Several months ago, my husband made plans to go out and visit his father. I was fine with it. In some ways I wanted to go with him, but didn’t have anyone to leave my kids with for a week, and didn’t really want to leave them that long, either; nor did we want to take them, not least of which reason was buying a plane ticket for each of them. So, I was going to pack him off for a week of fun out West, while I spent a lot of time at my mom’s, or with the kids in front of DVDs and me in front of the computer. In some ways, I was even looking forward to it, until…
For no apparent reason, towards the end of the school year (he’s a teacher), I started having morbid thoughts about him, for no apparent reason. He was five minutes late home from school, and I started planning his funeral from a car wreck — that sort of thing. Weird. No logical reason for it. Once he drove a bus after school or had a meeting and was nearly an hour late — either he forgot to call me and tell me, or I didn’t get my voicemail — and by the time he drove up (completely safe and sound), I had not only planned the funeral, but was trying to figure out if I wanted my mother-in-law to move in to help me with the kids or not. Yeah, kinda insane, I know. I tried to say that it was just because of the way my father died (car wreck — one day, he just didn’t come home) — but it seemed more than that, because I couldn’t figure out why on earth I might be having such dark and gloomy thoughts all of a sudden with such great frequency and regularity — sometimes I would even drift into such macabre thoughts in the middle of the day — thinking things like, “I wonder if he made it to school today?” or “I wonder if he will get in a wreck on the way home today?”
I thought it would get better when he was done with school and didn’t have to go anywhere, but it didn’t. If anything, the negative thoughts and feelings intensified. Visions of car wrecks on the way to the airport and plane crashes over Texas filled my head. For no reason.
Then, a few days before he was scheduled to fly out to see his dad, my husband told me that he had been having morbid thoughts as well — thinking things like, “What if this is my last week with my family?” and such. Premonitions that he would die. And it was associated with him going out to visit his dad. I had resisted telling him my fears (complete with planning a funeral, having to call his brother back from a business trip across the country, filing insurance paperwork, not to mention all the plans we had for the summer being completely disrupted — yeah, I have an active imagination), but when he told me his thoughts, I told him the same thing had happened to me, too. It wasn’t too difficult for him to take the complete lack of peace he had with his travel plans and put them on hold. As frugal as I am, I was in complete agreement with him not flying out, even if it meant he would lose the money he had spent on the ticket. With the decision made, we both felt like we were in a place of peace.
Although he wishes he could have gone out to visit his dad (and his favorite brother, who chose to visit his dad at the time when my husband was going to be there — so much for plans!), he simply did not feel right about going. We may never know why he had such a feeling of foreboding — particularly since he loves flying, and even has his private pilot’s license! The flights he would have taken did not crash; we did not hear of any fatal car accidents that he might have been involved in on the way to or from the airport; his dad and his brother are just fine; it’s possible he would have gotten mugged or his car stolen from the airport parking lot had he been away; and although all the feelings of fear from both of us were based on him dying, it is possible that it might have been me or the kids who could have gotten hurt or injured with him gone. Or something else horrible.
We may never know why we both felt like he was going to die if he went out to see his dad. But we did. So he didn’t.
Sometimes when a woman makes a decision about how she gives birth, it may not make sense to her why she feels the way she does. She may have some ill-defined fear or sense of foreboding that is not logical, but is preventing her from choosing a way that she otherwise would. I’ve read numerous birth stories written from women like this — for some, it is choosing a home birth when they ordinarily would have a hospital birth; for others, it’s choosing a hospital birth when they would ordinarily have a home birth. Some women have said, “Thank God we were at home — I would have been given a C-section unnecessarily had we been at the hospital!” Others will say, “Thank God we were at the hospital — my baby would have died in a home birth.” And they both may be right.
It’s normal and logical to have some episodes of fear or misgiving when contemplating birth, regardless of your history and background, particularly if it’s your first birth and this whole thing about birth is a great unknown. But I make a difference between passing qualms or “cold feet” and a complete lack of peace, such as my husband and I felt about his going out to see his dad. If you don’t feel peace with your birth plans, try to figure out why and do what you can to get to a place of peace. If you don’t feel at peace with your choice of care provider (even if your best friend and everybody she knows lives him/her), make a different choice.
A friend of mine told me about someone she knew who was pregnant with twins, and had a real sense of fear for her upcoming C-section. She died on the operating table. Perhaps she should have listened to her intuition. It may be that she did actually need a C-section; but perhaps a different day, a different doctor, there might have been a different outcome. The weird thing about my story above, is that I have no qualms about my husband going out to visit his dad, and have even encouraged him to go out. He had planned on leaving about 10:00 in the morning to make sure he made it to the airport with plenty of time to park his car and check in early and all that; but I figured that he could have left even by about noon and still made it. By noon, I was feeling peaceful, and even suggested that he still go on his trip, though he had already called his dad to tell him he couldn’t make it, but had not yet canceled his ticket. Maybe there was something that would have happened if he had gone at 10, but not at 12. Who knows? But I still think that if he had gone as originally planned, then I would be writing this as a widow. And I don’t have a logical explanation for that.
[Oh, and if you know me in real life or via facebook, please keep this quiet. My husband and I are downplaying to most everybody we know the depth of emotion this seemingly insignificant choice generated. We just said something like, “We had a strong feeling he ought not go.”]