New Empathy for Grandparents

Often it's hard to fully appreciate what a person is going through until you find yourself experiencing something similar.

When Monica and I were dealing with various pregnancy complications during the childbearing years, I was so focused on my own stress that I did not give a great deal of thought to what that must have been like for my parents. Now that my daughter, Emily, is pregnant with her third child and experiencing the complications of preterm labor at 22 weeks, I am gaining a new understanding.

Personally, Monica and I dealt with the loss of Emily's twin, Kathleen's stillbirth, a molar pregnancy, an early miscarriage, and an abysmal prenatal diagnosis, but never had problems with preterm labor. We had a loss between each of our 4 living children, and our youngest daughter, Maggie, was the one where prenatal testing suggested she would not survive after birth. In that case, we got lucky and she was fine.

In part because we live in Minnesota and Emily and her family live in Arizona, Monica and I find ourselves worrying about what is going on or might happen, and feel guilty that we can't be there to help out. Every time their phone number pops up on my cell phone, my heart races a little and I have to swallow hard before I answer. On the couple of occasions that it was Emily or Bryant calling to say they were heading to the hospital to be checked, I find myself going into "Mr. Positive" mode, assuring them that probably everything is fine, but it's always good to go in to the doctor or hospital  if they are worried. My parents often played that role with us, and I guess in part that is why I did not really think those times were all that difficult for them. To be honest, I just didn't think a lot about it.

So, if you find yourself frustrated with your parents fretting or irritated with their erratic behavior, take a minute to think about what this experience is like for them. I can vouch for the fact that it's very difficult seeing your own kids stressed and scared, knowing there is not a alot you can do to help!