I heard an interview the other night of a man who was almost killed in a terrorist attack on his way to climb Machu Picchu. He said that some physical things didn’t heal. But it was mostly the emotional things that he couldn’t get past.
That stuck with me. It made me think of the journey I’ve had with my son for almost 32 years.
What immediately came to mind are the kids who either teased or shunned him years ago. I was furious with those kids—some of whom came to our home as small children only to push him away as they got older. By the time he graduated from high school, he had very few friends. I hurt for him, but it never seemed to bother him. That, for me, has never healed. Not the anger at individual kids; that passed. But anger that this had to be his life never healed.
Then, of course, I thought about his birth and the fact that no one talked to me about premature labor. Not the doctors or the books. It was barely mentioned anywhere, and yet it changed our entire life. My son probably wouldn’t have a disability if he had been born even 8 weeks later. But he was born at 24 weeks. The hospital where he was born had never saved a 24-weeker – a fact that, luckily, they didn’t tell me until he had been out of the hospital for 6 months.
Twenty-something years later, I found myself on the Healthy Texas Babies Expert Panel. I heard all day about what we do for "at-risk" moms (i.e., moms who had experienced a miscarriage or preterm labor).
I asked the panel of experts (obstetricians, neonatologists, pediatricians, nurses, researchers, etc.), “What do you tell women about preterm labor who aren’t at risk?” With over 50 people in the room, the silence was deafening. We then went to lunch.
That, for me, has never healed.
Nor has the memory of doctors saying to me, “We don’t tell them because we don’t want to scare them!” or “You’re not going to mandate that we have to do any more than we already have to do.”
I told my brother about my delivery experience. I didn’t know that I was in labor until we were on the way to the hospital. And the “gas pains” I had all day were 3 minutes apart. I had only known I was pregnant for 14 weeks and hadn’t read the part about labor and delivery yet. I had 16 weeks to go!
My brother told a pregnant friend of his about my experience. The friend experienced preterm labor. She remembered the story and went to the hospital. She did not give birth until the baby is full-term. It’s so simple! Just explain what it feels like!
That, for me, has never healed.
Of course, there were many more hurts in the past that may never heal for me but that’s all that immediately came up while listening to this man’s story. The phrase was just so fitting – some things never heal. They are woven into who we become, and we continue down the road. Our load just a little heavier.
For more information on family support, go to Navigating Daily Life.
After making the difficult decision to medicate your child, with time and on occasions, old symptoms return or new ones appear. Once again, you’re faced with what felt like an already-made decision - to medicate higher or more, or not.