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Friday, April 27, 2018

The power of what we do and don't talk about

Yesterday was our 26th wedding anniversary.  As happens on days like that, Tony and I were reflecting on our past, and especially on my pregnancy with my first child, William. 

Then in the early 90s even more than now, it seemed like pregnancy complications were something not to be talked about.  It was the heyday of "What to Expect When You're Expecting", a book that seemed determined to let you know that everything you were experiencing was just fine, perfectly normal.  There were a few small pages only about what can actually go wrong, and they were presented as something you probably didn't even need to know about, something you certainly shouldn't dwell on.  And so when my pregnancy felt different than what I read about or saw around me, I figured I was just being paranoid. 

I wasn't, and William was born at 7 months by emergency C-section because my pre-eclampsia had progressed to life-threatening levels.  It turned out, in my family anyway, that wasn't that uncommon.  On my father's side in particular, pre-eclampsia turned up often, with the strongest example being my great-grandmother, who died of eclampsia, seizures, a few days after my grandmother was born.  A few months after William's birth, the TV series ER had an episode called "Love's Labor Lost", in which a mother dies from complications of pre-eclampsia.  I wish I'd seen it sooner, although it was the hardest thing to watch I've ever seen.
A scene from ER's "Love's Labor Lost"

Of course, there are reasons we don't talk about everything in our lives publicly.  There is much in all our lives, including mine, that we don't share.  The reasons are many, and sharing or not is a choice we have a right to make, and sometimes an obligation to make.

However, at times, sharing can be life saving, or soul saving.  My life, and William's, were in the balance around the time of his birth.  I wish I had known what I know now about how suddenly and drastically pregnancy can take a turn.  And when it comes to my life with Janey---if I hadn't found the people I have, through this blog, mainly, I don't know if I would be here today.  There were days, and nights, that were only survivable by knowing that others had lived this life and gone on to a place of calm, even happiness.  And what keeps me writing today is those letters I've gotten from others with girls like Janey telling me how knowing they weren't alone kept them going.

Something I try to always keep in mind, though, is that there is much we don't know about the lives of others.  We don't always know what others are struggling with, what health issues or family issues or any other issues are affecting their lives.  There are many things we don't share, or aren't ready to share.  There are many times we are the ones depending on others who ARE ready, who DO share, whose stories we cling to as we struggle with what we ourselves are not yet, or ever, sharing.  Help comes in many forms---both in how we give and how we get help.

I want to thank those who have made me know I'm not alone, over the years---both those who shared their life experiences and those who didn't, but used them to become comforters and helpers of others.  May none of us ever feel truly alone.

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