Sunday, March 7, 2010

The glass half expected

I am in the business of expectations. Whether there are questions about when Emily will talk or when Joey will stop screaming every night at 8 PM, families want to know what to expect. OB-GYN's come before me in that business, finding themselves in the original pregnant pause, but pregnancy only lasts 9 months...unless, of course, it doesn't. For sure, pregnancy ends in a wondrous happening that changes a family forever, whether the infant be the first or 19th. Unless, of doesn't.

Pediatrics then takes this child and family by the hands and watches them for 18 years, 21 years, or longer if the bond is too tough to break. That time is a slow crystallization of expectations. What happens if something goes wrong?

How do people cope when something happens to their pregnancies or their children? We have an idea that our babies will be beautiful and healthy, born after a solid 9 months. We anticipate that our kids will be smart and athletic, that they won't belch the alphabet in public or run with scissors, that their friends won't be vampires, and that others will look at them and say, "What well-behaved kids."

Today I met a woman whose daughter is one of 5 people in the world with a certain disease combination. I met another woman whose son has been admitted to the hospital 40 times, and last year spent over half the year as an inpatient. Consider all of the families on our Medical Home Team whose kids have some really complicated problems, or the mother of the girl in our practice with a problem that no other human being has. How do these families cope?

I'd guess it's akin to dealing with labor or any other issue over which one has no control: take one step, then another, then another. The glass is neither half full nor empty, and is probably not even half expected: there is no glass.


  1. Sometimes it's not whether the glass is half full or empty. Often it's what you're pouring into your glass that matters most. Are you filling it with vinegar, or cool sweet tea? Are you drinking lemon juice, or lemonade? I am always encouraged by those who take difficult and sometimes incomprehensible situations, and FIND the joy, the laughter, and the sunshine whenever they can.


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