Tackling the to-do list

I've often joked that as a journalist, I've been paid to procrastinate.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of extremely talented, organized journalists who get their interviews done early, compile their notes and outlines in advance, and get their articles written well before their editor comes calling for them.

I, however, am not one of them.

My favorite part of the writing process has always been the gathering stage: finding the right sources, hearing their stories, immersing myself in their environment, learning all the little details that make them them. 

Writing, that's another story, and it's something I always save until the last possible second. I dread, perhaps even fear, that I won't know what to say, that I won't be able to make my vision of what the article should look like a reality, that I'll be disappointed.

So I put it off until right before the deadline.

Deadlines do wonders for me. I love a good deadline, the pressure it brings, the sudden inspiration that comes from having no choice other than to put words on the page. There's always a moment in the middle of writing an article that I hit a wall and think, "Why did I do this to myself?" — meaning both wait for the impending deadline and choose journalism as a career.

But then the article comes together. The opening paragraphs become the hook that I envisioned. The quotes fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. My transitions guide the reader seamlessly through the piece. The end delivers the punch.

Once it's done, I realize the writing process wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worked it out to be in my head.

The procrastinating side of me has been alive and well as far as preparing for Luke's birth — and with writing this blog — but a few weeks ago I decided to make it a "deadline week" of sorts for many things.

Blake and I have sort of informally divvied up unpleasant tasks that we know need to be taken care of before he's born but neither of us really want to do: calling the cemetery, coordinating with insurance, finding a mortuary in California (where we live) and one in Utah (where we plan to bury Luke), figuring out what the parameters are for organ and tissue donation to figure out if that's something we'd want or be able to do, etc.

Blake immediately jumped on his tasks, but me ... I've put them off.

But I decided a few weeks ago that that would be the week I'd start tackling them.

And now that they're done, I can see it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

From the moment we made the decision to carry to term, Blake and I both agreed organ/tissue donation was something we wanted to look in to, to make a purposeful gift of Luke's life. It had been on my list of things to figure out for weeks, to call someone who can give us more info, but how does one make that call? What do you even say?

I called One Legacy, a local organization we had been told about that handles and coordinates organ and tissue donation. As the phone rang, I just kept thinking over and over again, "Try not to be awkward, Whitney."

Then I word vomited an explanation of what's going on to the person who answered the phone.

The person responded, "First, thank you for calling. I know this can't have been an easy phone call to make, and I'm so sorry you have to make it."

We talked for about 20 minutes and he answered all of my questions with complete compassion and understanding. I learned that neonatal organ donation essentially isn't a possibility for us, but neonatal tissue donation is. I would need to be at least 36 weeks along, Luke would need to weigh at least 6 pounds and the retrieval would need to occur within 12-24 hours of the last documented fetal movement or heartbeat, but if those parameters are met, we will be able to donate Luke's heart valves to another baby who needs them. We are praying that all of those things will happen.

Me with my parents, sister, nephews and Jack, visiting the cemetery in Utah
where Luke will be laid to rest.

I was on a roll at this point so I just went ahead and called a mortuary in Los Angeles that had been recommended to us.

I word vomited again (which probably isn't surprising to anyone who knows me — my brain often works faster than my mouth) and again, the woman on the phone was unbelievably kind and helped me set up an appointment for Blake and I to meet with them.

We've since had that appointment — it turned into a phone meeting because of all the coronavirus craziness — and although both Blake and I dreaded the appointment, it honestly couldn't have gone better. It turns out the director assigned to us, Virgil, has experienced infant loss himself. He and his wife had a daughter born prematurely who tragically did not survive, and his ability to understand our situation was just one of many small miracles we've seen throughout this process.

While there are a lot of things about Luke's birth and the process after that are still unknown — and will remain that way until they actually happen — we've reached a point now where pretty much everything we can plan is now planned. It's an odd place to be in the waiting game.

And although I wouldn't say getting to this point was "easy" at all, it also wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worked it out to be in my head.

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