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Sunday, July 18, 2010

It could always be worse.....

It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale.........
A poor farmer is distressed by the fact that his house is too crowded and seeks the help of his Rabbi. The clever Rabbi tells him to bring a chicken into his home. The farmer questions the rabbi's advice but begrudgingly does as he is asked. Each time he goes to the rabbi, he tells him to bring in more and more livestock from his farm. Towards the end of the tale, the farmer tells the Rabbi he cannot take it anymore and he is going crazy. The Rabbi finally tells the farmer to release all of the animals from his home. The farmer does this and cannot believe how much better, less crowded, and peaceful his house is and thanks the Rabbi..........It could always be worse........

When I was in my early twenties, I had a really shitty car.... I nicknamed it shitty shitty bang bang. It would break down at least once a month. I was trying to go to school full time, worked three jobs, had no health insurance, and still had trouble paying my rent etc. My car broke down, again, and I had to take the bus to one of my jobs, again, which took about an hour and 45 minutes with about 3 different bus exchanges and while I was sitting at one of the stops I started thinking about how miserable I was and how horrible my situation was, and how everyone else my age had a running car, had parents who were able to help them pay for college etc. I looked up from my little pity party and I noticed a man who appeared to be homeless. I had to do a double take as I realized that this poor man, had no nose. Yes you heard me, no nose. He had clear tape over two holes where his nose was. I couldn't believe this poor mans plight. I thought that he must have burned his nose so bad from years of sleeping outdoors that maybe it burned off. The bus came and I had to get on. My heart sank. Here I was feeling soooooooo sorry for myself and my situation but hell, I still had my nose. I felt about a centimeter tall if that. I think I cried the rest of the way to work. All I kept telling everyone was that I had a nose. Everyone thought I was nuts but all I knew, was from that moment on, that you never have it as bad as you think, and that truly, it could always be worse.

The NICU has been a strange experience. There have been moments where it is very hard to maintain that "it could always be worse" attitude. It makes it even harder when your kid is one of the only ones who is still needing oxygen 6 weeks after his due date(most kiddos either go home by then or they only have some minor eating issues). My kiddo will be going home on oxygen there is no question about that. He may need it for a very long time. We will have to sequester ourselves for a year, maybe even 2. He will need a ton of therapy, no question about that either. And we still have no idea when he will come home and we don't have a ton of help nearby so to try and keep up this NICU lifestyle will be pretty grueling..... But, it could always be worse. I met a couple of preemie moms online whose babies are still on the vent because their babies lungs are actually worse than Thurston's. One mom has been unable to hold her daughter for almost 3 months could always be worse. Another preemie moms baby just passed away in her arms.... it could always be worse. A week after Thurston was born, I read about a mother who had a full term baby but caught a staff infection and who almost died, but they had to amputate her arms, and her reaction to it all" I am just so happy to be alive to be able to watch my children grow up" could always be worse.

The other day, I was talking to a very lovely nurse about a friend of mine who had a late term preemie, who never had to go to the nicu, but has had some lingering issues here and there with her child and how badly I felt for her. The nurse looked at me funny and said,"wow, how can you feel so bad for someone who has not gone through anywhere near the experience that you have gone through". I told her that I think an experience like this can either make you one of two ways, either more empathetic toward the plight of others, or you can think, "well my experience has been "worse" than anyone else's so their pain and sorrow doesn't matter as much as mine". I think this has made me much more empathetic. I told her it doesn't really matter if your child has been in the nicu for 1 day or 100, It is still painful any way you slice it. I just don't want to be that kind of person that thinks someone else's fears, anxieties, and sorrows are any less significant than mine, that life is some kind of "pain" and "hardship" competition to see who has suffered more, or turn into that parent who tells her kids "I had to trudge through 20 miles of snow uphill to get to school" etc........ To me that would not make me a good person, just a bitter one.

So I am ready to put down my proverbial violin, relish the fact that I am able to wrap my arms around my daughter, son and husband, touch my nose, look up at the roof over my head and think to myself, "it could always be worse".


  1. Wow...beautifully written, my darling daughter> I am so proud of you. You never told me the "nose" story, but it reminded me of the leper colony I used to visit with the church group in Okinawa, and how some of the people had no nose, or lips, or ears, or fingers, but they still held their palms together in prayer...

  2. well said - I was at a baby shower and some of the moms were talking about their "bad" birth stories. I didn't even chime in because I knew that I most definitely, without a doubt, had the "worst birth story" prize there, but I didn't think there was any benefit in re-living it. So, I let them continue to tell how hard their labor was, etc. (all full-term births)

  3. ha ha Michelle, Yea I think my sympathy only goes so far as to anyone that has experienced something tragic or very scary but a full term birth with hard labor hmmmmmmmmmmm(nothing life threatening or scary) I think my empathy stops there lol, you are too kind.

  4. Donna .... Absolutely loved this post. You are one mighty woman and mom. Thurston is one lucky guy, as are all of us to know such a beautiful woman! This made my day! Xoxo. Gale