Two years ago I couldn’t tell you I’d be alive, let alone put two words together to finish a sentence, but here we are…with a finished book!
It’s been a little more than 2 years since I gave our baby boy a kick-start to his new life and I was gifted a new start to mine. So when the publisher decided 1 year ago to release 37 Seconds on this day, I was apprehensive, because it falls on one of the holiest Jewish holidays. Ultimately it turned out to be quite symbolic and the right choice for me. You see, today we are celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It is the time of year when we focus on introspection, look back on mistakes we have made, and look forward to challenging times ahead when we can make changes to our lives and hopefully influence change in others.
My family and I have looked back on this year from a very humble place. We are in awe of the support bestowed upon us in those moments where we needed it most. And we are grateful. We spent a great deal of our time last year raising awareness for the condition called Amniotic Fluid Embolism and funds for the AFE Foundation. Hopefully all of us can make a difference to aid in research to help prepare for this G-d forsaken condition.
But the work can’t happen fast enough. In 21st-Century United States, AFE is the second leading cause of maternal death. Each and every week since my AFE, many other women have suffered from one. Some families got lucky to have the mother and baby survive, as mine did, while others like 29-year-old Army wife Paloma Button, were not so lucky. One minute, families are celebrating a child’s birth, and the next, they are planning a funeral. It shouldn’t happen, yet it still does.
I’ve always felt survivors have a responsibility. We can speak where others cannot. I do not want anyone who suffered a fate worse than mine to be forgotten. And those who have yet to suffer, we would like to do our part and make people more aware. We will continue to speak out. Maybe, just maybe, we CAN make a difference.
Another way we are looking forward to helping is by sharing every painful detail of our story. None of it was easy and writing it in this book was even harder, but in a different way. I talked to everyone I knew about what had happened with the hopes of educating people to advocate for themselves. Jonathan knew the work was important as he saw the light in people’s eyes, but he didn’t really want to share his deepest emotions with the world. As an Air Force pilot, Jonathan worked really well under pressure and crisis, and he reacted just as you’d expect him to react under our crisis. However, when I started this book, he wanted nothing to do with it and fought me tirelessly when I wanted to interview him. I couldn’t understand it, but ultimately I got it. Once crisis was averted, he would have liked to move forward, sweep this under a carpet, move on. Unfortunately, he married a very inquisitive and annoying woman who wouldn’t let up on getting his side of the story. I thought my pain was unbearable when, in actuality, his thoughts – every minute of every day, while I lay in a coma with machines breathing for me – were excruciating. No wonder he didn’t want to go back into it. I don’t blame him, but I needed him to write down his thoughts. People kept asking me what he was feeling and doing through all of this. They kept imagining what he was thinking, but he wouldn’t talk about it. I explained how he could help from the husband’s perspective, to bare his soul and to show that it take a great man to admit to great pain and weakness. He wasn’t happy about it by any means, but he reluctantly gave in. What I got back was too difficult for me to read at first. I have read it now several times and I can’t look at it without welling up. What you will see in the book, in his voice, are his words and his deep, great pain. I thank G-d every day for bringing this man into my life.
We share our story, all aspects of it, in hopes of helping other people advocate for themselves and understand that the intuitive part of us is not to be ignored. It is in all of us. We hope to teach our children that through great obstacles comes great inspiration. Through darkness comes “light” at the end of a very long tunnel. And when there is no hope, miracles can happen. And help comes in all forms. Sometimes you just need to see it to believe it. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for taking the time to be a part of our lives.
There is a tradition on this holy day where we eat apples and honey, and toast to a happy, healthy, and SWEET new year. We wish everyone, of all faiths and denominations, spirits on this dimension and others, a very SWEET new year!
Jonathan and Stephanie Arnold
Valentina, Adina and Jacob
Zach & Isabella