I don't enjoy tests. I developed irritable bowel syndrome in high school...at the exact time that I was introduced to exams. I would be clutching my stomach in agony in a gym filled with my peers counting down the minutes of the first mandatory hour one MUST stay seated and answer as many answers as my distracted short term memory could spew out before the teacher with angel wings would appear at the podium and announce those who were finished could put up their hands to have their exams taken. Regardless of the amount of unanswered boxes remaining on my exams I had to take this opportunity. I didn't raise my hand, I simply walked out as quickly as I could; not out of simple rebellion, which in those days was reason enough to do most things unexpected, but simply to relieve the aching pressure on my cramping abdomen.
University was no better. I graduated a year early, accepting a general degree rather then an honors because I Could. Not. Write. Another. Exam. I selected courses that had less than 50% riding on the final exam since I wouldn't pass it. I found the balance however in keeping my marks in the 90's through the semester and then accepting a 70% overall when my hard work and nervous stomach were all averaged out.
It boils down to pressure. I can do things on my own accord. I cannot do something because someone told me to or I feel as though I have to. I rarely make long term commitments of a volunteer nature not because this doesn't interest me greatly but because they usually come with a "time commitment". I have trouble with the pressure of a commitment. An exam epitomized pressure and commitment.
My experience shows how misleading tests results are anyhow. I learned a great deal from many courses I took in high school and university however the true test of learning is taking these new found concepts, manipulating them into a way that suits ones understanding, influencing a preexisting ideology and applying said new concept in life. I could write about it, I could talk about it but please don't have me sit in a sweaty gymnasium in silence with the pressure of nervous energy cruising my intestinal tract while I am timed in the arbitrary facts I memorized 24 hours prior to arrival and will disregard in a shorter time following.
The last exam in university I ever wrote was the most relieving days of my life. I would never take another test again!
When I was pregnant with Ben the Doctor again began dropping the dreaded "t" word. My irritable bowel syndrome miraculously got left behind with my low test scores the day I walked out of my final exam. I could feel the familiar rumblings return. With a deep breath I told him "We will not be taking any tests". I did not have a good history with tests. I had surrendered to the fact that my test scores would likely always remain in the low range and this was not a result I wished to see in any capacity when it affected my child.
Jon and I did have a conversation regarding tests one can have done in the first trimester. They look for chromosomal abnormalities and physical malformations. An amniocentesis can further test for these markers. We decided in the same breath that once we committed to procreation we committed to the acceptance of the child given to us. We talked about the possibility of many issues and in the end remained confident that whatever baby we had would be perfectly...ours.
When presented with these same tests again this time our mindset had not changed and we knew now that we were capable of dealing with the stresses of parenthood and some surprises along the way. We also knew it was the best thing that could have happened to us. We were not worried. Until my ten week ultrasound. This was more of an "observation" to calculate gestation dates, this was not a test. It did show that the baby had indications of a "herniated gut". The midwife explained that the worse case scenario consisted of the growth of internal abdominal organs on the outside of the body. I would be transferred to specialized care, given a c-section at 36-38 weeks and the baby would have surgery shortly thereafter.
I felt sick.
I had been tricked into a test- these were results...and they were not good.
With a second and then a third (and forth...) opinion we were assured that there was nothing I did to cause this and there was nothing I could do to fix it. Stress though only would compound any existing problem. My stomach cramped.
I thought of this baby and the tough start he could face. I thought of the helplessness that has become the worst part about Motherhood. I found faith though that this baby was growing into exactly the person he was suppose to be. He was growing in the way that he was meant to and was given to us because we were equip ed to be his parents, whatever that entailed. I was scared but more then that I was confident. It was as it should be.
At 20 weeks we saw a healthy baby boy on the ultrasound screen, everything where it should be. There would be no transfer. No specialist. No c-section. No surgery. I felt like in a way I had passed this test; of faith, of unconditional love, of parenthood.
If I could talk to my seventeen year old self I would wish to reassure her that high school bears no resemblance to real life. It does little to prepare one for what is to come. Enjoy the tests of high school that call for pencils, erasers, bells and time limits. The tests of life to come are less controlled. They come with no manual, no study time and easy out no matter how sick they make you. These are the tests that matter in the end.
I am happy to finally have a few under my belt with a passing grade.