When Charlie was in the NICU, I met and was befriended by another NICU mom (and her family). We celebrated our babies growth together, supported each through the trials, laughed about annoyances of hospital life, and even attended NICU classes together. Most importantly, we were able to make each other smile.
Meeting the mom and her family was a turning point in Charlie’s NICU stay for me. Their presence and friendship helped me to work past the grief that I was drowning in. It provided some nuance of normalcy and I no longer felt alone.
Today, Charlie and I were reunited with that NICU mom and her family to celebrate her baby’s first birthday. We had much to celebrate.
After surviving two major surgeries in addition to being premature, her baby is thriving. She has dwarfed the size that I remember her being.
The family were among the few visitors Charlie received in the NICU. They understood how far she had come.
It was comforting for me to be able to discuss things like AFOs, specialists, feeding strategies, PT, and swallowing issues over a plate of potato salad. I did not have to convince people that it was OK that we were dealing with such issues. It was helpful to learn new ideas from their experiences.
I loved how it was interwoven in to the conversation with other bits and pieces about our lives. Charlie and I spend a significant amount of time attending appointments and therapy sessions. However, our lives are not limited to merely those things. It was nice to share common ground and for them to have been there with us in some way from nearly the beginning.
At the end of the afternoon, the other NICU mom and I watched the babies play. She remarked how it had been a year since we first met in the hospital. I found it peculiar. A year seems so short to describe a journey that has felt like an eternity. I did not dwell on the thought long.
I was enchanted. There was something so magical watching those two babies play together when a year ago we were pleading for their survival.