I have a tendency to be a pessimist. I’ve had to fight that my entire life. I don’t naturally find the bright side, but I’ve learned to look for it and to find it even when it seems impossible. This has probably been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself, though I still struggle with it.
I’ve tried to instill that same pursuit of the positive into my children. A few years back, while driving back from a soccer game and listening to them whine about their day, I made up a new game.
“Alright Luka and Matea,” I screamed from the front seat, “I have a new game for us. It’s called ‘Yeah, but…’ Every time you have something negative to say, you have to follow it up with a ‘Yeah, but…’ and then add something positive. I’ll start. Ugh, I’m almost out of gas and the last thing I feel like doing right now is stopping at a gas station. Yeah, but… I have a car! And I have money for gas, and I don’t ever want to take those things for granted. Okay, your turn now.”
My son, Luka, quickly spoke up, “We lost our soccer game, and I’m really upset about it. Yeah, but… I love my team and my coach, and I’m glad we have another game next week.”
Then Matea spoke up, “I was really bored today all day. Yeah, but… tomorrow I have a play date with Siena!”
The “Yeah, but…” game now takes place almost every day in our home. I don’t allow my kids to dwell on the negative. They can complain, but they have to find something positive to follow it. There are too many good things in their lives (in all of our lives), and I would be doing them a disservice if I allowed them to always just marinate in the negative.
As I’m typing this, I’m late for an appointment I had made with my midwife a few weeks ago—the first appointment I was going to take my kids to so that they could hear their little sibling’s heart beat.
Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat and no baby anymore.
I was pregnant and so excited about it. It was well thought out, and after two months of trying, my husband and I were in tears when that second pink line showed up on the pregnancy test. I made my children t-shirts that said “Big Sister” and “Big Brother AGAIN!,” packed them up in gift bags, and we videotaped their reactions as they opened the bags and realized that, after years of begging for a little sibling, they were finally going to have one. They kept hugging and kissing my stomach. Matea had tears in her eyes. They were both so overwhelmed with joy. We all were. We went out to dinner that night to celebrate and answer all their many adorable questions. “Can I teach the baby how to roller skate?” “Can the baby sleep in my room? We can move all my toys to make enough room for the crib.”
Two weeks ago my husband and I were in San Francisco celebrating my birthday. As we were getting ready to go out for my birthday dinner, I suddenly started bleeding. We called the midwife, called the doctor, went to a health clinic in San Francisco, but we couldn’t get any answers. When we returned home two days later, I went in for an ultrasound and to our surprise found out that we were originally supposed to have twins, but one never made it. It seemed that was what was causing the bleeding.
I was in shock. I had always wanted twins. My grandmother, who I am very close with, had twins, but they were born early at a time when there were no incubators, so they never made it. Ever since hearing her story as a little kid, I dreamed of having twins. Finding out that dream was actually a possibility, but now was gone, filled me with such sadness. And then I thought… Yeah, but…the bleeding I was so worried about means we lost one, but we still have another one. We’re still having a baby. I need to be thankful for that.
Within two days we found out the other one was in trouble, too. For the following week and a half I had numerous doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds, blood work. Every day I seemed to be getting different results. We found out that, unfortunately, there was a very small chance this baby would actually make it, but then a day later everything looked hopeful. And then it didn’t again. And then it did. It was a crazy emotional rollercoaster ride, to say the least. After a day when I was more hopeful than ever, even giddy again about the pregnancy, we found out the baby had no chance, and I was immediately taken in to have a D and C (a surgical procedure where the doctor removes everything from the uterus).
I sat there while they gave me shots and pills to prepare me for the procedure, and I couldn’t stop crying. I kept thinking about how angry I was, how I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, how I couldn’t imagine that I’d have to go home and break my kids’ sweet little hearts with this news. The timing of this pregnancy was so perfect for so many reasons. And now all those hopes and dreams were over. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that within an hour, my pregnancy would be officially over. Just like that. Over.
The procedure was really painful and traumatic for me. The doctor and nurse kept handing each other strange tools and using medical terms that I didn’t understand. As I lay there and tried to be brave, the pain was so intense and kept getting worse. Tears were streaming down my face, and I was grabbing onto the bed as tight as I could, and then suddenly instead of focusing on the pain, I chose to start focusing on…
Yeah, but… I’m so thankful I have Luka and Matea.
Yeah, but… my sweet husband is waiting for me right outside the door, and he can’t wait to hold me.
Yeah, but… time heals.
Yeah, but… I believe in God’s timing. I believe in the strength and peace my faith gives me.
Yeah, but… the blessings in my life have always and will always outnumber the losses in my life.
Yeah, but… life is still good. Really, really good.
(Update: One year and 12 days after I wrote this post, I gave birth to my sweet boy, Ari.)