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Just a little patience

When I was a high school senior, the power ballad “Patience” came to represent the week of memories my friends and I shared on spring break.

This was 1990, and Guns N’ Roses was huge.

The song is more about failed relationships and less about a bunch of high school seniors sun bathing in Daytona Beach. Most of us didn’t know much about adult relationships or truly being alone, but the song resonated with our group. We called it our own, latching on to the melancholy lyrics about shedding tears because we would be missing each other. We would soon head off to college, some of us growing apart.

But like the lyrics say, there would be no doubt we would be in each other’s hearts.

Every time I hear “Patience” on the radio, memories of my teenage youth come flooding back. I think about my close friend Tim, a kind and sweet football player-bear kind-of-guy we nicknamed Wally. He was calm, caring and funny. He died when we were in college and 21 — we are all still so young — and the memory of his laughter always makes me smile.

Wally was one of the most patient people I’ve ever known.

By definition, patience is a state of endurance under difficult circumstances. The dictionary refers to it as a character trait referring to being steadfast. In religion and throughout history, patience is a virtue referenced in proverbs. One I have found to hold considerable meaning for me in the last week is a French proverb: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” I also like, “Patience is the companion of wisdom,” from St. Augustine.

I’m hoping the latter is true as I become a mother.

Lately I’m reclaiming that old Guns N’ Roses ballad from my youth as a theme song for my five-week hospital stay on bed rest. Along with hope, patience is a virtue I’m swaddling like a newborn as I follow the doctor’s orders, which just this morning, verbatim, were to “just stay pregnant.”

I’m on it.

I like to think I’m a patient person. I try my best to remain calm and breathe in stressful situations. Sure, deadlines put me on edge. But in journalism, they are an everyday occupational hazard, so I do what I can. I’ve never had road rage. If I do lose my temper, I hear I’m more comical than threatening.

I credit living in Carbondale — one of the most laid-back places on the planet — for this trait.

My best friend Megan, a nurse by profession, says I was as calm as she’s ever seen me in our 20-year friendship during my emergency introduction to prenatal hospital care last week. The other day, one of my nurses thanked me for taking the insertion of a new IV needle into my other arm like a champ. As much as the size of that needle gives me the heebie jeebies, the scientific term for the willies, I know letting my emotions get to me won’t do anyone any good. Whenever being poked or prodded — a common occurrence during extended stays in the hospital — I try to relax and think about drinking a fruity cocktail on a beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Or playing with my puppy, who is spending quality time with her grandparents these days. She probably wonders what happened to me.

I’m hoping we can FaceTime soon.

What helps me remain calm in adversity is the reality I heard all the time before I was ever pregnant or close to becoming a mother. That once a child is involved, I would no longer think about myself. That my child’s well being would be placed well before my own, for the rest of my life. Of course there are selfish people out there who don’t always change just because they become a parent. I am definitely not that kind of person. I would give and do anything for this baby. A long hospital stay, a little IV needle or medicine that makes me sick is nothing to me compared to his health and safety.

I even said, “I never knew I could love someone I’ve never even met” the other day.

I like this quote from actress Jessica Lange, whom I share a birthday with on April 20. She said, “The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”

I’m already there, Jessica.

April E. Clark would like to thank all the doctors and nurses assigned to her care, and friends and family who have visited the hospital and reached out with encouraging words and support. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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