Three long, Oreo-free months ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. And for three long months, I have freaked out over every meal, every snack, and every exercise.
About a month into this issue, I told my doctor through sobs that I was starting to lose my mind. The stress of counting carbs, watching clocks, setting alarms, exercising just enough, pricking my own finger and then writing down every detail was making me insane. Almost daily I would go to bed crying.
My doctor's response was not at all what I expected.
"Oh, that's too bad. I really thought if you had something you could control to focus on, it would take your mind off your other issues."
What did you just say?
The dear, sweet man truly felt that a diagnosis of another potentially baby-threatening disorder was somehow going to make me ...MORE CALM?
Worked like a charm, doc. No, instead of calming down, the panic merely shifted because one part of his thought was accurate. I could control the GDM. And I controlled the hell out of it.
Yesterday at my routine OB visit, I asked my nurse to tell me how my weight changed from my last appointment to this one. I don't like to know numbers, but part of the GDM psychosis is needing to know weight gain and loss. Her response was, "Are you sure you don't just want to know how your weight has changed since you first got pregnant?" Sure. Why the hell not. She sounded positive and up-beat, so I gambled.
Attention all readers. In the past 36 weeks, I have gained a total of four pounds. And there's still a six-pound baby inside me.
(Disclaimer: This is NOT at ALL a competition or a challenge. MOST pregnant women should gain much more than that during their gestation. However, I've been pregnant pretty much constantly for three years, with some grief-eating in between, so this is a perfect amount for me. Stunning, actually.)
When she told me, I got a little ridiculous. I threw myself a mental parade and went on to tell my husband, sister, friends...anyone who would listen. I was over the moon, and rightly so.
But this morning, something occurred to me. I did control the GDM. I controlled my food and my glucose and my weight. But in doing that, what have I really controlled?
When you lose a child, all your control is suddenly stolen from you. You scream at the doctor, the nurse, anyone who will listen that THIS CANNOT HAPPEN, but there's nothing you can do. And during the rainbow pregnancy, you get determined to control everything.
"This time around will be different."
For me, I switched doctors just to be designated "high risk." I had my medical files re-examined. I signed up for all the tests, injections, appointments I possibly could. I begged for extra ultrasounds. I came prepared for every single appointment with questions and research. I went Type-A all over this pregnancy.
But at no point have I ever really had control over whether or not Matt gets to come home in the end.
Not that all of that was for nothing. It's all been wonderful, and I know that Matt is getting the best care possible. I trust my doctor and his staff to take care of us. But the idea that at any moment I had control over this pregnancy? Lies. This facade of control is just something I created to make myself feel a bit of relief.
And what does this revelation do for me? One amazing boon.
It allows me to forgive myself a little.
I realize now that I didn't lose my control when I lost Carpenter. I did not drop the ball or let him down at any point. I couldn't stop his death. Sometimes bad things happen. It isn't that we aren't doing enough, or asking enough, or planning enough. It's that sometimes, babies don't come home with their parents. And sometimes those same parents have a baby that defies all odds.
And that end result--that question we want to dictate more than anything--that's not something we can control.
Instead, we do the best we can for our babies, and that is all we can ask of ourselves.
Relax. Breathe deeply. Forgive yourself a little.