On Monday afternoon last week I sat on the side of my hospital bed while my love unplugged my IV pump so he could help me limp to the bathroom of my tiny hospital room and try to pee. My ability to pee had been a little uncertain in the last 24 hours, and I’d already taken two unsuccessful trips to the bathroom that morning.
I was gazing at the small slice of blue sky visible between buildings but thinking about something else.
“I had such big plans for this month,” I said. “There were so many things I wanted to do.”
But life happens, sometimes, doesn’t it?
The last two weeks of my life included two ER visits, pain so intense I couldn’t stand to be touched, unexpected surgery, two nights in the hospital, the first week of what may be five or more weeks of recovery, more narcotic pain medication than I ever expected to ingest, and none of the things I expected to do so far in May.
Today is the first day I’ve been able to sit sort of comfortably at my desk again and when I pulled out my blog planner to see where I had left off I just laughed. I might have cried a tiny bit, too.
I crossed out the dates “April 28-May 2” at the top of my to-do list and wrote in “May 12-16.” And then I crossed off half the things on the list because there is no way I have enough focus or stamina to do all that!
This last week since being released from the hospital has reminded me so much of the first week after my daughter was born. The week before she was born I had a pretty good idea how much I could accomplish in a day, how much energy I could reasonably expect and how to nurture it across the arc of the day so I didn’t crash before bedtime. I knew what I wanted in my life and how to make it happen.
The week after she was born I didn’t know anything. The smallest things were accomplishments. Brushing my teeth, taking a shower, eating with one hand, just figuring out how to get her to sleep. I had no idea what my life was going to look like after this, and I no longer knew what I wanted.
On Tuesday last week I was really excited to take a shower. At home, in my own bathroom. I loved that shower. And then I had to lay down and take a nap to recover from it.
With all of this laying in bed I’ve had a lot of time to ponder what I’m doing with my life right now and how I feel about it. Am I putting energy where I want to be putting energy? What do I want to let go of? What do I want more of and need to make room for? What will I have to change, as a result of this experience?
I think without the experience of those newborn weeks three years ago, the experience of these last two weeks would have been so much harder. Because I’ve been through a mind- and body-altering experience before, I trust the resilience of my body and the clarity of my heart. I know I will heal. I know I will find a new normal for myself. It won’t be like I was before, but it will be OK. I know it may take some time.
Big physical experiences – birth, miscarriage, extreme illness, accidents – have a way of resetting your perspective. But it can take some time to figure out what you’ve learned from the experience and to feel clear about what you might want to do about it.
I’m still in the unclear place.
It is really hard to sit with uncertainty. I know it is. But so, so worth it. I know that, too.
If this is where you are in your life as well, I encourage you to stay here. Don’t run away from it, as tempting as that is. Don’t fill it up with Facebook and TV and busy. Try to sit quietly, for as long as you can. Trust that you will feel certain again. Trust your heart knows what you need and will speak up if you give it a place to speak into.
Sit in trust. Right here next to me.