Once upon a time there was a celebrated specialist who mistakenly assumed that humans could prepare for awful, unpredictable, unpreventable events by imagining them.
“You need to be prepared at every ultrasound to have a dead baby,” she said, because there was a 50/50 chance that I could have an ultrasound like that.
I nodded solemnly and then a little voice spoke up. Actually, it wasn’t so little; it was a big booming voice like Hilary Clinton or Queen Latifah.
“No, we’re not going to do that,” said Latifah Clinton. “We are not going to spend the next several months preparing for a dead baby.”
Then Latifah Clinton called the celebrated specialist some unkind names. Luckily, it was all part of an elaborate inner monologue, so the celebrated specialist didn’t hear anything.
But I heard. And I decided to take her advice. What if I went the other way—what if I didn’t think about dead babies during my pregnancy? Of course, that’s easier said than done. You can’t just say, “Don’t think about a dead baby,” because that just makes you think, “Yeesh. I wish I hadn’t thought of a dead baby just now.”
So I needed something a little more sophisticated. I needed some tricks to retrain my brain. That’s where the cognitive science came in. And I needed a list of suggested activities to try. That’s where the Greater Good Science Center came in. And then I needed a way to implement these other activities. That’s when I started blogging.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound like a finished post.” I concur. But really what I wanted to commit to paper was this scene. I keep writing it and rewriting it. Sometimes when I write the scene, my husband and I are angry by the end of it. In other drafts we’re confused but feeling resolute, united. In this draft, I know exactly what to do for the rest of the pregnancy. The truth of the matter is that in real life it all came up: anger, solidarity, a plan and a goal. I’m just trying on different scenes. Like trying on different dress shoes.
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