Lesson learned on Mother’s Day 2013. A day people generally think everyone is elated to celebrate. I mean everyone is a mom or has a mom right? Nope. Some people don’t have moms. Some people don’t have moms -> anymore. And, not even everyone who does have a mom is celebrating. Some are estranged. Some may be incarcerated & are suffering shame. Some may be abandoned. And then regarding be-ing a mom, some struggle. Some struggle hard & long & get success but haven’t gotten there yet. Some struggle hard & long & never get their dream. Some moms are single moms bringing a new list of complications. Whether it is due to being widowed, being unwed, being abandoned they may have no one to head up the celebration of them. They may have mourning attached to their celebration. Who knew so much emotion could be wrapped up in the biggest phone call day of the year?
Well today 2 things happened in my little world. One is a dear friend of mine that struggled to become pregnant gave birth to a beautiful daughter – yes, on Mother’s Day. Oh the elation! The 2nd is another dear friend of mine who struggled long & hard with infertility & finally invitro, announced today that she is now expecting. Again – great elation! I was aware of her struggle & had attempted to comfort, encourage to help. I thought I had been helpful but then she shared more about the struggle people with infertility go through & I learned how little I really knew. She shared a blog story with details I had not considered nor been really truly aware of. I saw it different. I saw it via the similar yet different struggle of a NICU mom.
I am somewhat familiar with the struggle of a NICU mom because my daughter has been one 2x. And as that sentence states it was my daughter, not I, that was in that position. So, again, I have only my view & not 1st seat vision of the place, the struggle, the pain. Her 1st time being a NICU mom vastly differed from her 2nd so even there the “I know how you feel” is erased. The 1st time she seemed to have no difficulty getting pregnant at all which both surprised them as well as flies in the face of the struggle in the previous paragraph. Having gotten pregnant quicker than expected, the be-ing pregnant was emotionally challenging. Then there were all the unplanned for demands “everyone” puts on a pregnant mom – what to eat, not eat, do, not do…etc. So with the 1st pregnancy concluding early (35 weeks), blame followed hard on her heels – both from people & from herself. The struggle there I did not live myself, but I witnessed close up. What tormenting pain. Then there was the 2nd time – after getting the courage up to go through this process again. This time took a little longer so preparation was in place, or so it was thought. This time, all the healthy changes were observed as “everyone” would approve. So why didn’t it go according to plan? Why did it end seemingly worse than the previous? The preparation was in place, the right things were done…why? Why? This time the baby needed to be removed via emergency C-section to save the mom’s life when ½ hour earlier a more controlled & safer yet still dangerous induction was planned. There was no preparation for this decision that was possibly sacrificing the baby for the mother – that is not what we signed up for folks! The baby was 31 weeks. Being a person of faith in Jesus I put in motion what I had learned & I am thankful to say both survived & are doing well. Both NICU situations meant leaving your baby at the hospital & having to go home without it. The 2nd time not even allowed to hold your baby & then when you can, for only 10 minutes. The 1st time was 9 days in the NICU. The 2nd time 36 days. The emotions involved are indescribable. Again, I was not the mom, just the grandma – close, but still 2nd hand from the person in the seat of the situation. I could go on & on with details to enlarge your understanding – if you’d want to understand. Many people really don’t – unless it effects them.
That is one of the things I think I have learned. People are blind to so much. Me included. Until I read my friend’s post with details, I didn’t know that I didn’t know stuff that would be helpful to know. Was that understandable? One point being, we need to care, to want to see. We need light to see. We need to ask. People need to share. There needs to be safety for that exchange. Safety is not always available – so people hide. So without the light & without the sharing, incomplete help, incomplete understanding & loneliness occur. Or worse, no understanding at all, just condemnation, judging or following up through our own perception alone. It is interesting that many people followed up regarding the baby, but most, if not all, failed to follow up on how the mom was doing. They understood the preemie part – to a point. They must have missed the gravity of the mom’s situation. The fact of “taking” the baby as the only option to save her & then she still had to recover. And then she was sent home before she was “ready” because of another complication – transferring the baby to another hospital. Again, I will not go into detail. Point being, it was not just the baby that had the issue here.
So what is my point of what may seem rambling? I am certain now that there many many more details that couples go through when having difficulty to conceive. There are some that take long & some that go through invitro, surgery all kinds of stuff I am unaware of. I care more now. Their pain is more real. I can’t fix it. But I can care to inquire more. I don’t want to play band-aid.
Then I got my “epiphany”. These are just TWO subjects people go through. How many other issues, traumas do people endure silently & alone? People deal with SO many issues. Abuse (many varieties), neglect, bullying, poverty, cost of mistakes made, divorce, bankruptcy, homeschool, private school, public school, stay at home mom, working mom, taking care of elderly parents, assisted living, Alzheimer’s, cancer, HIV, homelessness, unpaid medical bills & the list goes on & on. I remembered some of my own, growing up. Multiple deaths, multiple traumas. No one was there. Not many, if any understand, or even “care”. They don’t know that they don’t know stuff that would be helpful to know. Blind, we discount other people’s pain. Categorize it, compartmentalize it, perhaps even prioritize it. Make it “convenient” for our minds to deal with. We want it neat. Life is not neat – it is messy. There are reasons, causes, stories behind it all. Perhaps we are self-involved with our own issue that needs validated which is what keeps us from asking the questions, taking the time to listen, to understand, to care. We cannot all do everything. But we can all do something, for someone, & until we can do all, for all, we should keep our judgments to ourselves. We need to stop giving band aids at best & throwing rocks at worst. We need to apply this: You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960)
Jesus did just that. His response was to act with compassion toward the hurting & judged, but acted with judgment on the all-knowing & arrogant. Grace. We should follow his example. I know I want to. I may not be able to help everyone, but I can do something. So that is what I decide to do. I want to SEE more & then – I want to SOW4HOPE!
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