Saturday, October 24, 2009

Becoming Superwoman

Seven years ago this fall I was in the midst of my "superwoman transformation". We were living overseas, my husband was deployed, I was caring for 2 children under age 3, and I was 6 months pregnant with twins. Yeah. That was a fun time! I was tired and achy, lonely for my husband, and trying really hard to not be overwhelmed. I was failing.

My husband and his commanding officers were fully aware of my needs and when I gave the word, it was only a matter of logistics to get my husband home a couple of weeks early. I don't like being in situations like that. I don't like asking for help or admitting I have reached my limits. I second guessed myself over and over as I tried to get the necessary doctors' notes to prove that I needed my husband home.

A week after he returned I stopped feeling guilty. I had been admitted to a neonatal hospital in Nuernberg Germany. The stress had not been relieved, it had just changed. I had started dilating and the doctors were afraid I would go into labor any minute. We were playing the "wait and see" game.

Shortly after admitting me and getting me settled into a room, a nurse came in to explain all the possible complications from delivering my babies at 30 weeks. The list was long and devastating. After the nurse left, my roommate tried to comfort me. She was also American. She had been pregnant with identical twins who shared an amniotic sack. They had been at a much higher risk for complications. She had been in the hospital for several weeks and had just delivered by scheduled C-section. She was cheerful and optimistic. The doctor had intentionally put us together so we could support each other, a gesture that was not only successful but inspired. Her companionship and positive attitude went a long way to reassure me.

My husband called our Bishop to come to the hospital and give me a priesthood blessing. I don't remember much about what was said except that the babies would be born in the Lord's time and that others would look to me as an example because of what I would go through. I felt comforted and at peace. At the same time I was sure that I was going to deliver my babies any minute and they would have all kinds of terrible birth defects because of it. Why else would people look to me as an example?

A few days later I was home from the hospital, still pregnant. The doctors felt that I was doing fine and as long as I didn't overdo it, I had a good chance of carrying the twins to term. They were born at 36 weeks, small but healthy. Huh. Well, maybe there was something wrong with them that we hadn't noticed yet. Or maybe I was making too much of what had been said in the blessing. Maybe I had misunderstood.

Time passed and although the next year is a blur, I didn't really see that I was doing anything special or noteworthy. About half way through my husbands deployment to Iraq, I ran into another spouse I hadn't seen in a while. Our husbands worked together but we really didn't socialize.

For some reason she was in a talkative mood and instead of the usual "hi" or head nod, she asked about the kids and told me about hers. Then she said "you know, when I am having a bad day and want to just give up, I think of you. My day automatically gets better. I know that I have nothing to complain about compared to you. If you can do it, I certainly can." All I could do was stare. I was overwhelmed with so many thoughts and emotions I didn't know how to respond.

She just smiled and said her goodbyes. As she walked away I tried to make sense of what she had said. This was a woman I barely knew. I had so little contact with her I barely remembered her name. Yet she had looked to me as an example. I knew, down to my bones, that this was a fulfillment of the blessing I had received almost 2 years before. I was humbled by how the Lord had used me and ashamed of myself for doubting his words.

Sometimes I might get a little proud and a little self-centered, but mostly I don't think I am so different from anyone else. I could bore you to tears with stories of other people who have in some way inspired me. Through this experience and a few others I have learned that I don't have to be the best ever or the most perfect, amazing, superhuman, Stepford mom robot on earth. That person doesn't exist. A line from one of my favorite movies says it best;  'Don't be a great man, just be a man and let history make its own judgments." Apparently, when you do your best, people notice.


Amy said...

I am pretty sure I have told you this before, but I am one of the women who looks to you for inspiration! I, too, think of you when I am having a hard day and it instantly feels not so bad! I love you, thank you for being an awesome superwoman!!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Amy, I love you, too!