Monday, April 14, 2014

Control Freak

Zuzu has been taking swimming lessons for a couple of weeks. She loves it, just as she did last year, and is even more fearless and opinionated than she was a year ago (shocking, right?).

We've gotten lucky in signing up for what is evidently an unpopular time (Tuesdays at 4pm) and so far our group class has been a solo endeavor! This means we pay a group rate but Zuzu gets a private lesson each week. Each time we go, one of the employees or another parent watching an older kids' class comments on how much she loves the water and at our first lesson the instructor couldn't believe it had been a year since Zuzu had been in the pool because she was so comfortable in the water.

Plus she looks great in a swimsuit.

I have been making a regular tankini work as a maternity swimsuit

[NOT PICTURED. You're welcome.]

because the maternity suit is still a little baggy in the boobs and belly as I'm in this weird in between stage where I am beyond the burrito-bump belly but not quite at the smuggling-a-watermelon stage.

At our lesson two weeks ago, the instructor was a Very! Perky! woman whose daughter (she mentioned having a daughter so I made myself ask) is seven months old. Partway through our lesson, Perky Swim Coach said, "So I'll feel really bad if I'm wrong about this..." and then asked me when my baby is due.

I was like, Seriously? You think you might be mistaken about this belly being pregnant? But I just told her that my due date is in early August. Of course, her follow-up question was whether we know if it's a boy or a girl.

So then I said that we're waiting to be surprised.

One real benefit of not knowing the gender is that it tends to shut down conversation pretty quickly (assuming you don't like to have in-depth conversations about your pregnancy with strangers--I do not). I have already been asked if we'll try for a boy if this baby is a girl (NO. Full stop.) and I know I would have a hard time stomaching comments about how great it will be for Zuzu to have a sister (yeah... wouldn't that be great?) or the comments about a family being "perfect" if it has one boy and one girl (hard to listen to when your definition of "perfect" is "everyone is alive"). Saying we don't know gives us very little to continue discussing. It also usually allows me to say, "We'll just be happy with a healthy baby!" which is my way of subtly reminding people (or so I like to think) that not all babies are actually born healthy.

Anyway, Perky Swim Coach was amazed that we weren't going to find out the gender and said to me, all wide-eyed and sincere, "Oh, I think that's great, but I'm way too much of a control freak to not find out!"

I smiled and said nothing.

Because that's exactly the point. My thoughts on this are actually pretty similar to what they were when I was pregnant with Zuzu. Not knowing the sex of the baby is a reminder of all the things I can't control about this pregnancy. Of all the things NO ONE can control.

I don't know if it's a boy or a girl. I may or may not get to decide the day this baby is born. I don't know if my labor will be easy or horrible or fast or slow or end in an emergency c-section. I can make plans and I can aim for best-case scenarios, but in the end, it's not entirely up to me.

Not knowing the gender keeps our plans up in the air. Yes, we are expecting and hoping so hard for a healthy baby. But we can't see beyond that. We can't make definite plans. I can imagine Zuzu with a little sister or a little brother, but both scenarios feel equally imaginary.

It doesn't mean it would be any easier or hurt any less if we lost this baby. All it means is that I am recognizing every single day that the outcome is unknown. Boy or girl. Premature or full term. Natural delivery or c-section. Alive or dead. Not all of these are 50/50 chances, but in my experience these statistics are skewed significantly (100% girls; 50% alive).

So while I may want to control every aspect of this pregnancy and delivery, all of my experiences with having babies have forced me to acknowledge that I can't. I don't get to decide when a baby is conceived or when it is born or what the gender is or whether it's alive or dead. So why should I pretend (or let anyone else try to convince me) that any of this is within my control?

I guess there's no cure for a control freak quite like having your baby die. When it becomes acutely obviously that you can't control the most important things in life, everything else seems utterly insignificant by contrast. After that, it's much easier to let the insignificant things go.

Just give me a healthy baby. (And plenty of time to plan nursery decor and buy baby boy clothes if necessary.)


  1. I wish I could either ban stranger pregnancy discussion or make it socially acceptable to be honest. Did you read the post from Pregnant Chicken that said at the turn of the century it wasn't a taboo discussion? I was blown away. Here's the copy and pasted address because I'm link incapable:

    Go water baby Zuzu!! I have to bribe G to blow bubbles in the water, hahaha!!

  2. That bathing suit is too much. I love it.

    I'm a control freak to an extent, but that attitude in pregnancy has always irritated me. Even before we knew our daughter's heart stopped beating my 'plan' was to have a healthy baby and that was it. I had no interest in freaking out over a situation I couldn't truly plan. I feel oddly relaxed about trying again because I know I can temp and take my vitamins and all that other crap but the situation is really not in my hands.

    "I guess there's no cure for a control freak quite like having your baby die." Ain't that the truth.

  3. Yes. Exactly. I loved how it did kind if shut down conversation, or if I was asked "are you hoping for a girl?" (I was asked this more when Finn was with me), I could genuinely say that we just want healthy. People need to be reminded of that. That a healthy baby... That's the jackpot.

  4. Are you ever right. There is no better cure for a control freak than having your child die. :/

    She's adorbs in that suit and of course that's AWESOME she is getting solo lessons! Are you guys going to a chain swim place? We have a few in the Chi area and then the Y. We've done both...

  5. @B. Wilson - we are going to a place called Little Fishes Swim School, which I think is just local. We also did the Y last year, but even though I cringe at the price of Little Fishes, the lessons are SO much more pleasant (for me, I mean). The pools are salt water, the water is warm like a bath, and the group classes are capped at 6 and in our experience usually average 4 students. So it's worth the exorbitant price tag.

  6. She is so cute!

    I NEED to know like the minute I am pregnant if it's a boy or girl, I can't stand not knowing. But your reasons for not finding out do make sense to me, even if it does make me a little crazy!

    Yes, the sucky comments are no matter what I guess. If you end up with "two girls" then you should try for a boy, and if it's a boy then you have a "perfect" family. I remember I had that conversation when I was pregnant with Lucas at a hair salon when I mentioned I already had a daughter after they asked if it was my first pregnancy (and neglected to mention that she was dead because I didn't feel like it), so then she asked what I was having and when I said a boy suddenly I had the "perfect family"...not so much.

    We have gotten the comment that we should try for a girl but luckily the boys are still young enough and close enough to each other in age that we mostly get comments about how we have our hands full!

  7. Ah, yes, the "perfect family." I was very reluctant to tell people when we found out that Baby No. 3 was a boy because I knew those comments would make me cringe. It sounded like people were suggesting that my family was better off with Henry than with Genevieve. Will people ever get past this idea that there is only one perfect kind of family?