Sunday, May 08, 2005

Yesterday we joined more than 300 people in Iowa to walk for preeclampsia awareness. This walk was part of the Preeclampsia Foundation's first annual walk-a-thon in 20 cities across the country and was organized in Davenport by family and friends of Shelly, the woman whose story I linked to here back in February. She died from HELLP Syndrome at University Hospitals in January, just before Will died. Her daughter lived though, and Hailey's stroller led the walk yesterday.

Several of our friends joined us and it was another beautiful Saturday morning--a little warmer this week. We walked along the Mississippi River for about 3 miles. I don't know if it's being with friends or walking for a purpose, but these cause/charity walks sure don't seem as long as my regular exercise walks. At the end, I met a few other women who had suffered from HELLP Syndrome recently. They seemed to have had more trouble with it than I did, especially after delivery, but maybe I was just so focused on Will that I didn't register my own physical woes.

We also met and talked to Shelly's mom, who told us her story--truly tragic. By the time they realized she would require a liver transplant and located a compatible organ, she had suffered brain damage and they had to let her go. Her mom was amazingly composed talking about all of this. I think they have just decided that the way to honor their daughter is to tell her story as often as anyone will listen, in hopes that someone else might be saved. One of our friends asked her about Shelly's daughter and she said, "Oh she's right over here." Before I knew it, someone else was standing in front of us with this beautiful sleeping baby girl in her arms. I had conflicting urges to scoop her up and cradle her in my arms or to run far away. I did neither. I stood there staring as the tears streamed down under my sunglasses. She's not your baby, I told myself. She's a motherless baby and you're a babyless mother. It's not fair for anyone. It just is what it is.

Pretty soon she was gone, but the woman who had been holding her came back and embraced me in a warm, comforting hug. "I lost a baby, too," she said. "I understand. It's so hard." We just stood there, strangers hugging for a few minutes, a veteran comforting a newcomer to this sorority no one would ever choose to join. She was Shelly's husband's aunt and she had lost one of her twins 18 years ago. It still hurts, she said, but you learn to live with it. I'm learning.

Mother's Day, 2005.


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