At first glance of the picture above, one might think this is a group of friends going out for dinner and some drinks. That guess would be partly correct. One might think we are getting together to catch up on the latest gossip, talk about our relationships, discuss the newest movies, etc. This is where the picture would be deceiving. One would never guess by looking at this group of ladies that our conversations include feeding issues, g-tubes, swallow studies, brain scans, brain bleeds, weight gain (not our own but the minimal weight gain of our preemies), Synagis shots, therapies, specialists, and surgeries.
Back in the NICU, a few moms and I met once a week in the lobby cafe for lunch. We would share our preemies' progress, setbacks, and challenges. It was comforting to know we were not in this alone. We could relate to each other even if all our stories were different. We were preemie moms. We loved our children, worried about them, wanted the best for them, and desperately wanted them to be able to come home.
After leaving the NICU, I realized I missed the conversations and support of these women. A few of us decided to get together again for coffee or dinner once a month. Our little group that started out with 3 has now grown into 10+ and continues to grow. I look forward to our monthly meetings. It is comforting to know others have walked similar roads. When they offer advice, it's because they have been there. It's not just random advice that people offer up because they don't know what to say. They don't ever say, "Don't worry; everything's going to be okay," because they know that is not always the case despite everyone's hopes that it will all be okay. We can laugh together about how our skin just crawls when people complain about being pregnant. We can vent about the stupid policies of the insurance companies. We can share valuable information about therapies and specialists. Most importantly, we are there to sometimes, just listen - without that awful look of sympathy those who have not walked this road unknowingly give.
These are some of the strongest, most amazing women I know. (A few are not in the picture because they were not able to make it this last time.) Anyone would be amazed and honored to sit at the table with these women and hear their stories. I will only be using the names of the women who have blogs because I know they are open to sharing their story. Everyone who reads this blog already knows that my twins were born 16 weeks early weighing 1 lb. 2 oz. and 1 lb. 8 oz. Fortunately, after their first year with major feeding challenges, they are now showing fewer and fewer signs of their extreme prematurity. Another mom in the group had her son at 25 weeks also weighing only 1 lb. 2 oz. Katrina has the most incredible birth story I have ever heard; she had her son, Bryce, at only 24 weeks gestation, unexpectedly on her bathroom floor. You can read Bryce and his mommy and daddy's amazing story here. Mackenzie also has twins. When she was pregnant, she unknowingly contracted a food-borne bacteria which passed on to one of her twins. Doctors told her it was a one in a million chance. You can read her amazing story here. We have another mom in the group who has twins who were born at 25 weeks gestation. Two moms in the group have triplets!
Natalie has twins who suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in utero. She tells what unfolded from the point she learned this so grippingly in this post on her blog. Her daughter, Harper, will be undergoing major brain surgery on Dec. 7th. You can read about the surgery here. I have been praying for this family a lot lately. I can't imagine what she is going through with the decisions she has had to make and is still having to make for her girls. Please join me in praying for all of these amazing women and their incredible children, especially for little Harper as she undergoes surgery soon.