To the Moms Who Cared For My Family When My Daughter Was Critically Ill

She was puzzled when her colleague called her to tell her that one of her patients had just delivered a new baby girl…But there was something wrong. A skin disorder. What did that mean exactly? Had she missed something during all of her patient’s seemingly typical prenatal appointments?

And then she received a texted photo of the new baby. With elevated concern, she dropped her phone and yelled anxiously to her nurse to cancel her appointments the rest of the day.

Well aware of what this severe unexpected condition could mean for the baby’s life, the ob/gyn physician rushed to the hospital to be by her patient’s side. My side.

My beloved doctor sat with me and patted my arm. She did all she could to help in the critical situation. And then, when Brenna was transferred to the NICU, she continued to call to check on me and our family. She made appointments for me during her hectic days, just to talk. And more than one morning, she stopped by the NICU before her long shift to see Brenna. She left her own children in the early hours to make sure mine was OK.

More than five years from those days after Brenna’s birth, I never imagined how my heart could be stretched, not only because of the love I have experienced every day for my own two beautiful children, but because of the love shown to me by other moms along this life-changing journey of motherhood.

When my own weaknesses and limitations were pushed too far, other moms stepped alongside me and our family, time and again.

Today, in honor of this year’s approaching Mother’s Day, I offer a Thank You of deep gratitude…a thank you to those of you who have mothered my children. A thank you to those who kept my daughter alive, who cared for my son when I couldn’t be there, who served my family in the most selfless ways.

You, the neonatologist who sat by my hospital bed and patted my leg and looked at me with hurting blue eyes, with your own tummy bulging under your hospital scrubs with new life, offering me careful words to explain my child had a skin disorder called ichthyosis and the prognosis was not clear but that she was in good hands….thank you.

You, my friends, acquaintances and strangers who shifted around your budgets for weeks and weeks so you could generously help with Brenna’s medical expenses… thank you.

You, fellow mothers who took time away from your own family to spend extra time preparing a meal for mine… thank you.

You, NICU nurses who kissed your own babies goodbye to spend 12 hours on your feet taking care of mine, loving her to better health and increased strength, but also never forgetting to ask if Evan and I were all right, if we needed anything, if we had any questions… thank you.

You, moms who added to your shopping list at the store to purchase Aquaphor and medical supplies or thoughtfully choose a gift cards to Starbucks or the grocery store or Subway and spend time addressing it to our home… thank you.

You, nursing moms – a small but exceedingly special group – who gave hours of your life and dedication of your body to pump milk for Brenna for nearly two years… thank you.

You, the pediatrician who immediately gave me your cell phone number knowing, mother-t0-mother, than I needed that connection – and then answered my calls on evenings and weekends while letting me know you were happy to help… thank you.

You, the therapists who offered to come to our home to make it easier on our family, who researched and asked about the best ways to help Brenna, who are so involved in her school success… thank you.

You, medical teams of mothers who always ask me what I think, trusting that as her mother, I know my daughter best… thank you.

You, our own mothers. Our aunts, our cousins. Who have taught us how to love big, love whole, love unending. Who forced us out of the house, who rocked our baby through long afternoons, who played with our toddler during intense skincare routines, baths and hospitalizations. Who have been steady support, every day… thank you.

Tears slide down my face as I recount the dozens of instances that mothers I know stood up when my daughter was critically ill, reached out, and held my family in support. And my gratitude wells up with each memory, because I know it was not easy. It was one more thing to do, one more thing to think about, in the midst of already very full lives. But willingly, you stretched, and you carried, and you sacrificed, and you gave.

We all may parent differently, but the love of a mother never looks all that different – selfless, devoted, unconditional, caring. What I’ve found is that mothers not only lovingly care for their own children, but they truly love each other and they care for each other’s children. None of us could parent our best without the love of all of the moms around us, especially to lift us up and carry us through when we need it most.