That's one other thing that happened in the prenatal class. The midwife was doing a brief overview of possible complications and signs to call the hospital about. "So if you notice any of these signs of pre-eclampsia, or even if you're unsure," she sub-concluded at one point, "it's safest to just give us a call and get checked out. Pre-eclampsia can be serious. Worst case scenario, you might even start having seizures and we'll have to admit you." Uh, no... worst case scenario, you die and your baby dies, too.

But, see, it's awkward to bring that sort of thing up.

I've been taking a prenatal yoga class. I was kind of just looking for the exercise, like I got last time, but for logistical reasons (see: work, babysitting, transport arrangements) I ended up taking about a quarter of this whole yoga-based prenatal course. It's a pretty useful format for prenatal yoga, actually, and I recommend it to anyone who can stomach instructors with high-pitched, breathy tones of voice who use oracle cards to the same extent as they use plastic pelvises*.

Last week, the topic was "dealing with the unexpected". We heard the story about ending up in Holland, rather than Italy, and then we were asked to sit with a partner and discuss our worst case scenario as a prelude to an empathy exercise. At first I tensed - I can think of some pretty bad scenarios, and it's not very polite to freak people out. "You go first," I blurted clumsily to my partner, before we'd even properly sat ourselves down.

"Damn. I was going to say that," she replied, and sat thoughtfully for a moment, before stealing a hesitant glance in my direction. "Well, this is my second time around," she explained, "and after what happened last time, I realise how useless it was to spend all that effort worrying about how I might handle the pain or about various interventions that may or may not be needed. I think as long as my son survives-" she touched her belly- "that's really all that matters."

I nodded gravely. Then, as gently as I could muster, I ventured, "It sounds like things didn't turn out well last time."

"Oh!" she hastened to assure me. "No, they did, they did. Everything went perfectly, in fact. No no no. I just realised, afterwards, how short and insignificant the birth experience was in the grand scheme of things. This time around, I know we'll be ok as long as everything turns out in the long run. That's all. So yes - my worst case scenario is that my son dies. Er... what about yours?"

"Well, it's hard to choose," I replied, feeling a bit reassured about my natural response. "I mean, your baby dying - that's bad. But then what if you died? Or both you and the baby? Or one or both got a very serious injury - in extreme cases, that sort of thing might even be worse." I stopped myself short. "Basically, I agree that I'm fine as long as it turns out ok in the long run. I mean, in the story, everyone actually landed, after all." As we were nodding, the instructor chimed the bells to signal the end of the activity and invited us to assume the lotus position and re-centre our energies using deep, cleansing breaths**.

But I couldn't help trying to think up ever wilder scenarios all afternoon, and when Mr Bea came home, it was his first instinct, too.

"What would be really bad," we found ourselves musing, "would be a coordinated terrorist attack on the hospital during the birth, wherein you and your partner and baby were taken hostage, tortured, and then eventually and horribly killed in some grizzly way or other..." there was a pause here whilst we ran through some grizzly modes of death inside our heads... "one by one and in front of each other. For an ignoble cause you were violently opposed to."

It's not just us, right?

*Although naturally cynical, I tend to think most of this hippy-dippy stuff is just one way of expressing otherwise perfectly sensible ideas. Which is kind of what my mother said when she saw my oracle card. After she stopped sniggering.

**Or in other words: everyone sit down now and shut up. See what I mean?


Rachel Inbar said...

That was too funny - the whole terrorist takeover thing. And I think everyone's worst case scenario is pretty much the same, where one or more people end up dead. I mean, I think it's something that goes through most women's minds... Good that you didn't get a partner whose worst case scenario was breaking a nail on the way to the delivery room or something :-)

DaisyGal said...

um, I still have worst case scenarios...In fact if we take a day off and take the kids to daycare and I go off to enjoy myself without them , I always worry "what if today is the day that the school catches on fire, or a crazy person comes in with a gun or a one of the other kids hits my kid with something that seriously hurts him"

I think, nope I know...that Rachel is right. We as women, we WORRY...we THINK too much and that gets us into trouble.

I know that things with Baby #2 are going to just fine. You should too. ;)

Ellen K. said...

Having experienced pre-e during labor, I would agree that the midwife's worst-case scenario is rather too cheery.

I'm glad you ended up partnering with this woman, though.

Betty M said...

There is a downside to reading too many IF blogs and that is intimate awareness of the many really really shitty things that can happen. Real life tends to provide less examples although a close friend of mine was evacuated mid labour from her hospital due to an arson attack (!) so perhaps the terrorists aren't so unlikely after all...;)

Lut C. said...

I agree with Betty. Knowing too well what could go wrong isn't always an advantage.

Mamá Gringa said...

I live with worst case scenarios all the time to help me deal with fear. I ask myself, "What's the worst that can happen?" wherein I face the fear and realise that it isn't as bad as I really think. It works, considering that the worst case scenario is usually improbable, unless I am having a very bad day... ;P

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