More Deep Thoughts

Spending too much time talking to my mom to delve into baby/kid issues the way they deserve. And talking to her is bringing up all sorts of stuff.

Today I’m wondering about the path not taken. I know we’re supposed to be living with no regrets, blah blah blah. But I’ve been thinking a lot over the last four or so years about what I could have done (in any number of situation) and what might have happened. It could have inspired despair (hey, ex-boyfriend became super-awesome and successful but still funny and kind!) but instead it’s been inspiring me toward a better decision-making process for the present.

So. The road not taken. Any thoughts? I’m looking for stuff about process and content, but if you want to ‘fess up to something you wish you had or hadn’t done, feel free to. To post anonymously, just fill in a fake email field and put in the URL field.

52 thoughts on “More Deep Thoughts”

  1. The hardest thing about thinking about the road not taken post-children is that but for the path you did choose, your children wouldn’t be in your life. And I can’t imagine anything worth trading these specific people for. That said FB is wonderful (or terrible) for imaginary travels down different paths with people from your past.I think the things I most regret, is not focusing on my education/career at an earlier age. I tended to put other people and their wants and needs before my own. I gave up a lot of different opportunities to stay in relationships that later ended anyway.

  2. I spend too much time wondering about the things I didn’t have power over in the first place. Now that we’ve adopted our son, I sometimes feel guilty for missing my babies that were miscarried or stillborn. If any of them had survived, we wouldn’t have our darling boy now. Yet, I still wish that each pregnancy had ended differently, but I also know I wouldn’t trade our boy for anything, round and round in a circle….

  3. Yes, I agree with mom2boys…any other path and my kids would not be with me, and they are the prize for the 7 years of my marriage. I would not do anything different because a world without them is not a world I’d want to live in.I think, rather than the path not taken, I’m thinking a lot these days about why I spent so many years trying to silence my instincts. Not just about the big things like why I decided to marry the man I married….but the smaller things I closed my eyes and my ears to, that resulted in me being where I am right now and are currently causing me problems.
    In the midst of this divorce, my hope is to still my mind and listen to my heart and have a will of steel. I know I’m going to have to compromise a lot, and that’s fine. But I’m no longer going to go along with what I know are wrong decisions. I have good instincts. I always have. I’m going to start listening to them again.

  4. Sounds like you are enjoying a little game of “what if.” My suggestion is that you use this as a way to determine desired outcomes now. Ask yourself “What if I said yes, and X happened? What if I said yes, and Y happened?” Then, try “What if I said no, and Z happened? What if I said no, and W happened?” This is a way to examine the paths and the choices before you. The key is to be really honest with yourself. And to not get so caught up in the decision-making process that you lose touch with your intuitive decision. I often find that these kinds of exercises are wasted on me b/c I’m a gut girl. I go through all the process and still end up making the decision that I wanted to make in the first place, right or wrong. And, don’t kid yourself, your gut — your intuition, can steer you down an imperfect path. But, as I like to remember: life is in the journey. Good luck!

  5. Regrets, I’ve had a few….Actually, I’ve had scads.
    But I frequently want 2 contradictory things at the same time, so it’s hardly surprising.
    I deeply regret agreeing to move from Miami to New England, where I have been freezing the past 21 years. If I had shown some backbone, I almost certainly could have prevailed.
    I regret leaving some jobs and schools rather than fighting to get what I wanted/needed there.
    I regret letting being a non-earning sahm so rob me of self-esteem and self-worth that I deprived myself of fun, rationed tampons, and took poor care of myself for years.
    I regret letting the fear of CPS darken all the years of child raising.
    I regret letting the fear of letting people down keep me from volunteering more.
    I regret saying no when I could have said yes.
    I regret all the things I didn’t apply for because I decided I wasn’t good enough.
    And many other things.
    That doesn’t mean that on the whole I’m unhappy or dis-satisfied with life, tho.

  6. Should have put off law school for a year, lived in NY solo for that year (working and/or learning “for fun”) before getting married, and then gone to a supposedly “lesser” school actually in the same state as my husband. The being married while living in separate states was not good for either my marriage or my law school education, and the tuition at the “better” school (vs scholarship at the other one) resulted in student loans that, while not crippling, I would be happier not dealing with.Wouldn’t have these exact children, though, as we would have waited another year before trying to have them. I don’t think I could trade them for anything.

  7. I think we all have an ex-boyfriend who became super-awesome and successful but still funny and kind! But think about it for us, too… aren’t we super-awesome and successful, funny and kind, in our own ways, too?The “what-if” game is such a universal thing and for so long I thought I was the only one who played it. It’s a hurtful and hard game to play (for me) and I find I’m more at peace if I just cleave to my kids and “stay in the moment.”

  8. I am at a point in my life where I am living in a place where I don’t particularly love, and I am not making any headway in my career or savings account. I fell like it is all worth it to be with the man I love, my sweet son, and this little baby arriving in 8 weeks.I could have made lots of different decisions, but the ones that brought me here with him are the best ones I ever made.
    I love him more today than the day I said I would marry him 11 years ago. I know I am very lucky, and I try not to take him for granted. He does the same.
    It’s all about choices, right? We could be living in a more fabulous place, but then I would have to work more and be away from my little ones.
    We could be somewhere warmer, but that would mean more distance from his family and the one set of grandparents who are actively involved in my son’s life.
    I didn’t expect this post to take me where is has, but it is making me very thankful for where we are, and that we have each other. Things aren’t perfect, but I guess it is being happy with what you have.
    Like Sinead O’Connor said, “I do not want what I haven’t got”.
    I’m trying not to second guess where I am and what I have done to bring me here. I am trying to be happy with the here and now.
    I wish you happiness, Moxie, and whatever it takes to bring you there.

  9. I sometimes regret not spending a semester or two abroad during college because I was afraid of being distanced from my boyfriend (now husband) who went to another school, and the general logistics of it all overwhelmed me at the time.I sometimes wonder “what if” I didn’t stay with my boyfriend (now husband) continually since we were 19 years old (now 35). Would I have ended up with someone else? Someone who doesn’t have depression/anxiety issues? Someone who is more of a go-getter and who wants more children? But maybe I would still be single… And, like everyone else has said, I would not have my wonderful, delightful boy in my life, and my life is pretty good overall, so I can’t truly regret anything, but I can always wonder “what if?”

  10. I play this game too much, but it only leads me down the path of unhappiness. Of course there’s an ex- (or two) that ended up smart, funny, successful and kind. That in a moment of idle wonder seem like they might have been a better match for me.I remind myself that to outsiders, my marriage appears easy, blissful, full of happy romance. Other people don’t see the struggles, the warts, and I’m sure those exes have warts too, that only their wives see. Have struggles that only happen with the person you are raising children.
    I tell myself that there is no ‘if’, only ‘is’. Dealing with what is, and what I actually have, helps me to find joy in my life. You see what you pay attention to, and I am trying harder to pay attention to the blessings, not the regrets.

  11. If going to therapy taught me one thing, it is that we do what we are able to do in the moment, using the tools we have in our toolbox, and so we can’t regret what we did or didn’t do at that specific moment in time. It’s not fair to look back and think about what you could have or should have done, because you did what you were capable of. We pick up new tools and coping techniques and attitudes as we go through life, and can apply them moving forward, but it’s not very productive to use them to try and re-imagine the past.I guess that’s a long way of saying “go with your gut.” I have found that going with my gut instinct in times of turmoil or uncertainty have ultimately led me to the place I need to go, even though at the time I thought I was completely nuts for making the decision I did.
    Case in point: I was offered a 2-year contract to work in London when I was 28, single, and enjoying the benefits of city life. I suprised myself and my employer by saying “no”, since I had just bought a condo in Seattle where I lived at the time, and was not in the mood to start from scratch making new acquaintances and friends when I had a wonderful community and support network already built up for myself. I couldn’t believe I turned it down, but it was absolutely the right decision–I ended up changing jobs, meeting my future husband, and really enjoying settling in to my first home.

  12. I agree with everyone else- going down the road of regrets leads me to unhappiness, so I try (not always successfully) to not do it.I am really curious, though, about the decision making process. My husband and I are in the process of making career, real estate, and childcare decisions. Everything feels connected to everything else, and we can’t make any one decision until the others are settled, and we feel quite stuck… up until we rush into a decision and then regret it. Anyone have any ideas of how to get out of this rut? Or just processes that work, especially for shared decision-making?

  13. I think this is exactly why I hate facebook. IMHO, it’s a big world for a reason.Still, though, it seems that “what if?” game is human nature: our way of continually bettering ourselves and learning from mistakes.

  14. To MamaBirdNYC, I would focus on make one decision — the thing that will have the most impact on everyone’s lives, then once that is settled you’ll have the framework for everything else. At the risk of (inadvertently) minimizing the important decisions you are making with such a trivial example, but I felt overwhelmed when remodeling the kitchen because there were a million choices (colors, material, style, cost) for every aspect (floors, counters, cabinets, hardware….). This floor meant that cabinet, but then that counter meant a different floor….rather than driving myself crazy, I picked one thing that was most important to me and everything else fell from that.

  15. I really only have one or two specific major regrets. Other than that I made decisions that made sense for the information I had at the time, and I don’t beat myself up for them in general:1. Telling him I was pregnant in the first place
    2. Putting his name on the birth certificate.
    Beyond those, sure, I regret not knowing what I know now, not being able to skip the process that got me to this point because of what that process has cost my completely blameless daughter. But that’s how life works, and I did the best I could at the time.
    I do of course have bigger questions about what would have happened if I’d done things differently at various points (what if I’d finished college instead of working with the band for 15 years? What if I’d started therapy earlier, or later?). Then there are the parts of life that I had no control over: What if my mom hadn’t had a stroke when I was 23 and died when I was 29? But all this is more in the line of curious musing than actual regrets, because the answers are too hugely unpredictable to imagine.
    In general it is much healthier and more useful to look around NOW and ask what my goals and dreams are and what is the next right thing to get there.

  16. @MamaBirdNYC – my husband and I are in the exact same place and what really helped us was to both sit down and write down a picture of our ideal life five years from now. There were differences in our decisions but they were also suprisingly similar.Once you have the picture in your head of what you want your life to look iike in five years, you can work backwards and figure out what steps you need to take to get there.
    My husband and I recently went through this excercise and both came away with a really great plan and a renewed sense of purpose for our life, our careers, our family planning etc.

  17. @blue – Me too. I’m in touch with the people I WANT to be in touch with, for a reason.I have a whole stretch of life I regret, but like everybody else, if I had done it differently, I might not have ended up with the husband and children I have now, and I have no desire to change that.
    The way I plan to address my regrets in the future is to be very clear with my children about what I see as my own mistakes. Then they’ll just make totally different ones! Lucky them! My parents were very live-and-let-live during my young adulthood, so I feel like I could have avoided some of my regrets if they had been more clear with me about weather or not they thought my behavior was a good idea.
    I plan to be more clear about what I think is mistaken behavior with my own kids, but not to force them to do one thing or another. I’ll just want them to know what I think, since I felt like I often didn’t get a clear answer like that from my own parents.

  18. This thread reminds me of some research I saw summarized recently, that said they way to married couples happier with their spouses was to have them think about decisions they could have made that would have meant they never met their spouse.I don’t tend to spend a lot of time regretting past decisions- I have no idea why. I suspect it is a personality trait thing and not something I control.
    I have a favorite quote, from my college physics prof (he claimed it was a Brazilian proverb- I’ve never been able to confirm that):
    “Everything always works out well in the end. If things are not going well, it is not the end yet.”
    That quote helps me through the rough spots. Obviously, there are many very bad things that the quote wouldn’t really cover. But I’ve been lucky so far, and haven’t had those sorts of things happen. I am very grateful for that luck- and while I don’t obsess about past decisions, I can get into morbid ruts worrying about things that could go wrong.
    @MamaBirdNYC- when I have tough decisions to make, I write down the pluses and minuses of all the options. Then I let that stew and end up making the decision from my gut, anyway! I like to think that my gut decision is informed by the analysis I did, but I can’t prove that. Hubby and I do something similar for joint decisions. Actually, we usually do the analysis and make the decision over a beer or two. The beer really helps.

  19. what-if? Isn’t that what Facebook (with all your old friends) is for?Like the college friends who DIDN’T get married and are administering elections in Afghanistan?
    Or the high school friends who went to South America and found themselves and are now fighting urban blight?
    (And, of course, the ones who stayed in the rinky-dink town and are beer-swilling pig farmers) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. My husband of 20 years (yes! I said 20 years) used to repeat this mantra to me: “Be here now.”There are so many paths in life that one can take it can be very difficult to not second guess the choices you make in life. When I start to regret not following my chosen career path because it may have dissolved my marriage, I try to think of the negatives that would have come with my “what if” path and not just think of my rose-colored vision of all the glories of would have attained from said path. In retrospect, that path would most likely have been short-lived and I may have turned into a jaded, bitter person.
    When I wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to prevent the car accident that killed my best friend (I was just a passenger and not in control of the situation), I have to realize that she may have died even if I wasn’t there. That accident was the end of her journey in this life and the beginning of a new one in my life which culminated in meeting my soul mate and future husband.
    We have no way of knowing where I our lives would have ended up had we made other decisions. All we can do is take the good and the not-so-good that is our lives and move forward from there. I have always believed that every decision we make for ill or for good is preparing us for all that we will encounter later.
    It’s not always easy when I think of things that I’ve given up or people I’ve lost in life, but then I remember all of the things that I have gained: a pretty decent life filled with those I love and that love me and the opportunity to be the person I am. I just try to remember what my wise husband has always said, “Be here now.”

  21. Interesting discussion and very pertinent for me as I feel that a massive opportunity to ‘do over’ a period of my life has just come up. Basically a project that was put on the back burner many years ago has come round again, and would be dream fulfilment and the start of a possible new career. However, it would mean working with the biggest bully I have ever met, a devious, aggressive and intimidating man who made my life absolute hell for several years about 5 years ago. I’ve decided to go ahead with the project, as I have much more confidence now and I think (I hope!) I have the life skills to deal with him. I’m also reminding myself I can walk away at any time and that the project is now 1% of my life, rather than the job that was 60-80% of my life 5 years ago.With big decisions, I definitely go with my gut, but also do the pro’s and con’s list as well. The hard part is sometimes finding the mental peace to hear what my gut is saying, but the more you go with your instincts the clearer that inner voice is. I also found practising tai chi really woke up my inner voice. The book ‘The Artist’s Way’ was also very helpful.
    I also think it’s important to remember that often both options (ie stay where you are or move house)are good and that if you make a decision and it’s not right, you can change your mind.
    Funnily, I have no old boyfriend regrets – the old boyfriends were all unsatisfactory and it is the husband who is cute, funny and the one I am so glad I didn’t let get away. When I met him, I had just made the decision to move countries to get on with my life. I never got to move home, but I gained a wonderful husband and my two gorgeous girls.

  22. The short story “The Boy Not Taken” by Jennifer Weiner is about this kind of thing.I cannot be the only person who signed up for Facebook just to stalk, errr, view photos of an old flame anonymously. You know, as long as I signed up just so I could be an AskMoxie Facebook friend anyway.
    I just make decisions. Usually rationally by thinking about the pluses and minuses and whether the decision is going to get me closer to my goal.
    I do regret not taking college more seriously, but how would taking it more seriously change where I am right now? It probably wouldn’t change anything. Or it would change everything (and not necessarily for the better). If I had taken it more seriously, I might have been drafted in the PhD program and then instead of working right out of college, I would have gone to grad school. I wouldn’t have bought my first house at 22 or met my husband that year or moved away and saved money. Right now, I’d probably be working in an R&D lab, married to someone else and just now embarking on my infertility roller coaster (and I’d be older while doing it with lower success rates). Or, I would have been drafted into the PhD program and burned out after 3 years of living on stipend and gone off to do exactly what I should have done in the first place. Or something else. It’s totally unknowable, but thinking about it now, I don’t see how taking my studies any more seriously would have made a positive impact on my life now.

  23. this is totally me right now.i’m in a loveless, sexless marriage but with two wonderful little boys. i would not change getting married because i cannot imagine living without my children. you are spot on regarding that, moxie.
    my biggest regret:
    i am not married to the love of my life, and i’m chewing through that pain at the present.
    my partner and i barely speak to one another. we have no sexual attraction. we sleep in different rooms.
    but we are good friends, and we are good parents.
    but i want the love of my life back, the man i gave up 20 years ago.
    i am stuck and have no idea how to get unstuck. i’ll be reading through the comments voraciously.
    i have hope that i’ll make a good decision in the end, but i don’t have courage right now…..
    thank you cloud for that lovely proverb. i’ve written it down on a post-it and am keeping it on my computer screen.

  24. I’m not so good at being here now, but I try.However, I’m good at backing up my truck on quick followup assessment, and jumping the curb to the alternate path when I’ve gone a direction that feels wrong. Changing careers, say, is not a big deal with us – not that we hop from one to the next, but if it calls, we talk it out, think it out, check it out, and then go for it.
    Maybe the biggest what-if I’ve ever explored is the one-kid or no-kids (vs reality of four kids). We’d have so much more money. More time. Less cluttered house. Eh. Love what we’ve got, as hard as it can be some days. Try to make good decisions with what we have, and the more we practice that, the better we get at it.
    I also practice making amends as quickly as possible, too (balanced against rushing it). I don’t always manage it, but when I do, it really works – ruminating on the alternatives is a quick trip to depression for me (there was a study on that – rumination I think maxes value at about an hour, after that moving to problem-solving is more effective… I’d have to look up the study, to be sure, but for me, an hour is definitely the max).
    It sounds like what you’re talking about is using the what-if to explore your values, choices, options, dreams, goals, etc. It is a good thing to do from where you are – not so much in terms of ‘better’ as ‘more true to me’ and ‘more effective for what I actually want’. Interestingly, those times I have discussed that (a ways back) were also with my mom. One of the things she used to remind me was that we never get to run the alternate experiment. We can’t actually, effectively compare what might have been to what is. The other might have been as bad or worse, as good or better, and there is no actual way to know. Any random chance could have ruined a good thing, or changed a bad for the better – so, once I knew what was of value to me, I would then just focus on this path, here in front of me.
    Plus, I spent so many years healing and healing and working on healing that once I had the chance to just walk out into my life and GO, I didn’t look back. I let the path unfold as we go, right here under my feet. I want to do it well, but I spend more energy looking at the next choice than I do at the one already made. Part of that is also having dealt with the health issues with the kids, the regrets and wishing otherwise for that were huge. At this point, we’re over that hump, and are now into ‘yeah, it’d be great if they came up with a pill for this, but for now, we’re fine, life’s good, focus on what’s in front of us (like school, or sibling issues, or whatever).’
    Maybe too many crises weathered makes a difference?

  25. Oooh, eerie. I just posted about this same thing, sort of. More about the ‘unspeakable’ regrets – paths we’re not supposed to wonder about…

  26. My “what if” thoughts tend to be about the future rather than about the past. ‘What if I lost my husband and my kids?’At first I scared myself with the frequency and intensity with which I was thinking about this question, but I’ve now decided to relax into it.
    I think that it is a way of (re)discovering myself, and my needs and wants.
    For instance, I find that children remain part of my life in some way or another in these ‘what if’ scenarios. This is an enormous realization, as having children was never something I particularly wanted when I was younger. I usually have some kind of minimal living and uncluttered empty space. Yup, dealing with clutter is a huge difference in my marriage and coping with the ‘stuff’ connected with children is a new skill we need to develop. etc. etc.
    It is also a way of revisiting the nightmare as you mentioned in a previous post. A way of me trying to cope with the fears that come with love.

  27. My “what if” is about a boy. I’ve been with my husband for 14 years. But during the 1st and 2nd year of our relationship, I was also on again/off again with another guy. I love the life I have today, and really, I know I took the right path. But I probably wonder about that guy at least once a month–what would my life be like if we had ended up together? Where would we live, would I have babies, would I be happy? I need to figure out a way to create some closure and stop wondering about (and googling) him.

  28. I always ask myself, ‘If I don’t (insert possibility here)… will I look back someday and wish I would have taken the opportunity while I had the chance?’ So far, that has opened me up to adventures most people don’t take the risk to seek out. Sure, I regret things like saying something hurtful and wishing I could take it back, or losing my temper and frightening my children… but I think as long as I own the decision I’m making and go I with my eyes open (or as anotherredhead says, if I’m There Then), I have so far not regretted a single one.

  29. Raia, I feel for you. I ask the same questions now that I have a child–she wouldn’t be here if our other babies had survived. Sometimes I offer a little prayer of gratitude to our stillborn girl, as though she gave us the chance to have our daughter. And I’m not at all spiritual, sadly, but I still do this. It’s haunting, the whole prospect, thinking that the world revolves around our choices AND the whims of the universe. I bristle at the expression “Everything happens for a reason.” We don’t suffer loss or great pain for a “reason.” But I do believe that everything can and does shape us, and the “now” that we have is all there is, really. I sound far more zen than I feel, here . . .On a funnier note, my ex-boyfriend turns out to be a portly pornographer in the Czech republic. Yes, Facebook confirmed it. My husband is a fantastic person, so I have no what-ifs in that department.

  30. @Julie: what you write resonates with me. After 9 years together, now a 9 month old and my spouse wants divorce. I find myself wondering why I didn’t listen harder to my own heart. For me it was hard to look past what my spouse said (i.e. let’s get married, let’s buy a house, let’s have a baby) and focus instead on what my heart was saying (why isn’t this more passionate, why not more loving, why do I do everything). It is strange to think that if I had listened to my own heart more, maybe I would have been the one to leave. I regret that we are now tied together forever for our son. (Unlike others, because we are a same-sex couple, I can’t tell myself that if I had left I could never have had my son.) I too hope to listen hard to my own heart now, and to find the nerves of steel you describe.

  31. Love it! No time to read all the posts.One person mentioned not focusing on education/career earlier. If I had done this I would have felt that there was more time to travel with my teaching degree before settling down to a secure, full time job. I wouldn’t have been married and owned a house while I was still in University, therefore freer to take overseas teaching opportunities.
    Like the first poster said, it’s hard to play the what if game post kids, as I wouldn’t give E up for the world!!

  32. @Hedra, I’m not sure she cites the research you mention, but that thing about rumination is basically the entire point of the book Women Who Think Too Much by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. I read it after a break-up put me into a mild, 10-month depression, and while it was extremely hard to change the patterns, it helped just to know they existed and to recognize that I was indeed thinking too much.I am extremely happy where I am right now, but the other day I actually caught myself missing my ex-boyfriend, which was odd. I don’t often think about the “path not taken” with him because I really didn’t have a choice in the matter, and as far as I know, he’s still on a path going nowhere. But he was still a good person, and since we didn’t make it past the first five months, I associate him very strongly with the actual process of falling in love, rather than any of the deeper, more comfortable (and ultimately, I think, valuable) aspects of a relationship. For that reason, I think, the story still feels “unfinished” with him, even though I wouldn’t trade my husband for anything and can’t imagine the ex could actually make me happy if I did.
    On the flip side, I often wish I hadn’t taken a certain path with the *other* serious relationship I had before my husband, but think I likely wouldn’t have met my husband if I hadn’t (although it’s possible I would have met him sooner, sigh). I’ve actually avoided making certain people Facebook friends because of this ex’s connection to them, since the only thing that would make me happy would be to see his status updated as “Sweeping trash up from the gutter.” Whatever else he’s up to, I’d rather NOT know.

  33. What if I had not been attacked in college?What if I had been able to face my attacker and finish my degree instead of dropping school, dropping the Navy and hiding in a shelter of over 350 pounds in weight?
    What if I hadn’t had to re-start from scratch, go back to university, fight for my first degree and take on the system that failed me 15 years ago?
    That is an ugly road, I “what if-ed” for years and to tears, but kept on working towards new goals..I won’t lie and say that jealousy did/does not reel its ugly head every once in a while, especially when I was back at school and my old classmates were having nice careers, homes, building families and so on…However, I did work it through, I was lucky enough to marry my best friend who could still remember the girl pre-attack and stuck it out with me as we ploughed on through our debts and my education costs…And here we are now, we’ve had our kids much later than everyone around us, but we are living out a dream, living overseas with two little kidlets, and extremely solid in our relationship (especially having survived the insane ups and downs that kind of attack can have on a person and all her close relations)…
    I certainly wish none of that had ever happened, but it’s made me who I am today and hopefully I’ll be able to pass on some tidbits of wisdom to my kids ;), hopefully…And, ss for the weight, well it’s still coming off on jogging mile at a time…
    I think like someone said, you can “what if” yourself to death, but ultimately, I do believe that if one door closes, another one opens up somewhere else…Case in point, I thought I’d be in Navy sailing and seeing the world, well I’m not in the Navy, but I am seeing the world!

  34. I almost killed my baby.I had a homebirth with a Certified Professional Midwife. This is legal in my state.
    My midwife came to me very well-recommended. I had some reservations about her, but I let my husband and friends talk me out of them, time and again. My gut said, “this midwife is not good enough.” But I trusted her with the birth anyway. My gut said, “give birth in a hospital.” But I didn’t.
    And then something really bad happened. I had the baby just fine, but he had lung problems that the midwife utterly, totally, completely failed to recognize. (Related to the meconium he inhaled, which the midwife KNEW was there, she mentioned it to me, but she blew it off as irrelevant.) We didn’t realize how sick he was until he turned blue and we had to call 911 the day after he was born. He spent a month in the hospital, and very literally almost died while he was there.
    The problem still may have happened if he was born in the hospital, but they would have recognized it and come to his aid much, much sooner. That he got sick at all was not caused by the homebirth. That he almost died – that was caused by the homebirth.
    He’s healthy now, thankfully. He is the happiest, sweetest baby in the world. But before we got here, my decision to homebirth with an incompetent midwife – despite my instincts screaming at me, DON’T DO THIS!!!! – almost killed this wonderful little boy.
    How do you live with that, as a mom? It’s hell. Yeah, I know. It wasn’t totally my fault. The midwife was an idiot. Fine. Please spare me the “don’t blame yourself.” But I have some responsibility in this, too. I chose to trust her even when a not-small part of me knew better. It is my job to look out for my baby, and I failed. I was a VBAC, too (though the meconium problem was not at all related to my previous cesarean). I really should have been in the hospital, and I knew it.
    You know what, though? Even though I fucked up in almost the worst way a mother can fuck up, it has taught me, in a way that nothing else could have, to listen to my gut.

  35. @silly – I’m so sorry you had that experience. How terrifying. I won’t patronize you with the “don’t blame yourself” but I will say that we all deal with some very powerful signals to ignore our intuition on a daily basis. Especially women. Especially when it comes to sparing other people’s feelings or letting them down. my lesson in that came when I was hanging with my son in front of my house and an older woman stopped to talk to me. I was chatting with her and watching my son play. We were right near the street. There were several times when I felt like I should blow her off and pay closer attention to him but I didn’t want to be rude so I convinced myself that he was fine. He was getting so good at obeying the “only on the sidewalk” rule etc. I had a gut feeling the whole time that I should stop talking to her and focus on him, be right next to him, but I didn’t. Well wouldn’t you know it, he did bolt into the street. and there was a car coming. Thank god it was on the other side of the street and he missed being hit by 2-3 feet. My heart is still in my throat as I think about it. I will never ignore that type of gut feeling again either though.

  36. I got married really young, so I have some what-ifs there: I never really dated anyone else, so of course I wonder…. And we’ve had some choices to make regarding my career (I’m an academic and have had to go where the jobs are, or else decide to give it up altogether.) But none of this makes me sad. I can wonder about that other life, and even want it, without hating the life I have now. I love my family and my job, however hard it’s been at times.I relate this question to the way my daughter may feel one day about her adoption. She may look at the path that didn’t get chosen for her (living in her birth culture or with her birth parents) and wonder about it or even desperately want it. But that doesn’t mean she won’t love the life that did get chosen for her.

  37. Hmm…. Have talked about this very topic at length with several good friends recently & so I’m going to generalize A LOT in order to share our shared conclusions that prioritizing travel/adventure, education, and – above all else- never staying too long (over a year) in any relationship/friendship you harbor ANY real doubts about are the touchstones to a well-lived youth & a future with few regrets. Oh, and especially this one: be very careful if you find yourself feeling pressure to make any permanent life decisions about marriage & family before the age of 25, because according to many “experts” we’re not fully psychologically mature yet and still have so many wonderful life transitions yet to make.Living in the now is not an easy thing to do. BTW, I also hate Facebook because ITA with the previous PP who said there’s a reason they’re not in touch with certain folks…

  38. I thought I would post a little different approach to this topic and throw this out to see if it helps anyone. If not, I don’t mean to offend in any way (of course).There’s a song sung by Tim McGraw called “Red Rag Top” and, while I consider the rest to be unremarkable, I’ve always loved the line:
    “There’s no such thing as what might have been…That’s a waste of time…(It will) Drive you out of your mind”
    I had never really thought about it that way before – that there truly is no “what might have been”. If you want to examine your life (where paths not taken may have traveled) and you sense an area you would like to get to or change, you have to take the steps from where you are today. Right now. Not from your past because that’s impossible.
    So, I think it’s good to be constantly evaluating to see where you want to get to or accomplish and what you need to do in order to make that happen, but try not to get tied up in the past. Use it as a tool to help you get what you currently want or what you want to have in your future. And figure out how to take that first step from where you’re currently standing.

  39. I have a type of OCD where I have intrusive thoughts followed by hours and hours of rumination. At least I did, as it is now under control through cognitive therapy. I have suffered from it since I was around 12 and wasted so much of my life thinking and anylising my thoughts wondering if they were real, therefore dangerous or simply just weird but harmless.Despite, or maybe due to my condition, I have never really stood still for very long. I graduated from university, left home and travelled the world, I sowed some wild oats as they say, and did some crazy things, a lot of the time ruminating and turning over thoughts in my head till I discovered with the birth of my first child the name of and treatment for this condition.
    Although I think I have had a wonderful and exciting life, I do wonder how I would have turned out if my condition had been diagnosed earlier. Perhaps I wouldn’t have needed to run, and settled down a little closer to family and friends. I might have filled my time doing some good, rather than lying on my bed doing nothing but analysing my thoughts.
    One thing is for sure, I would never have met the man who would eventually become my husband and best friend and had two wonderful children. I guess there is nothing to regret.

  40. My biggest regret is not asking more questions after a m/c at 12 weeks (chromosomally normal), instead submitting to a lot of fertility testing I now believe was unnecessary. I was 36 at the time. Two years later we got brave, tried again, and had another m/c at 12 weeks. Now, at 40, we are off the bus with one wonderful 5-y-o born before all this happened. I’ll always wonder about the second child I tried to have and what life would be like if she were here, and what would have happened if I hadn’t spent over a year getting all that testing done.Moral of the story: listen to your instincts about doctors. If you’re not sure about what you’re hearing or who’s saying it, get a second opinion!

  41. It’s so funny that you’re posting this question now. I have been secretly and not-so-secretly mourning the loss of an ex-boyfriend from 10+ years ago. He is my biggest “what if?” Part of me feels like he is the embodiment of what my life could have been like had I made the right choices at the right time – we’d be together and everything wouldn’t feel like one big compromise.So – an old friend forwarded me a link to CNBC this morning and there he was, a talking head discussing the current economic crisis with Larry Kudlow. And he’s still little-boy cute, he still pushes up his glasses when he’s frustrated, and he still talks with an alluring combo of kindness and arrogance. But the beautiful, gorgeous, life-sustaining part of watching him living his dream was that I was really happy for him but didn’t want to be with him. I have wondered for YEARS now what it would be like to see him – would my heart jump out of my chest, would I see the alternate universe in which he’s married to me and we’re living that political, high-powered life together?? Turns out, no. It was so, so fascinating to watch that video. It was really soothing to not feel that heart longing that I feel when I think about him and who he was and who I was circa 1997.
    Thanks for listening. ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. My experience on Facebook has been different from PPs. My high school sweetheart, the one about whom I had the most “what-if” thoughts, was and is gorgeous, brilliant, funny, and sweet. What if what if what if?Well, he’s still the same spontaneous, obnoxious, everything’s-a-joke, live-it-up guy he was 25 years ago (with some notable exceptions). He’s never married, is a ski bum, takes off to travel on a whim, and is generally irresponsible — the same stuff that led to our breakup decades ago.
    Being married to him would have *sucked*. So I quite happily remain friends with him in FB and have let go that little fantasy.
    The guy before the guy I married has a large digital footprint. He’s smart and articulate and charming and we always had the best morning-after conversations. He also seems shorter, balder, and less attractive every time I see his picture. :shrug:
    I think what-ifs are natural and, within limits, healthy. They’re an opportunity to think about my decision-making process and to consider whether I’m giving appropriate attention to the choices I face now.

  43. I have plenty of those what-ifs… I left jobs for other jobs I thought would lead me in a good direction but sent me in the wrong direction instead.The biggest regret in my life though is a girl I let slip away… I think she was ready for babies, but I wasn’t catching all the clues and she wouldn’t talk about it ๐Ÿ™
    Had I caught the hints, I would have gladly followed down that path, but instead she moved away abruptly to take a job with her brother halfway across the world.

  44. Continuous as the stars that shineAnd twinkle on the Milky way,
    They stretchโ€™d in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

  45. I started it the night before, liked it well enough to want to finish it, but didn’t get so hooked that I needed to stay up late to read the whole thing. It was when I picked it up the next morning that I ran into trouble — that was when I hit the 100-page mark, and suddenly a book about a girl who’s desperate for her father’s love and approval yet very cautious about guys partly because of her father’s past behavior turned into a sisterly-bonding-through-burglary-with-exploration-into-family-history-and-romantic-roadtrip story. **-**-*

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