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Hi Sarah, I love today's post and I've read through all of the comments from the Comfortably Numb posts. I think that being numb is far more common than many of us would like to admit. I think that taking time and taking steps to get through the busyness of life is exhausting and sometimes one has to be "numb" to deal with a difficult situation. I also think that I wouldn't appreciate joy and happiness if I didn't have some challenging situations which require me to be numb. If every situation were easy would we appreciate the exciting, exhilarating moments as much. Taking time and taking steps is great advice and so helpful in muddling through unpleasant or difficult experiences.

Hi Sarah ... like Amy, I really loved today's post. But after listening to JL's thoughts on expectations, I found myself struck by the fact that I wanted to disagree with her. Sort of. Actually, I just wanted to add a little more to what she was saying.

I'm 39, and like you, pretty successful and single. I spent the better part of my 20s and nearly all of my 30s believing 2 different doctors who told me I couldn't have children ... that my uterus wasn't fit to procreate. In fact, last year (around this time) when I missed two periods I was quick to assume that maybe I was going through a really early menopause. But then, after 4 pee sticks, a blood test and several days of hyperventilating, my world flipped upside down. I was pregnant.

All those expectations of the single life I was going to lead, of being "the cool aunt" to my nieces and nephews who, as munchkins, liked to ask "why don't you have babies," and not preparing nearly enough for a future that could be passed down (I have a bag fetish that's been cutting into my investments for years and years) went down the drain.

So up until this point it seems I agree with your friend. Don't have expectations.

But I think JL forgot to say something else.

Just because one doesn't have expectations (for labor or delivery or motherhood) ... just because one enters into the situation with an open mind ... doesn't mean you have to go in without knowledge or understanding. In fact, the more I read and the more classes I took and the more I learned about the process, the more prepared I was for the idea that every delivery is different. Every baby enters the world in her own way. And every baby brings her own baggage and lifestyle with her. So, like JL approach to her second baby, take all the information, knowledge and experience you can muster into the situation ... leave all the baggage of expectations at home ... and no matter what happens, it'll be the right thing.

I have a 6-month old baby girl these days ... and boy oh boy is life different. Not at all like I expected. :)

Jeanne, I have to agree with your plan to enter a given situation with as much information, knowledge, and experience as possible, and leave the expectations at the door, but that's harder than you might think. As you said, I had high expectations with my first childbirth experience, and ended up with a horribly complicated pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum period. That's what prompted my approach to birth #2. My situation is a little different, though, in that I am a physician (Sarah mentioned that in her post but I didn't articulate it in that clip), so what I suffer from in these situations is more of a knowledge and experience overload than anything else. It's that training that hampered my ability to relax and experience things in the first birth; letting it go and "being there" was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

The good news is, though, that with two healthy, happy, active and eager little boys at home, it's a lot easier to live in the moment than I ever though possible - usually because that moment involves rescuing the toddler from the toilet or the dog from the four-year-old who's trying to ride her like a pony. Not a lot of time for introspection these days! It's a great ride, though. I'm amazed and humbled every day by my life, and by theirs.

I like your idea of what to teach your future child(ren). When my son was first born, I did everything I could to make him content and ease whatever unhappiness he had. That makes sense for a newborn. As a toddler, however, I am teaching him the idea that sometimes we just have to be sad about it (we can't always play with toys others are already playing with), as well as how to ask for what he wants/needs (milk! crackers! up!, and especially please!). Sometimes it's ok to be sad or mad or numb; many times we can take action. I think these are invaluable lessons in life, and it is fortunate for your someday child that you will pass them on. :-)

Ok, you’ve officially inspired me. There may have been times in my life when I’ve dreamed of taking steps…but this time I’m actually doing it! For better or worse, I’ve started a blog. It’s not perfect (I mean, I can’t get my profile picture to show my chin, no matter what I do), but it’s better than doing nothing, right?

If you want to come read my blog, it’s at http://thetigertrap.typepad.com. Hope to see you there!

Great advice. Advice I can definitely use.

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My Books (with Elizabeth Craft)

  • 'Bass Ackwards and Belly Up' and 'Footfree and Fancyloose' tell the story of four best friends who commit the ultimate suburban sin: putting off college to pursue their dreams.

    Publisher's Weekly said: "Full of romance and adventure, laughter and tears, the story is a reminder that veering from the straight and narrow road doesn't always lead to a dead end."

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    What is Starfish Envy??

    • L.A. 2009. I’m stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway, listening to Isabella Rosselini on NPR. Isabella, for some reason, mentions that starfish are one of those rare species that can reproduce asexually, and I realize that if I could do that, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a boyfriend/husband. I wouldn’t have to internet date! I wouldn't have to figure out if I want to/can/should have a baby/adopt a baby/child on my own. I wouldn't have to stress about things like FSH levels, or weigh my feelings on in vitro versus adoption. I would just have a baby. Thus began my starfish envy.
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