Having grown up in a small town we found that there were times, in the first few years in our new home town, that we could get around with relative anonymity. However, as you get involved in work, sports, children’s activities etc, you begin to meet people and then all of a sudden you have become entrenched in parts of the community.
I had no idea how many friends and acquaintances of ours worked at the Community Health Centre. That is, until I was frequently running into them when bringing the kids to their SAS appointments. The moment they realised why we were there would have been comical, if it wasn’t so damn heartbreaking.
I remember so clearly being engaged in a lovely conversation with a woman who was our Child Health Nurse, Kaye, keeping one eye on the clock and the other on the door opening up to the corridor that Liz and Bridie would emerge from. Kaye, was in the middle of an animated tale about one of her beautiful daughters when the door opened and Liz called me over. Her whole body visibly slumped, she looked horrified. I said to her, “Give me a minute to take the girls down and I’ll be back”.
When I returned to Kaye’s room, the one that I had my girls weighed, cried because I was sleep deprived, worried over the colour of pooh, became a place for me to console someone who had been a part of our parenthood journey from the beginning. Kaye was so apologetic for her reaction, but I got it. What happened to my kids is horrifying. She was also aware of my relationship with Jen, so again, it added another layer to her empathy.
It wasn’t only Kaye, but Nina, the paediatric Occupational Therapist, who found out this way. Nina was married to the brother of my best friend from childhood, I literally cannot remember not knowing him. Nina, like Kaye, was chatting with me in the waiting room one day and went white when I was called in with the girls. She said, “We knew something was wrong”.
Again, she too knew Jen, and was stunned. Telling her, opened up a new level of support for our family and having Nina and her husband, Dave in our corner moving forward was so comforting.
There were three other people that found out what we were experiencing, simply because of their work at the centre. In some ways, one could say that the system for appointments could be improved, but on the other hand, we were so supported and treated with such respect, that it was heartening. It also shows that you don’t have to hide these issues, there is no shame to be felt from us.
We were reassured early on by the reaction of family and friends. They were nothing but supportive when they found out what we were living through. We were taught, by all the amazing people in our lives, that there was no need to be awkward.