Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Aware

This month, I wear gray. And I also wear pink, for preeclampsia. 
Sometimes I feel like a total charity case--like at a playdate when women are sharing birth stories or when they are hemming and hawing about their child's late-ish walking.

Nothing brings a room down faster than: "oh, I had emergency c-sections. and yeah, the girls were super early and spent weeks in the NICU. Oh and Lily did not walk until 3 1/2, there was this small matter of a brain tumor, surgery and radiation."

It is the most isolating and troubling part of my social existence. I cannot even pretend to be normal.  I am not a cry baby, but fear I appear to be. And I can't just shut up and move on; I am much too much of a chatty cathy to pretend like everything is all white bread and stuff.

This awareness of things like preeclampsia and brain tumors and cancer and IEPs and physical therapy has bought me to my knees. It has also opened my eyes to other people's struggles in a way I never understood before becoming a mother. Yes, I don't know the first thing about autism--but I can relate to the toll it takes on motherhood and social lives and families. And no, I have no idea what it is like to battle breast cancer. But, I can understand the fear of dying and leaving your children.  And yeah, Lily has been healthy for almost five years without a recurrence, but I can put myself in the shoes of the mothers watching their children battle cancer for a second time.

If I don't tell people what I know; what I am aware of; all this awareness is useless. Awareness brings funds for cancer research or research into the causes of preeclampsia and better treatments for preemies in the NICU. But it does something more:

It makes everyone aware that life is not a cake walk and it makes playdate conservation a little less isolating. It brings understanding and empathy and compassion and sisterhood to dark, lonely places.

May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. May is also Brain Tumor Awareness Month. It is also the national awareness month for 31 other diseases, health disorders and conditions. There is a lot of nasty stuff out there--that I never even heard of.

But, maybe you have and maybe you've experienced. Maybe you've lived it in a way that people need to know. So, this May and then in June, July, August, September, October, November, December and the rest of the months, share your story. Tell someone. Open up with your story and build awareness. It is awareness that saves lives and makes lives a little less lonely.





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