6 o’clock in the morning. Good morning. I pull into the parking lot of our local emergency room. Thank God there’s a spot closish to the entrance. I waddle, hunched over, to the lady at the front desk. “How can I help you ma’am?”
I lean forward to talk to her, gripping the desk in pain.
“I need a catheter, please. I woke up with my bladder completely full and I cannot pee.”
If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would ever crawl into an ER begging for a catheter, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. But now it’s just a normal part of my pregnant life.
And yes, I am pregnant with baby number 3!!! Surprise! Baby girl number 3!
So why do I wander into ER’s begging for catheters while pregnant? For some reason this funny little body of mine has an odd condition during the late 1st trimester where if my bladder gets too full, it locks down or spasms or something and nothing can come out. This might all sound very simple, but it is horrendously painful – hence why a catheter all of the sudden becomes so appealing.
So why am I telling you all of this? I’m telling you because when I found myself in this predicament with baby number 3, my experience of it was so different than it was with baby number 1. The first time it happened, my head was swirling with so many judgments and so many potential solutions, and I believed every single one of them:
“It’s my fault that this happened – I should have been more careful about going to the bathroom.”
“My bladder could explode any minute, and I might lose the baby!”
“If I could only relax, then my body would start working again!”
And most of all.
“This SHOUD NOT BE HAPPENING TO ME!!!!”
You see, somewhere along the line, we were told a story that a good life should be a continuous string of experiences along the lines of sipping rosé in a golden sunset. So when emergency rooms and catheters come calling we feel like we got it wrong somehow or that life has somehow turned against us.
But life is rosé sunsets and it is catheters. It is a warm snuggle with a child and feeling inexplicable rage. It is sharing the deepest intimacy with a partner and then feeling worlds apart. It is a moment of pure peace and it is a gripping panic attack.
The privilege of being alive is getting to witness, to participate, in all of it – knowing that none of it is personal and that all of it – every thought, feeling, experience, etc. – is passing. It will all change even though the real You never does.
So this time, I stood hunched over in the waiting room and gripped my chair while praying to pee on myself with a little more grace. I still thought thoughts like, “this shoudn’t be happening to me.” But I didn’t actually believe them. How could thoughts like that ever be true anyway? I noticed the poor man next to me who was there because he had back pain and hadn’t slept for a week; I know what it’s like to not sleep for a week. I gratefully accepted the wheel chair when they came to take me back. I joked with the nurse who took care of me because she was sweet and because I could. I reveled in the relief that that fantastic catheter provided.
And then I drove home with an empty bladder. I opened the door of my home not feeling ready for a day full of chasing toddlers, but simultaneously grateful for another day of life that I can.
Rosé sunsets and catheters. That’s what it’s all about. And it’s all good.