Losing control — as opposed to the very conscious effort of giving away control — is horrifying. I contemplated control as I lay writhing in pain on a hospital gurney, clutching my abdomen. I felt helpless. Nausea gave way to other symptoms. The pain intensified. Mike grasped my hand and looked on in quiet terror.
Neither of us knew what was happening.
Neither of us knew if the baby was okay or if I was going to be okay or if what I was experiencing was at all normal for a pregnancy.
I had lost control.
In spite of this, I found my way to gratitude: this situation was not in my control and, for whatever reason, that was okay. I knew I was in good hands. These were trained (and comforting) professionals that dealt with mamas and mamas-to-be every day. They wouldn’t let anything happen to me or my baby.
As the nurses and technicians swarmed and soothed, I tried to concentrate on something — anything — that would bring me peace. I thought about my baby, merrily (unmerrily?) kicking at my insides, and willed him to be healthy. I thought about my husband, stoic and brave, concentrating on the buzzing room and answering any questions, and thanked him for his strength. I thought about my parents, sleeping four and a half hours away, and praised them for my upbringing.
I thought about myself, too.
I told myself that I was strong, courageous, and bold. I told myself that pain is only temporary but this wiggly baby would be for life.
I gritted my teeth against the onset of needle after needle and reassured myself that it was all necessary. I thanked the nurses for their gentle hands. I thanked the doctor for her kind words. I silently thanked universal health care; in spite of its flaws, I was able to rush to the hospital and be taken care of without worrying about the bill.
I am a grateful person. Truly, I am. I try to tell people as often as I can how much I appreciate them and their hard work. I tell my clients I appreciate their flexibility and their patience. I tell my partners that I appreciate their honesty and work ethic. I tell my family that I appreciate their generosity and kindness. I tell my friends that I appreciate their individuality and what that brings to my life.
I tell my husband “thank you” and “I appreciate you” as many times as I possibly can without it seeming like I’m being fake. The little things, from him bringing me a glass of water to late-night cuddles after I have a nightmare, add up. So does the appreciation.
It took an evening of pain, tears, needles, and ultrasounds for me to find myself truly being grateful for myself. I’ve never experienced inward gratitude before. I was grateful that I could find strength in any situation — when it comes time to deliver, I will be grateful for that all over again. I was grateful for my motherly instincts, which I didn’t think I had, driving me to keep calm so my baby would be calm. I was grateful for my iron resolve; I wasn’t about to let anything bring me down, especially not something like gallstones.
As the pain abated and I was finally able to sleep, I looked over at Mike — pallid skin, sunken green eyes, and worry tugging at the corners of his strong mouth — and thought, “Great, full.”
Photo by kateausburn