Tuesday, December 5, 2006

fear itself

Today when I woke up after a full night's rest (thank you, sweet Jesus), Lucy was still. Very still. Unnaturally still.
I poked her.
She didn't move.
I started to panic. My baby died in the night and I didn't even wake up, I thought.
I prodded her less gently and she snorted and wiggled. I breathed a sigh of relief. For a minute.

The worry (about Lucy, anyway) started about five minutes after I got a positive pregnancy test. I had been sick (a 1st trimester symptom!) and had a few buttered rums. They felt great on my irritated throat, but had a bitter aftertaste when I realized I was marinating my unborn child in hard liquor.

I worried about if I was getting enough folic acid. Too much Vitamin A. Whether the salicylic acid on my face cream was causing weird deformities. Whether Dyami would still think I was cute with a huge stomach or saggy boobs. Whether I'd gain 100 pounds. Whether labor would make me cuss at my sweet husband.
Whether I worried too much.
This is true.

And the worst part was I knew (knew!) it would only get worse after Lucy was born.

We shopped for baby stuff, so I read some reviews, and I found a whole other category of worry: Products Marketed for My Child that Might Cause Her Irreparable Bodily Harm. Car safety seats that weren't safe! Thrift store toys that could choke her! Flameable clothing! Death trap cribs!
My sweet mother-in-law got us a used crib (the one currently blocking the puppet spotlight). It did not have the recommended space between slats. It probably had lead-based paint.
I told her we couldn't use it (against Dyami's protests--and despite the fact that Lucy wouldn't be chewing or able to navigate past crib bumpers for a while). She was crushed. Well, disappointed, maybe.
Then when Lucy was born and I saw how immobile she was, I thought, what was I so worried about? We used the crib for a while, and still put her her in it as a containment device while I run to the bathroom. No problem, so far.

I have realized (warning: real confession, one that makes me feel very less then) a lot of my worry about her dying is fear that I will look bad. Fear that people will think I was a terrible mother (for what kind of a mother lets her child die?) Of course, great mothers have to deal with children dying all the time.
If I'm nice to myself, I realize that it's natural that my fear is selfish. I've never lost a child--Not to dwell on the unlikely, but I'm sure I wouldn't really only notice how her death made me look bad. I'm sure I would have other, more pressing concerns.
Also, part of it is that she's so little, and so much potential, so little kinetic, energy. If I think about losing Dyami, I know the things about him I would miss (let's not go there). But I'm still learning my child. Still in the process of falling in love with her. Part of losing her would be losing the joy of seeing her develop. Seeing her walk or eat strawberries. Reading Little House on the Prairie to her (since I basically had children so I would have a larger reading audience).

And at rock bottom, my fear is about not being able to control who she is, what will happen tomorrow (remember Marvin 5: 17) and how well I'll be able to handle whatever life throws us.

The good news is that God promises to be with me no matter what happens. And he is a good God, who wants to give us a fish, not a snake.
I believe this, most days.

Now excuse me: I've got to go make sure Lucy's not chewing on the lead-based paint.

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