Posted by: Kate | September 29, 2009

Flying Solo

There are any number of things in this life that I can do, but it doesn’t mean I want to.

I know how to change the oil in my car.  I know how to grow a reasonably successful garden.  I know how to rearrange big, heavy furniture.  I just usually choose not to do so by myself, because the resultant mess and possibility for complications is just a bigger risk than I’m interested in taking.

And there’s the less-tangible stuff, like attending doctors’ appointments alone.  Most of the time, I prefer to; I know what I know, and therefore I know which questions I need to ask and which I don’t, and if I have someone along for the ride we could easily get distracted, or turn the visit into an inefficient sort of event, or something.  Not to mention, I’m fairly intensely private; or, rather, I have a strong need to control which private information I choose to share.  Most of the time, I end up passing along everything I learn or hear at a doctor’s office to Willem, and really to anyone else who wants to know, but I just prefer to have a little time to take that information in, by myself, to process it, and then to pass it along when I’m ready.

There’s an exception, of course, because there always is.  When it comes to OB visits (not to be confused with GYN visits, which are certainly better off as a one-on-one sort of interaction, and frankly if I could leave the room for parts of it, that would be fine, too), I want Willem there.  Just to be involved in the process, and to hold my hand if they have unpleasant news, and to be there.  Partly because a pregnancy feels like his health issue, too, even though I don’t wander around talking about how “we are pregnant” or some such.  It’s entirely within my body, true, but he holds, if not an equal share, at least a much-heightened stake in its outcome.  And partly because if there is bad news, I react very differently than if it’s bad news about myself, alone.  When it’s just me, I go into problem-solving mode, immediately becoming very emotionless and logical, gathering facts and options and so on.  When it’s a baby, I shut down and can’t seem to form rational thought.

I don’t need, or even want, him there for every single appointment.  We did that with Emily, because the nature of his work at the time allowed it and because I really wanted him to feel invested and involved in this baby from as early as possible.  But with Jacob, and now this one, I wouldn’t want him to go to the regular monthly fluids-and-weight checks that happen, even if he could easily spare the time away from work, because I know he’s invested and they’re not all worth that much emphasis.

But today, I have an ultrasound – officially, a screening for Down Syndrome, but in my mind and in my heart it really will serve as confirmation that everything in there is progressing as it should.  We’ve seen the heartbeat, very early on, and heard a glimpse of it last week, but still, this week should offer more confidence on a lot of levels, just that everything is developing on target and doing what it’s supposed to do, and we’ll get a firmer due date.

I can do it alone, and I know I can because I did it a lot with Jacob’s pregnancy.  Willem took off several days of work when things went really haywire, early on, and that meant he just couldn’t take the extra time off for the more routine 20-week ultrasound and similar big-deal sorts of appointments.  So Carolyn came up from Massachusetts to drive me to the appointment that determined whether I could go off bed rest, at 16 weeks, and Kelly – with whom I’ve lost touch, but we were fairly close at the time – came with me to the 20-week ultrasound, and I went alone to the appointments following exposure to Fifth Disease and determining the need for bed rest again at the end because of preterm labor, and so on.  We made it work, and I pulled through it all just fine, even when the news wasn’t perfectly good or reassuring.

This time, he has just started his new job, and he’s already making a positive impression on coworkers and superiors.  And, more importantly, he’s enjoying his work, feeling like a professional.  He can’t take time off for something like this so early on, because that means canceling classes and that can’t be done in an offhand sort of way.  I’ve already hit him with the expectation that he try to take a full week off in the spring, when the baby is born, and I won’t ask him to take more time than that.  I’ll try to schedule the other appointments for Fridays, so that he could attend if he wanted to, and that’s all well and good for then.

For now?  I know I can handle going alone.  I know I have to be able to fly solo, because there just wasn’t time to arrange for someone to come along to this one with me.  I know, in my brain, that it will be OK.

But my heart isn’t as confident, and I just don’t wanna go by myself.



  1. I have this superstition that if I go to the OB appointments alone, THAT’S when there’ll be bad news. I’m totally aware that this is absurd but, there it is. So I’m there with you- can do it if I have to but would much rather not.

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