This is our 30th anniversary of LA Kelley Communications—amazing! We’ve been publishing original books and newsletters on bleeding disorders for 30 years now, and started programs to help families struggling in developing countries. We originally started just to help new US moms and dads, but grew to have global impact. We continue to assist families with bleeding disorders worldwide with educational and financial resources.
Sometimes I am asked how I started, and why I started. I often give the short version: In 1987 I gave birth to a son with hemophilia, and was so terrified, and had such scary experiences, that I decided to write a book sharing parents’ combined wisdom. It launched a new career.
The longer story is way more interesting —and mysterious! Kind of like Twilight Zone material. Interested? Stick with us—we are going to go deep into how this all came about!
So I had just graduated in May 1986 from the Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at age 28, with a Master’s Degree in International Business and Economics. I had a small apartment near Tufts, and walked to school daily. I actually put myself through school, while paying all my own living expenses. I was completely broke and in debt, but about to get married and land what I hoped was my dream job. Typically, I had everything planned to the nth degree. I even paid for my own wedding. How I did this on $5,000 a year, while working for my professor, seems inconceivable now. College was and is not cheap. Neither is getting married. My gown came literally off the floor at Filene’s Basement, and we found a great reception hall that was subsidized by the military. A friend of ours was an officer. It all helped. Married, July 12, 1986.
Our plan was to land good professional jobs, pay off our debt, wait five years before having children, and buy a trophy home. It was the 1980s after all! We both landed good jobs: I ended up at DRI, a private forecasting company in Lexington, Massachusetts. Kevin ended up at Biogen, which at that time completely fit into one building in Kendall Square, Cambridge.
I recall one night going out, but Kevin told me he had to first check on his Chinese hamster ovaries. A process scientist, he was working on a drug for hemophilia. We stopped by Biogen and I got to peek at hamster ovaries. Weird circumstance #1.
At Christmas 1986, we visited my mother in Springfield, Massachusetts, my home town. I don’t recall whet gifts we gave one another, but I do recall distinctly that before I left to return to Boston, she said she had one more gift. She handed me the paperback of Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie. She off-handedly added that the author’s son has hemophilia, and this is why he wrote about Russian royalty. Weird circumstance #2!
Well, I love history and am a voracious reader. I happily accepted it, read it right away and it immediately became my favorite biography. It pretty much still is.
Little did we know that I was pregnant when she handed me the book. Weird circumstance #3.
In February we all went skiing one day on a Biogen-sponsored ski trip. I recall my skinny skipants not fitting too well. Must be happily married, haha! I recall not having any kind of balance. I fell a lot, even on the “bunny” slope, which made our gang laugh at me. Face covered in frosty snow. On the return trip, we stood in the aisle of the crowded bus as it rocketed down the highway, chatting with friends, when suddenly I, who never in my life got motion sick, felt like vomiting. I raced to the front of the bus, sat in someone’s vacant seat, and composed myself. The nausea passed. Then I noticed someone had left half of a roast beef sub stuck in the back pocket of the seat in front of them. No one was around, and I suddenly grabbed the sub and devoured it. What was I doing?
I found my husband and said to him that something was really wrong with me. My eating was out of control. Maybe you’re pregnant? he said half-jokingly. Not a chance. That was not in the plan. We had debts to pay off and a trophy home to buy.
But a trip to the doctor the following day confirmed it. You are really pregnant, the doctor said, Like three months. He looked at me funny. Yes, my husband and I both had master’s degrees, but work was keeping me very busy. Too busy to notice what was happening to my own body.
Once the shock wore off, we were over the moon excited. The baby was not planned, and I’m still not sure quite how it happened, but we were going to be parents!
Next week: The diagnosis.