What does being a friend mean to you? When I think about being friends with someone, I think of having fun and laughing, doing goofy things we might not do alone or on our own, and sharing and helping each other through things.
One of the things I ran across yesterday while cleaning (I know…, miracles can happen) was a laminated picture of Milagro, my BFF’s oldest daughter. On the back of the picture, Grace had written “you are an angel to me, my mommy and daddy. 2002.” I knew what this meant and what is was referring to. Grace had her first baby at only 26 weeks gestation and the baby weighed a mere 1 pound 2 ounces and Milagro fit into her father’s hand. My kids were all 10 pounds so Milagro’s tininess was unbelievable to me when I finally saw her in the NICU when she was only a few days old.
Grace and Genro had been at our house on Labor Day to check out our third baby boy, when she started leaking amniotic fluid and I was on standby to hear what the doctors had to say about it – “Don’t expect a live birth. Prepare yourselves.” How does one prepare for that? Grace refused – that weekend, she sat down, and kept still, (which WAS a miracle) and she drank as much water as she could hold to rehydrate her pregnant body. Despite all that effort, she ended up in the hospital on bed rest a few days later. Immediately, I went to check on her in the hospital and was surprised to see her doing crafty things, like crocheting. Now, I like knitting and love to share it with everyone, but I had not been expecting to see Grace taking up such a similar hobby, given that her hobbies were much larger endeavors, like building projects or flying military aircraft… or just about anything else other than sitting down and crafting something. But you do what you have to do when you are in self preservation mode (or rather preserve your unborn child’s life mode).
A few days later, Grace had an unplanned C-Section. Milagro was just not able to stay in that protective environment any longer. We found out later that Grace had many, many fibroid tumors and they had grown too big to be a conducive environment for pregnancy any longer. I made it up to the hospital to see Grace and Genro and their baby. I was not prepared for what I saw. Now, I had seen my own first born under the oxygen tent and gasping for air on day 2, but this was different. This scene was a different scale of alarm. I stood and held Grace while we cried together. Finally, after a long, long time of hugging and crying, I said something to her. Later, I got to see Genro hold the baby on his chest — skin to skin contact is good for the baby, you know. That wasn’t the standard operating procedure when I was born three months early and weighed a whopping 3 pounds 2 ounces. At the time I was born, my mom wasn’t allowed in the room with the incubators. Imagine not being able to touch your baby for a month. Thankfully Grace and Genro were in an amazing facility, with amazing medical care and personnel. Many months later Grace and Genro were able to take their daughter home – more details of their story can be seen at Milagro’s website – and continue their miraculous journey.
Years later, Grace reminded me of what I said to her in the hospital that day – “We’ll get through this.” Simple, powerful, and reassuring. Yet, I had no recollection of saying those particular words; but, Grace remembered it; Those few words meant something to her. Then and now.
We’ve been through a lot together and apart, but at the end of the day it comes down to support and love and what you remember. That’s what being a friend means to me. Grace is pictured here receiving a Latina Style award for innovation this past year.
Happy Birthday Grace!
PS – For those wondering, Milagro does mean Miracle in Spanish.
PPS – One of the topics I want to highlight in my blog for 2011 is 30 extraordinary women doing ordinary things. Grace is my first blog entry for this topic – look for the other 29 throughout the year.