So I have this friend. She’s “just a mom”.
Hopefully you know that I say this “tongue-in-cheek,” because hopefully by now, you and I both know that there is really no such thing.
So this friend of mine is beautiful. (Those redheads always have an edge, right?) She is warm. She has a “throw her head back” laugh like another certain redhead we all like to watch. She is generous. She just give, give, gives to her friends, to her family, to just about everyone. She is an amazing mom. One of those whole food cooking, consistent structure building, affection slathering, majorly loving mothers. She is also a total smartypants. She is a highly educated PICU RN capable of taking care of the sickest of the sick patients on our unit (and a few other units as well).
One year ago on this day my friend’s personal life and her professional life were headed for an intersection of the most epic proportions. It was probably more like a traffic circle really, with all of her worlds of people mingling and swirling around and around.
One year ago on this day, her lovely family welcomed their third incredibly handsome son. One year ago today they embarked on what must have been a roller coaster journey of a year. The first few weeks of this precious boy’s life simply had to have been the most challenging time this young family had faced so far.
Their much-loved and warmly welcomed baby boy started having respiratory distress almost immediately after being born. He spent a few very tough days in the hospital’s NICU and then, when there seemed no other option, was transferred to the PICU to be placed on ECLS (or ECMO as it is commonly called).
Similarly to his oldest brother, he had something called PPHN. While ECLS is one of most effective treatments for PPHN, it is not without its risks. And his mommy knew those risks. At the time of her youngest son’s birth, his mother was finishing her training to manage the very equipment that would now hopefully help save his life.
Those days must have been unbelievably difficult. Just imagine being postpartum, seriously sleep deprived, with two young boys at home, and one son incredibly sick in the unit where you work.
I was out on maternity leave at the time of my friend’s ordeal. Although we were relatively new friends and co-workers, we had bonded a bit over our closely timed pregnancies. I already knew she was amazing. I was already thankful to have such a great “mom-friend” as a resource, especially in navigating the fresh (to me) waters of sibling relations. So I was not actually present on our unit during her family’s crisis, but I am certain that the whole experience must have been surreal.
I also know that during this crazy blurry time, Meg felt held. She was held. By God, by prayers, by her incredible family, and by her friends, many of whom were also her coworkers, who were also the medical staff who were caring for her precious newborn son.
Thankfully (that word doesn’t seem quit big enough), their boy fought, and worked, and even thrived. After a few days, he was successfully weaned off of ECMO and eventually went back to the NICU. After what seemed like an eternity of tiny steps, about a month later, their littlest boy came home.
And today this boy is so incredibly healthy. He laughs, he plays, he eats, he grows!
His momma graciously shares all of her boy’s milestones with her friends and coworkers. She must know that sometimes we need the encouragement. She allows us to glimpse the possibilities of what can happen in our workplace. She shares as any friend, any proud mom does, all of his cute stuff, his silly stuff, even his frustrating stuff.
I have heard her marvel before that people often say what a miracle he is. “And he is!” she’ll say. “But he is also just my kid,” she adds with a proud but knowing smile, fully appreciating all of the “normal” her family is bound to experience together.
On this day I give thanks that I have this friend. I am thankful to know her wonderful family with her loving husband and their three spectacular boys.
On this day, we give thanks for medical technology, for brilliant minds, for healing hands, for God’s grace, for family, for friendship, and…
… for a boy who is “just a kid,” but a miracle just the same.