I Had a High Risk Baby During a 16-Game Season; This is What I Know About Tension
Our football team played sixteen games last year.
Our third daughter was born between the thirteenth and fourteenth games.
The week of the sixteenth game went something like this: Monday, appointment with a neurologist. Tuesday, appointment with a neurosurgeon. Thursday, win state.
Five weeks after she was born, our alarms got us up before the crack of dawn—not for a game or a meet, but to drive our baby to the hospital for a life-saving surgery.
It was a doozy of a season. Let’s backtrack for a minute.
We got word that our baby’s brain might be atypical around the time school started. So for 2019, “football season” and “oh crap what is happening” were more synonymous than usual.
Due to the nature of my husband’s job, he just couldn’t be with me the way he wanted to. He hated it. He tried to find solutions, but rarely did one work out, between 80+ hour work weeks and a long commute to our specialists. He loves his job, and he hated sending me to appointments alone (that’s called tension, and it’s allowed).
Due to the nature of … well, my reproductive system, I had to be physically present, whether or not I liked it. Lots of appointments, tons of phone calls, plenty of exiting out of google searches before the results popped up, all mostly alone.
Some days were ugly. I have genuine faith in a big God, but faith doesn’t negate ugly. We had incredible support, but no amount of love negates ugly, either. Again, that’s called tension, and it’s allowed.
In my mind, I was the only one even thinking about researching the medical unknown, juggling the logistics and activities of a young and active family, and sitting in the car after appointments, composing “update” text messages to our family.
It was an eerie silence of crashing waves, a cacophony of turbulence—the unknown is like that.
We picked a day to induce our kiddo—our first induction out of three births, but also our first football season baby, so there’s that. Her birth went off without a hitch, culminating in a burst of labor that really completes the coming metaphor more appropriately than I will describe here.
You know the part of Frozen II where Anna makes a dam fall? Violent, uncertain, dangerous. Everything had to come crashing down for the water to reach where it’s supposed to be.
When the deafening silence of the preceding months was replaced with her little voice, we finally saw that what we had been telling ourselves was the truth: she is the right baby, at the right time.
Also, you know the part of the movie where Anna is NOT actually smushed by the giant rock-creature-dam-destroying things, and instead is pulled to safety by Hans, MY FAVORITE FEMINIST, who immediately heralds himself, “I’m here, what do you need?” That’s really familiar too.
Looking back, I see that my husband was there, in the nearest possible way each day.
We were both scared, and we pushed and pulled each other through the crashes, taking turns, accidentally injuring each other, and apologizing and trying again, until the water calmed.
I think it’s easy to make either villains or superheroes out of coaches, sometimes—they have such laser-intense focus for their teams and seasons. Resentment comes cheap, and I’ve bought into it.
The other end of the spectrum is real, too—when they take their eye off the ball and focus elsewhere—on family, a baby, the laundry—we’re tempted to stand up and CHEER because LOOK, MY HUSBAND SEES ME.
I submit that we apply a little more nuance than that.
Somewhere between resentment and alter-building is the truth: tension.
It’s good. Sometimes this gig can feel a little bit out of hand, and I am so thankful my husband has a job that fires him up. I can both expect him to choose a good attitude and appreciate him for choosing a good attitude at the end of a long day. I can ask him for help even when we’re both zapped, and I can be a good partner to him and offer my help.
At the end of the day, even if elements of the job feel a little extreme, we are partners. Full of tension. And that’s rich.
Rebecca Egger is a portrait photographer. She has self-published two books, Beasts Get Scared Too and Cast Iron Families, and has photographed zero famous people, but hundreds of folks who matter deeply to someone. She likes to fancy herself a runner and a reader, though she takes neither too seriously. Since she’s over 30 now, she’s gotten into both NPR and podcasts, and will likely start listening to audiobooks soon, as one does. She’s married to a coach, duh, and they have three daughters: Charlotte, Georgia, and a very healthy baby, Birdie.