Monday, March 5, 2012

Counting to Five

"Well, fear's sort of an odd thing. When I was in residency my first solo procedure was a spinal surgery on a sixteen year old kid, a girl. And at the end, after thirteen hours, I was closing her up and I, I accidentally ripped her dural sac, shredded the base of the spine where all the nerves come together, membrane as thin as tissue. And so it ripped open and the nerves just spilled out of her like angel hair pasta, spinal fluid flowing out of her and I... and the terror was just so crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it. So I just made a choice. I'd let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that's all I was going to give it. So I started to count: one, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone. I went back to work, sewed her up and she was fine." ~ Dr. Jack Shepherd

Lately the question I get asked by nearly everyone is "Do you know when Jericho's coming home?"

Up until recently that question has had no definitive answer. For the past two months, Jericho and all his people have been strung along without any real goal to why they were still in Kuwait. They had little real work to do. They were forming various sports leagues and Jericho was getting a lot of gym time in [which I also benefit from so no complaining here] but none were clear on their purpose in continuing to be overseas. Morale was low. People were anxious to go home. They were told amorphous future plans with assumed possibilities that they'd come home early instead of keeping on with the bogusness of the past two months.

I usually spared people the long answer to the question and said, "We don't know but worst case scenario will be June/July but the way things are going now, they should be coming home early, probably in the spring some time."

As of this past Friday, I have a real answer. After two months of dilly dally, they decided to send his platoon to Afghanistan for 90 days and will be coming home for good in July. Jericho estimates a return date of July 24. So far, this seems like a bona fide plan, at least the most bona fide plan thus far, but Jericho assures me that "this is the army", meaning they could change their minds at will. Being in self-preservation mode, I'm now assuming this is the real plan.

I tried not to bank on the idea of him coming home early. I assumed I'd be doing the taxes, taking myself out to dinner for our anniversary, going to my baby gender ultrasound by myself. 

No matter how much I logically didn't assume he'd be here, I still found myself majorly ticked that coming home early was off the table. He'll be gone for another five months. Five more months of prego aloneness. Five more months of Sydney aloneness. On Friday, the day of the news, I had very heavy boots. Every time I looked at Sydney and her awesomeness. Every time I ate a meal by myself. Every time Sydney cried and fussed and I didn't think my arms could handle it anymore. I kept focusing on this giant spotlight of loneliness and fatigue shining on me for all the world to see.

And I was miserable. That night, after Sydney went to bed and I finally got a shower and I painted my toenails the happiest pinkest color I have, I let myself cry. I cried it all out. And then I was done. I fancy myself pretty heroic. I'm competitive and egotistical. And to feel like I'm falling down without a grip on any kind of safety rail is foreign and uncomfortable. It's why I don't ski.

So that Saturday I woke up feeling a million and one times more fantastic. I can't tell you exactly why. I just knew that I was done being afraid and pitiful. I counted to five, let in all my fear and sadness and self-pity, and then it was over.

On Jericho's end, they obviously would much rather be coming home, but going to Afghanistan to have real work to do is infinitely better than what they've doing in Kuwait. So for that, I'm happy. I'm happy that he'll be feeling useful and getting to drive big fun trucks around. I'm happy that now he'll be busy, the time will go by faster for him. I'm happy we'll still be able to communicate. I'm happy that even though he's going to where the real war is, he's in a super-duper armored truck that he assures me "is meant to be blown up and keep on going."

My last pregnancy, the countdown to birth sadly coincided with Jericho leaving. This time, the birth countdown [kind of] coincides with Jericho coming home. Look at that! I'm going to make a construction paper chain for my weeks of pregnancy/when Jericho comes home. Anyone else who has a countdown, feel free to join me in my juvenile construction paper excitement.


  1. I'm sorry you don't get Jericho back for awhile. I'm sure these experiences are going to make you stronger and be a good thing in the end, but I'm sure it's hard to see it that way for now. We made a baby count down chain for Jane, and I was just thinking a little while ago that we may need to do that again.

  2. I had no idea you are pregnant! Congratulations! I think you are entitled to a good cry with that news and pregnancy always adds a little extra fun to the mix. I hope you aren't feeling super nauseous--if so, we'll have to do a girls night or something to get your mind off that stage. That always helps me. :)

  3. PS I love Jack. He's nice to look at, too.

  4. You've said before that you admire moms with more than one kid, but holy moly I think you're amazing for doing everything by yourself. I think a construction paper chain sounds awesome; I might make one to count down until newbaby comes. Take care!

    P.S. What color nail polish did you use? I've been looking for a good pink.


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