|by Charles Swindoll|
looking back on growing up, if there was one principle my dad tried to hammer home, it was the importance of controlling your attitude. he hung that quote from Charles Swindoll on my bulletin board in my high school bedroom, and referenced it incessantly. so much discussion about attitude prompted many a concealed eye-roll on my part, but apparently, it stuck.
it took me a really long time to realize the difference between controlling your attitude, and squelching your feelings.
for years, if i had a negative or ungracious thought or feeling, i would toss it aside as quickly as i could. can't let negative circumstances stand in the way of having a positive attitude, i thought. but i've since learned, there is something to be said for a good wallow.
just because you end up in a place of gratitude, where you're thankful for your blessings, doesn't mean you have to completely glaze over the truly unfortunate aspects of your current situation. just as it is possible to experience incredible joy and debilitating sorrow in the very same moment, one can also have a positive attitude while feeling all those hard feelings. you can have them both.
this is something that is hard for many people to understand. over the past month, i've beat my head against the wall during many a phone conversation where the person on the other end was trying their hardest to persuade me about all the positives of bed rest. it could be worse, they'd say. i say, just because it could be worse, doesn't mean it isn't still shitty. it's as though they were afraid that if i lost sight of the positive, even for just a moment, i'd try to nosedive off the top of the building. so many times, i felt like screaming just let me be angry! let me mourn! allow me to feel it!
before my existence was reduced to being the incubator of another human being, i was a(n incredibly overly dramatic) person with goals. hobbies. pleasures. a career that i loved and had worked really hard for. now, that career has been postponed. i’m trying to do a few things while on bed rest in order to receive some credit for residency during this time, but there will still be months to make up. IF the baby is born early—say around 35-36 weeks—i might actually have a shot of getting back from maternity leave and being able to make up the missed time before the August 31st deadline. if the baby isn't born until her due date, or even if she makes it to term (37 weeks), i won't have time. if i don’t finish my residency requirements by August 31st, i have to postpone taking my board exams until November 2015…and graduation will be delayed even further as well.
it’s a hell of a trade-off: either a healthy, full-term baby, or the career i've worked so hard for. i can’t have both.
i know that having a healthy baby is supposed to take priority, and maybe it’s incredibly selfish of me to even say this out loud, but i’ve worked really hard for a really long time to now be faced with the possibility of it all getting screwed up. this whole bed rest thing has got me feeling like I...me...Emily...have become secondary to this whole process. like my whole existence revolves around incubating this baby and keeping her safe. i feel ignored. it feels like all the advice and encouragement i'm getting is centered around me setting aside all my wants, hopes, and desires in order to be able to bring this baby safely into the world.
taking care of my baby comes at the cost of taking care of myself. my muscles have atrophied to the point that i'm losing weight. sleeping at night is incredibly difficult when you're barely expending any energy during the day. i was strong and healthy and capable before getting put on bed rest. now i feel like i am none of those things. i knew that pregnancy would require me to surrender my body to this process, but this feels a little extreme.
there’s a part of me that wants to do this for her, to keep her safe, to give her a chance to grow. but there’s another huge part of me that is just so pissed off that I have to. not everyone does. why me? i get angry at other pregnant women, going about their daily lives, able to protect and grow their babies while still having their own life and existence. i laugh bitterly at the irony of it all. i was hell-bent on clinging to my identity after having a baby. it was of the utmost importance to me to not lose myself in the process of becoming a mother. and now here i am, completely lost for the sake of my baby girl.
i haven't forgotten how fortunate i am. how i've managed to stay pregnant for 5 weeks longer than anyone thought that i would. how the Air Force is paying my way and alleviating any financial worry. how i'm finally home and how much better that is than being in the hospital. how incredibly great my friends and family are, and how so many of them seem to know the exact words i need to hear at the exact moment i need to hear them. there is still so. much. to be thankful for. and i am.
my overall attitude is positive. i will get through this. i can do it. i AM doing it. and i'm trying hard to believe everyone who tells me that she is worth it. most days i do. but those feelings that creep up in the background? i've finally learned that i'm allowed to feel them. to talk about them. to share them. if for no other reason than to let others know that it's okay to feel things like this. it doesn't make you a bad person. it makes you a person of texture. capable of the full range of human emotion.
it's something that no person or circumstance can take away from you...this ability to feel. so do it. even when it hurts.