Mother’s Day — it’s complicated

Dear President Trump,

How was Mother’s Day for your family? I hope you and Barron showed Melania a nice time today.

It’s been kind of a mixed Mother’s Day weekend for us. Honestly, no matter what’s happening, it’s always a little hard because our son’s death hovers in the background every year. There was an NPR piece this week reporting on the US’s tremendously high maternal mortality rate and the fact that for every maternal death, 70 other women come close to dying in and around childbirth. I’ve told you before about how close I came to dying and the horrible situation we faced when it was clear I couldn’t stay pregnant long enough for him to survive and every minute I remained pregnant endangered me. You’d think I would avoid reading articles like that, but it’s sort of like a moth to flame – I can’t not read them.

I’ve got a couple of take homes for you from all this. First, it is clear I was fortunate to have on the ball doctors, to be white and have decent health insurance, and to have two physicians in the family who swooped in and communicated with the medical staff. If I’d been sent home from my check-up when the blood pressure spike was detected it’s very likely I wouldn’t be here typing to you now. Second, these sorts of articles only seem to be able to deal with one side or the other of birth tragedies. We either hear about maternal or infant deaths and close calls. All the babies of the women profiled in the NPR article who had a close call survived. So far I’ve not seen any articles that describe situations like ours where the child doesn’t make it and the mother barely does, let alone when an emergency decision to terminate the pregnancy had to be made. Third, I want to commend NPR for pulling forward how so very many maternal deaths and close calls could be prevented if medical providers actually listened to mothers and took their concerns about strange or scary symptoms seriously.

Before closing, I want to let you know that today our daughter brought us flowers and a balloon (inexplicably, ironically, an “It’s a Boy!” balloon) and it was like the sun broke through the clouds. I’m so grateful.

May we be safe to carry and bear children.
May we be happy to listen to women and trust that we know what we are talking about.
May we all be mama bears when it comes to every child’s health.
May we make big enough spaces in our hearts to see that each one of us are precious, unique, invaluable.

Tracy Simpson

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