The Lily Story, Chapter 3 – Immediate Reactions

In chapter 2, I related how Amanda told me that we were pregnant

Before I get going, I am going to go on a little rant. Skip it if you want – it has little to do with the story, just a little bone to pick with critics of word choice. Click “Rant” to expand it.

Rant

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system:

We were pregnant. I was sitting in a church parking lot under a little scraggly tree on my phone with my wife. My pregnant wife. The sun was shining very brightly. That moment after we hung up the phone was a very long moment.

I was at the beginning of realizing that I had no clue what was going to happen.

I am an anxious sort of person, I always know what’s going to happen. Not because I am some prophet or something, but because I have this intense desire to always appear to be very well composed and calm. This desire leads to me constantly thinking about what I am going to do when something happens, or when I do something, or when I go somewhere. I do this head-on-a-swivel thing when I am in a new situation: I try to turn my surroundings into a fire hose of information that I am trying to access and analyze in real time, so that I can develop some really good heuristics for the next time I am in a similar situation. I have become very good at this.

But there I was, contemplating a situation that will now change all other situations to come after it. No mental shortcuts applied here. My mind was in totally new territory. The very soil of this territory had a signal-jamming effect that forced me to re-evaluate everything. Simple things. Things like interacting with others. Even sitting next to other people (as I was about to do when I went back in to the lecture) presented a new situation that I had never before encountered.

  • “What do I tell them when they ask where I was?”
  • “Do I smile and enjoy the joy? Or should I wait until I am alone?”
  • “What if I start crying?”
  • “Do I just leave and try to explain later?”
  • “What if I accidentally let slip what I just learned? Should I be telling people right now? Can I trust these guys to keep it quiet? What if I tell them or lose my cool and later we lose the baby and then I have to tell people all of that?”

This is a sample of what went through my head by the time I had gotten back to the door. You know, all 20 feet. I still don’t remember even generally speaking what the lecture was about.

So my mind did this thing that I am at a loss of words to describe. “Fuzzy” is pretty close. Like you are walking through thick mist in a familiar neighborhood, and something hidden in the mist is making an unfamiliar noise. You have no idea exactly what is right around you, but you know where you are. You have no idea exactly what is happening, but you’re pretty sure that nothing is about to hurt you. You aren’t scared, but you’re not sure that feeling safe is a good idea.

It was a pretty strange feeling. I can’t say that I’ve gotten used to it, even now – when Lily is eight weeks old. But I can say that it is an interesting paradigm to find oneself in. And you don’t stop living life just because your brain wants to go find a corner to hide in and scream.

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