They say that when you’re faced with a situation that scares you, you choose either fight or flight. I’m sure this is true for some people out there. Daniel, for instance. Don’t scare him. He will fight you. And he has a beard.
But I do neither. I add my own F-word in there: freeze.
Once my mom and I were out walking in the neighborhood. We passed a house that seemed innocent enough at first. Then we heard a rustle, a bark, and, weirdly, the sound of something being dragged across concrete. We looked up just in time to see the world’s largest dog, barking at us and running right for us.
Oh, and the dragging sound? He had been chained to a BRICK WALL, pulled the brick out, and was now trailing it behind him like some bizarre doggy fashion trend.
I could have run. I could have braced myself for a fight. What did I do? I grabbed my mom’s arm and hung on as hard as I could while Cujo ran at us. I swear he was holding a knife in his paw and wearing an “I Heart The Taliban” t-shirt. And I just stood there, staring at him and trying to use my mind control to convince him that we were not tasty.
My mom also stood there, except she shouted incomprehensible things at the dog, like “Guh! Gahhh! Gruuuuurrrrg!!” At least I come by my issues honestly.
We weren’t eaten that day. But we did make my dad walk with us the next day in case the dog was out again. You might be wondering why we didn’t walk down a different street. Lets just say we’re not known for our tactical genius.
Knowing that I don’t have the gumption to fight through a problem or the good sense to run from it like a chicken, I used to worry about what would happen when I had kids. What would happen if little Bambi or Enrique fell off the monkey bars and needed help? Would I just stand there, waiting for my mom to walk by and shout gibberish until someone got help?
I got the answer to this question sooner than I thought I would. The very first time I saw Joshua stop breathing and watched his heart rate fall, I just stood there. I didn’t call for help. I didn’t touch him. I just watched. Luckily, the nurse is not a freezer and she jumped in there to help.
The other day, I was holding Josh and checking Facebook at the same time. I heard the alarm go off, saw his heart rate drop, rubbed his back until it went back up…and went back to Facebook. It was like I had been interrupted by a mildly interesting show, decided it was boring, and went about my business. It wasn’t until I was telling Daniel about it that I’d even realized what I’d done.
So I guess for all the ridiculous shenanigans the NICU has put me through, it has also changed me for the better. I have more confidence. I’m not so scared all the time. I’m downright bold every once in a while. I don’t have to freeze. I can fight. And, most importantly, I can fight while checking Facebook.
Maybe I’m stronger than I thought.