In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There were suddenly an overabundance of WTF moments, OMG moments, and "I can't even remotely believe this is happening" moments. I began writing therapeutically, and I found my recollections came in "layers". I would first write what happened (like, the baby stopped breathing in my arms, but I didn't start CPR right away as I should have), and I would think, "Oh, I handled that horribly; I'm such a rotten mother!" Then I'd remember, "Oh yeah; this was going on, too," (like, the fact that I was a young, sleep-deprived, postpartum mother who had just bore witness to hours of failed IV attempts, was reeling over a rare, potentially fatal diagnosis, holding onto hope for survival, but not having any idea what that survival would actually mean for me or my baby, while simultaneously preparing myself for the very real possibility of her passing...oh, and also "mourning the death of the healthy child I thought I had" before her diagnosis). Then it would hit me that 3 other things were happening at the same time (for instance, a failing marriage, pathetic financial woes, and my other daughter's increasingly bizarre behaviors), and so...if that portion of my parenting career didn't exactly resemble June Cleaver, well...no wonder! Those were some pretty extreme circumstances!
Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and said things like, "Wow, I'm working with another family right now, and I'm certain the mom is struggling with the feelings you wrote about here, but she doesn't seem comfortable sharing her thoughts. I think she's ashamed or afraid to open up, and I think reading something like this would really help her to know she's not alone...and that the way she's responding to what life is throwing at her right now is only natural." After many similar comments, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and bear my exposed, bleeding heart to the world. I figured if sharing my tale would help just one family facing similar challenges, my fear of criticism from the rest of the reading world would all be well worth it.