“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”


This past weekend I was talking to a pleasantly dispositioned nurse who mentioned she’d been on bedrest for all nine months of her recent pregnancy. I remarked on that being unusual and she said that she’d had two previous miscarriages. In one pregnancy she’d lost a baby at five months and in another she’d lost twins at six months. “They determined I have a weak cervix,” she said, continuing with her work. Perhaps due to her medical background, she was straightforward about it, not seeming to say it to solicit sympathy or to invoke horror. Nor was she cold about it. Rather, she simply appeared grateful for her new baby boy and had an undoubtedly hard-won “it is what it is” attitude about what she’d been through.

While not altogether unnerved by the conversation, it stuck with me through the weekend, coming to mind in the midst of other things.

I did not consider myself naive throughout the early months of this pregnancy. Among friends and family there are stories of loss–miscarriages, infertility agony, and death in childbirth–that have reminded me in passing that my husband and I have been sailing along thus far. But when I hit the 20-week mark a little over a week ago it seemed something of a milestone. Coupled with seeing the baby on a sonogram that very day and being told she appeared to be utterly healthy, I became even more comfortable, more secure.

Then came the “at five months” and “at six months” conversation.

There is nothing to do with a reminder that such things happen but consider it. Decide what it means for you and for your situation. Pragmatically speaking, it means nothing. One woman’s weak cervix does not miscarry another’s baby. Upon learning I was pregnant last fall, I vowed that I would not treat it as if it were an egg balanced precariously on a spoon during a race. No fretting, no worrying about superstition, no mitigating against potential future unhappiness by pretending it wasn’t there until it arrived. I would refer to it by name, I would buy it clothes, I would decorate its nursery. This weekend though I was given a gentle alert that such happy determination is the luxury of one personally untouched by loss. A naturally thin woman declaring she’s not going to obsess over calories. A rich man waving a hand idly and saying he doesn’t concern himself with money.

Late yesterday afternoon I felt the baby move for the first time. An initial flutter that I was about to dismiss became a more insistent twinge. My left hand went to meet it. The right hand reached for the phone and dialed my husband. Our little family held an impromptu, lucky five-month celebration. Six months will feel even luckier.


6 Responses to ““The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.””

  1. Big Brother Says:

    When the fear of the uncertain gets to me I go with a WWGD philosophy. (What Would GrandMa Do) She had a way of surfing life’s uncertainty waves that I always envied.

    By the way, I love the use of an Ursala LeGuin quote.

  2. Bridal Bird Says:

    Excellent point. What’s interesting is that I think much of her approach was rooted in her faith. Sort of “He’ll do what He’ll do,” as opposed to “It is what it is.” I can’t say that I’m at that same place yet, if in fact I’ll ever get there.

    It seemed fitting.

  3. johanna Says:

    What a lovely post. Your writing here is at its best.

    Oh yeah, and the whole baby kicking thing is touching, too šŸ˜‰

  4. Dini Says:

    You amaze me!

  5. babybird Says:

    Thank you J. That means quite a lot coming from you.

    And you too Dini! This is your first comment I believe!

  6. Stacy Says:

    I remember when I felt that flutter, like little butterflies flitting their wings. I also remember the realization of what the flutter was. Funny how you instinctively know exactly what it is when it happens. The first of many Ah Ha moments. Beautifully written.

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