It’s about letting go.
Okay, here’s “the thing”.
I’m a control freak…about some things.
I’m also - according to the Myers-Briggs personality test - an Introverted Intuitor Thinker Perceiver.
Me, man! My personality!
Here’s one explanation of my Myers-Briggs personality type and how my lovely INTP head works:
For INTPs the driving force in their lives is to understand whatever phenomenon is the focus of their attention.
They want to make sense of the world-as a concept-and they often enjoy opportunities to be creative.
INTPs are logical, analytical, and detached in their approach to the world; they naturally question and critique ideas and events as they strive for understanding.
This one is particularly timely. From Portrait of an INTP
They are intensely interested in theory, and will put forth tremendous amounts of time and energy into finding a solution to a problem with has piqued their interest.
If you’re really interested in getting to know me - and you know you are - here’s way more, (although none of these profiles take it upon themselves to mention my je ne sais quoi with scarves.)
Just to get a better idea of what we’re talking about, here's a short list of some famous INTPs:
Sir Isaac Newton
How’d you like to be invited to that party?
I’d definitely be the one on the coffee table with the lampshade on my head. Well, me and Bob Newhart.
But how does all this logical, analytical approach to the world work in real life?
What’s it like to live daily in the world of theory such that I’m just as likely to wonder whether man descended from apes -or vice versa - as to actively and seriously ponder the list of ingredients for making pickled red beet eggs?
What’s it like to almost, never, ever, ever “Let go, Let God” because God may not have really thought through the problem. I mean, take a look at the whole Pompeii fiasco. Who puts a volcano on a subduction zone? Or vice versa?
(Stay with me. You know by now that there’s always some payoff to my ramblings.)
Back to more me.
Let’s take pregnancy. It’s a timely subject.
Let’s say that you are an INTP and you decide (eh-hem) to get pregnant.
The first thing to do - after drinking a bottle of wine, donning a see-through nightie, and challenging your husband to a hot-and-heavy game of Scrabble - the first thing to do is to start reading. Read, read, read. Read everything about pregnancy that you can get your hands on. Start with the obvious: The Merck Manual on Gynecology, Obstetrics and Pediatrics. This will give you just enough information to be really dangerous and, what’s more fun, enough reading material to provide 9 month’s worth of analyzing and theory building, otherwise known as "panic attacks".
Oh the possibilities!
Inverted uteri and Hydatidiform moles. Hey, what about choriocarcinoma or HELLP symdrome? And then there are the more commonly heard-of potentialities: miscarriage, gestational diabetes, placenta previa. And we haven’t even gotten to worrying - I mean -theorizing about the health of the fetus, yet. Here’s where the distinct thrill of being both logical and a “creative thinker” at the same time really takes off.
For example, you know that in the United States about 2,500 people per year become ill with listeriosis, an infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, and about 500 will die. And that sucks. But, if you think about it, that's not a whole lot in the scheme of roughly 300 million people, even when considering that pregnant women are about 20 times more susceptible to listeriosis and that the bacteria can be especially harmful to the fetus. I don’t know what, logically, the odds are of any one pregnant woman contracting listeriosis from a hot dog or scoop of pate. Pretty low, I guess. But - and here’s where the fun of being an INTP comes in - theoretically, there’s no reason why that one pregnant woman wouldn’t be me.
Put another way, there are two types of people in this world:
One type of person does not own several copies of the Merck Manual and is more likely to think, “It couldn’t happen to me” even when stepping over a rattle snakes while eating raw hamburger.
The other type of person has the CDCs Listeriosis Disease Listing bookmarked on her computer and perceptibly shakes every time a plate of brie gets passed before her.
Really, I suppose, it’s an ego thing as much as it is a close affinity with Albert Einstein or Bob Geldof, another great INTPer. The whole “Why wouldn’t it happen to me” is very much the dark flipside of that same self-importance which propels INTPs to get up and dance on coffee tables in the first place.
Or, as my buddy Descartes puts it, “I think, therefore, I think a whole lot about myself and to a fault.”
Alfa-fetoprotein tests, gestational diabetes tests, the various genetics tests. All come with their own sets of questions, their own risk/benefit assessments. Some tests which are supposed to narrow down whether or not your baby is genetically “okay” (and this has nothing to do with whether or not he will sneak out of the house when he’s 17, take the family car, and drive it into a mailbox) also have the potential to cause miscarriage. Hmmmmmm. What are the odds? What do I need or want to know? Do I feel comfortable with a goodly helping of mystery, or do I still hold a grudge against my best friend who threw me a surprise party last year at a time she knew I was coming home unshowered from the gym and wearing my ratty bra and the sweatpants with the hole in the crotch? How do I like people jumping out at me? Is it funny or time for a punch to the nose? Might there be someone behind me right now? Well, theoretically, yes.
Hold on, I need to turn around.
No one there.
Although, there could be right now….
Nope. Still no one.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m telling you this because I am about to turn 40.
Well, end of August I’ll turn 40. “About to” is relative after 39 years.
And when you are about to turn 40 and you happen to be pregnant, you are what is gently referred to as an “advanced maternal age” mom.
In other words, you’re at that age where your body is beginning to gracefully disassemble itself - I don’t care what Madonna says - and being happily pregnant is not foremost on the mind of your uterus. It has other things it was thinking about: flushing out elderly eggs by the handful, turning up the heat just a notch, making preparations for the long winter’s nap it will begin in a few years. Sure, 40-year-old women are the sexiest things to walk the planet, don’t get me wrong. 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20 and really, what was wrong with ogling the 17 year old - I mean - 19 year old life guard at the pool today, even if I am chronologically old enough to be his heavily-pregnant mother. Woman’s Day magazine says I’m 20 and that’s good enough for me. Theoretically.
And so with “almost-40-and-pregnant” comes a whole new host of gestational challenges to contemplate.
At age 40, the risk of Down’s Syndrome comes in somewhere around 1 in 150, and there is a higher risk of premature babies, high-blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Good times.
At age 40, the placenta (baby’s comfy safe home) can begin to deteriorate rapidly after the due date and make baby very, very unhappy.
At age 40, maternity tops with Peter Pan collars or lace anywhere look especially ridiculous.
For pregnant women who are nearing age 40, the Merck Manual includes an entire chapter entitled “PPhhhhhhewww. Okay...sit down for this one.”
And so, whereas with my first two pregnancies, I was able to effectively manage all the analyzing and theorizing about hot dogs and Group B Strep and wondering whether my uterus would try to escape after pushing out the baby, with this pregnancy I started out feeling very overwhelmed.
Like “Here’s a Rubik’s cube and a gun to your head: now solve it…or else.”
And so this go around, after the first appointment with my OB during which she somewhat seriously - although she was trying to keep it light, she really was - mentioned all of the above, I immediately went home, did some deep thinking, and then sobbed for a month. I was being gently pressed to make decisions regarding amnios and chorionic villus sampling, both which could detect genetic abnormalities but which also had a slim chance of ejecting the fetus post haste; to prepare for the inevitability of induction should this baby not make his entrance by August 5, my due date; to wonder whether I could really handle a 10-year-old when I was turning 50 and more likely to want to sleep-in or recover from my hip replacement surgery - I don’t care what Women’s Day says - instead of chauffeuring a child to baseball practice and welding classes.
And so, when my adorable little INTP head began smoking and imploding from wondering “What if? What if? What if?”, my loving spouse - who is also an INT (although with a final J instead of a P, but that’s a whole different post) sat me down and said the four words that no self-respecting INTP would ever dare to murmur.
He said: “Let go, Let God.”
To which I said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Fist of all, aren't you an atheist…?”
And he said, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
To which I replied, “But…but…don’t you hate Bobby McFerrin?!”
And he said, “It will all work out. We’ll deal with it. I don’t know how. It’s a mystery.”
And I shouted, “IS THIS WHY OUR LAWN LOOKS THE WAY IT DOES?!”
(Which is only tangentially related, but I’m not going to explain my reasoning on this one.)
So, can you picture it?
Me, the two-bit Socrates, having a freaking knuckle-fest with the freaking Dalai Lama?
Let go, Let God…pfffft.
But you know? I really had no choice this time around.
There was too much. Too much other “life” going on. My worry meter was floored. I mean, not only was I pregnant, but I also had two out-of-uterus children to analyze and theorize over: the beautiful, precocious older daughter who likes to run around barefoot and step on rusty nails; the younger cute-as-a-button girl child who recently scared the pants off me when the pediatric ophthalmologist noticed a “Hmmmmm… this could be nothing or it could be something really serious, but I don‘t want to scare you” abnormality on her optic nerve. (It was nothing, thank…Buddha.)
And let’s look at the facts of this pregnancy:
Before I even knew I was pregnant, but while I was pregnant - in the early stages when all the important brain parts and organs are being developed and when it’s very important to not mess with the process by introducing potentially teratogenic substance or engaging in fetus-threatening activities - well wasn’t I blissfully unaware, skipping around Disney World eating sushi, drinking glass after glass of wine, dropping 13 stories on The Tower of Terror, and then hitting the hot tub in the evening.
All of which, by the way, are pregnancy no-no’s.
Let go, Let God.
I’ve since decided to not undergo the AFP or amnio or CVS tests. We already know that this kid-to-be comes from the same gene pool as a man who put onions under his armpits to ward off disease and a woman who got seriously plastered at Lithuanian Day festivals and then passed out on her grandchildren in the back seat of the car on the way home, so really, what’s more to know?
Let go, Let Halushki.
During this pregnancy, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and have eaten pate, hot dogs, and yes, an entire plate of brie.
Okay, they were all pasteurized or heated to 180 degrees, but still, that’s a pretty big letting-go for me.
Let go, Let Bob Newhart.
Three weeks ago, I too stepped on a rusty nail and had to get a tetanus booster. While pregnant. That’s a lot of Googling “tetanus vaccine pregnancy safety” you can imagine.
Let go, Let Bob Vila.
And two nights ago, I awoke to find a bat flying around in the upstairs of our house with all the bedroom doors open. And the cat was batting the bat. And then, when I tried to get the cat away from the bat, the cat bit me. And then the bat got away.
Oh, there’s much more to this story, which is why this post is not about the bat, but about letting go.
Because, you see, to submit to the series of five rabies vaccinations plus a giant helping of Human Rabies Immune Globulin, and all while you are pregnant and two weeks away from delivering, you really have to let go.
You really have to trust that the vaccine is 100% effective.
You have to have faith that when the almighty They tell you that "it’s safe during pregnancy, that They mean it.
You have to not flip out thinking about the fact that rabies is 100% fatal (the miraculous exception of Jeanna Gise notwithstanding), or wonder whether that one case of rabies crossing the human placenta is statistically important, or whether the newborn’s neutralizing antibody titers will remain high enough after your only receiving three doses of Imovax.
You have to not worry about that stuff.
You have to let go.
You have to trust the ER doctor who yells at you for saying “Rabies Immune Globulin” too many times and instructs you to sit down, relax, and let his Ph.D. do the thinking.
Let go, Let Louis Pasteur.
And that’s what I’m doing.
I’m going for my second rabies vaccination on Sunday.
I’m going to then go watch The Devil Wears Prada and cheer on Meryl Streep.
And I’m going to name this baby Bruce Wayne.
Because no matter what, he’s made it this far.
After all my analyazing and theorizing, I can only conclude that this child's 9-month inoculation with thrill rides, super-heating, potential bacteria exposure, inactivate tetanus and rabies vaccines, and a few stiff drinks will all have the effect of creating a super-human.
A superhero perhaps.
Or maybe, just a kid who likes to play with raccoons.
I don’t know.
But I do know that I’m just not going to worry about it.
Let Go, let go, let go, let go, let go….
P.S. The next post will be about bats.