16 weeks and had a doctor tell me that I had an “irritable uterus.” Apparently my uterus was pissed about the super fast stretching going on.
I was terrified of premature labor. I was terrified of NICU, brain bleeds, necrotizing enterocolitis, hydrocephalus, anemia, cerebral palsy, tachypnea, chronic lung disease, asthma, and so on. I’ve faced some of that head on. It was scary. We made NICU friends. We saw people lose their babies. We know how lucky we are.
And now the real fear starts.
Jed asked me the other day how we would not be “helicopter parents.” How would we let them learn the lessons that they need to learn? How will we let them fall and hurt themselves? Will we always go in and check their breathing?
I worry that they will break arms, get bit by snakes, accidentally piss off a javelina, drown, fall out of trees, choke, race down a hill on their bike and crash, cut their heads open, touch a hot wood stove, get bit by a dog, have an allergic reaction, be abused, get made fun of, and so on. I worry about insane, unrealistic scenarios. The other day it occurred to me that an eagle could pick up one of my kids and carry them off. Possible? Yes. Likely? Not remotely.
That crazy stuff goes through my head daily, but I push it away. It has to go somewhere else, because I don’t have time for it. I have babies who need love; a moment that I need to live in. I do my best to keep them safe from the obvious things. The toxic cleaners are locked up, their carseats are installed safely, and I don’t let them chew on plastic bags. They will do risky, awful things. They will jump off stuff that is too high. They will chase things they shouldn’t and they’ll harass wildlife when I’m not looking. I’ll keep a shotgun ready in case of eagle attacks, but I’ll lock it in the gun safe.
It’s a decision. I refuse to let my fears define my relationships with my children.