I started reading Eric Snowdeal’s blog over a year ago because I saw a number of his interests overlapped with mine. He was working at a high tech company (Motorola), very much interested in biology and bioinformatics, and also very much into the blogging revolution. He’s also happens to be the kind of person that doesn’t mind sharing a lot about the details of his life online: how he trains for a marathon, ultrasound pictures of his baby, and so on. But I hadn’t visited his site in a long time. I recently noticed by doing a link search that he had linked to me this spring, so I jumped over to his site to see what was new. I was surprised to see that his whole site had pretty much come to a stop in July, with one exception: detailed coverage of the progress of his prematurely born son.
This was a shock; it stopped me in my tracks. I was used to his breezy discussions of the latest technical trends, and instead I saw a picture of an infant boy weighing 1.7 pounds, born after only 25 weeks. It was a frame-shattering moment. I find pictures of premature babies almost too painful to look at, and to imagine the anguish, stress, and hour-to-hour rollercoaster of emotions he must be enduring, it brought tears to my eyes. As the father of a disabled son, I know something about parental anguish, and seeing it here on the web page of professional peer was heartbreaking and very personal somehow.
I have linked from my site to the Trixie Update in the past. It’s a geeky father’s obsessive record of a healthy baby girl’s life. Go look at it… it’s impressive, bursting with details, optimism, health, and good cheer. Oh the zany things kids do! How they cry and poop! It’s an excellent site, but if you want to know what it means to suffer as a parent, go read Eric Snowdeal’s account. He’s still sounds amazingly upbeat, but his tiny, fragile boy is living in the constant shadow of the unspeakable. It’s easy, as a parent-to-be, to imagine yourself like Trixie’s dad. But you just might find yourself in Eric’s tortured position one day. Making children is serious business. We think we know how things are going to go. We don’t know.
Take a look at some of the postcards he’s been getting. This whole episode is a good example of how the web can make more complete portraits of us all if we will let it. To me, Eric Snowdeal had been a two-dimensional image of a confident competent high tech guy. Not anymore. I wish him luck.