Friday, September 9, 2011

Can You Imagine?

A question for all you parents out there: Do you remember when you first held your baby? Do you remember the overwhelming sense of love you felt for that tiny soul who’d just come into your life? Now can you even imagine resenting that baby?  Can you imagine wishing that you’d terminated the pregnancy months before when you had the chance?

It shames me to say that I know that feeling, the one about resentment.  I know what it feels like to be in such indescribable physical pain as a result of being pregnant that you wish you could go back in time and do the unthinkable. 

Today, most people who learn of my experience nearly dying in childbirth immediately want to reach for the Hallmark version of the story: how I must’ve missed my baby so much when she was sent to live with my brother’s family 400 miles away while I struggled to stay alive in the ICU. But that’s just not true.

My experience with childbirth – my first and last – was skewed by the onset of a very common pregnancy-related disorder called preeclampsia, which claims the lives of 76,000 moms and half a million babies every year.  Every year. 

For me, preeclampsia meant multiple organ failure, massive blood transfusions, and pain. Lots and lots of pain. It taught me that it’s possible to suffer so intensely that no amount of morphine can quell it, and no amount of maternal love can overcome it. By the time I was released from the hospital and my baby came home to live with my husband, Jeff, and me when she was two months old, my resentment had shifted to a different emotion – failure. I felt I had failed as a mother before I even began mothering.

Not everyone who deals with preeclampsia goes through the same emotions that I did. I’ll bet my friend Leticia never resented her baby.  How could she? Four days after he was born prematurely due to preeclampsia, he died. And what emotions must my friends John and Brenda have felt as they held their first grandchild shortly after preeclampsia took their daughter’s life? How does my friend Chris feel every time she takes one of her triplets to yet another doctor appointment to address the ongoing health issues tied to their preeclampsia-induced prematurity?

Preeclampsia is capable of causing such utter despair.  And the antidote to despair is hope.  For millions of new moms and babies, that hope comes in the form of blood. That’s precisely why the Preeclampsia Foundation and the Foundation for America’s Blood Centers are collaborating on a gala benefit in NYC this November 12th – to create hope for every person who has ever felt the despair brought on by preeclampsia, to create hope for the millions of new moms and babies who will rely on lifesaving blood transfusions in the future. 

I am chairing this event and could sure use your help: auction items, sponsors, ticket sales, and attendance (email me! Even if you can’t attend, you can show your support with an online donation: Every bit adds up to more hope.

Can you imagine a world in which every new parent gets to hold their beloved baby and be swept away by an indescribable love? Not despair, just love. 

I can. 

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Lauren's book, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances (In The Telling Press, 2011), is the #1 Top Rated memoir on Kindle. Hardcover copies are available at, or signed copies can be ordered at Happy Reading!

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