When something bad happens, I think most people have a tendency to revisit the event over and over again in an attempt to determine what went wrong so it can be prevented in the future. It’s probably an artifact of evolution, left over from when it was important for us to learn how to get away from wild animals that wanted to eat us. Now that most of us are not in danger of becoming someone else’s lunch, we revisit conversations we had that could have gone better, decisions we should have made differently and things we should have thought of.
I’m generally an anxious person, so I’m a big fan of revisiting bad things that have happened. When you revisit things often enough, it could be said that you’re “obsessing” about something. I obsess about most things that happen. I spend a lot of my mental energy living in the past. This is a bad habit that at least I’m aware of. Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of a revisiting/obsession/thought-loop and when I do, I say things like “It happened that way. I can’t change the way it happened now. I did my best with the information I had at the time.” I owe these counter-mantras to Buddhist/Jewish writer Sylvia Boorstein and her brilliant book Happiness is an Inside Job. The idea of not worrying about things you can’t change is at the heart of Buddhism. The desire for things to be different than they are causes suffering.
I’m writing this now because I’ve been revisiting the events of this month quite frequently. It’s taken me about three weeks now to come out of the thought-loops. My counter-mantras are now things like, “You did everything you could. You could not have prevented this. This is the way it happened and you cannot change it. You did nothing to cause this.” I think something like that every time my brain decides to conjure up the scene of the nurse telling me my c-section was scheduled for 1pm that day… or the doctor telling me out of the blue that the baby was too small… or my conversation with my OB about my concerns about my blood pressure at the beginning of March. The nature of the condition I had is that it comes on quickly and it’s not currently possible to predict with any certainty. The best method of treatment for someone in danger of preeclampsia is close monitoring. Which is exactly what we all did. We all did everything we could.
And my baby is fine. He’s still in the NICU and while that’s heartbreaking for me (and another thing I can’t change at the moment), he’s going to come home. I produced a thriving baby. That was the point of the whole thing anyway. And he’s completely and totally worth it. I’d go through all of this all over again in real life (not just in my head) in order to get him. It happened the way it happened and I’m going to accept it and love this baby.