This is the eternal question. A 25 year old woman, glowing with her first pregnancy, sees me playing with my four year old one rainy day at the mall. She is watching her niece. After some chit chat about the awful weather, how old my son is, the tyrant two year old who is dominating the slide, talk turns to her pregnancy. I ask how far along she is. She is 32 weeks. She asks if my pregnancy was easy. I stop. I really stop. I don't know what to say--part of me wants to shake her shoulders and tell her how terribly awful and scary what happened to me was. Part of me wants to shield her from the truth. I mean--what is the sense of worrying her unnecessarily?! I imagine her going home in tears to her husband who curses me for frightening his wife. Zealot, he says, whacko, he says and I know that 95% of the time--he is right. 5% of the time--sadly--I am the one who is right. I never want to be right, believe me.
So I found myself in that situation with a woman who clearly had preeclampsia just last week. She had called for information and her doctor had sent her home. Not knowing that flashing lights was a warning sign of a stroke, she had not mentioned it to her doctor and he had failed to ask. "That's so freaky," she said, "I hadn't mentioned that to anyone, not even my husband." Then she said, "I guess they think I have preeclampsia, but it isn't really that serious, right?! All I could think about was the fact that this Saturday I would be speaking at the memorial for Marianna Wesling-Williams. Mari, who should be delivering her first baby sometime soon here, will be memorialized because she and the baby died. She was 39. She was intelligent and from all appearances got good high risk care. Yet she died. And here was this young, kind hearted woman asking me to reassure her that she would be fine.
Of course I did--I reassured her she would be fine--but I did say that this disease could be very dangerous, I did say that sometimes we lose babies and I did say, sadly, sometimes we lose moms. But I quickly added but of course that wouldn't happen to her. Of course she would be fine. Am I right to say that? How can I know? It is so tricky and frankly--just wrong that we, the women, have to be the front line of defense against this disease--and we have to risk being called zealots, and whackos, and we have to frighten some women so that we might maybe save a few. If you are one of those women that we are frightening--know we are not doing it easily--we don't enjoy scaring you with our experiences--but we want to save you the pain and suffering we experienced so that you might not have a similar story to share one day in the mall when you are sitting with your baby. Or god forbid, not be alive to share it. As I told the woman on the phone--don't you worry about being a total pain in the butt. You are paying this doctor's salary--that is his job. If you have to go back 10x this weekend--YOU GO--because I would rather we be called zealots and whackos--then know that we could have saved someone and we didn't--because fear of looking foolish kept us quiet.
Please join me in honoring the memory of our women who have died by contributing to the Marianna Williams Memorial Research Fund.
And on Saturday--keep the Wesling-Williams family in your thoughts and prayers.