I go back to St. David's a lot. It's the hospital where the twins were born, the place where I have had all of my cancer surgeries and the home of the Breast Cancer Resource Center. I am running there at least once a week while we plan Graphic 4: the Art Bra Fashion Show to benefit the BCRC. But that's not what this post is about.
Each time I swing around the drive to pull into the parking garage, I pass the main entrance to the hospital. And each time, almost any hour of the day, there is inevitably a new mom waiting to leave the place with a newborn infant in tow - eager to position that stupid, ungainly baby carrier in the back seat so she can sit next to it and ooh and ahh while some husband, partner or chauffeur drives them home. There are balloons, there are smiles. And each time I see this, I still cringe. It's been almost 5 years, my twins are healthy and thriving and it seems like eons ago that they were born 3 months early and so very, very ill. Evan called them little grey squirrels at just 2 lbs each. And the hardest day of my life up until now - even harder than cancer, even harder than finding out that Zelda was born blind, and perhaps rivaling the pain I felt when my Dad died - was the day I left that hospital without my newborn twins. I was so pissed off that day. I was so angry at those other happy moms.
My friends and family were wonderful. They brought food, they brought flowers but they were afraid. We were afraid. They tiptoed around the questions about the "non-perfect" children, they mourned our "loss" of an idyllic birth experience...And it was hard. It did suck. Our friends were reverent and concerned and worried about us and the babies. I loved and appreciated all of them for it despite my feelings of guilt about going into premature labor and overwhelming post-partum depression.
But the other day, I ran into a friend. He and his wife just had a baby born with Down's Syndrome. I looked at him and smiled knowingly. I asked him how she was doing, empathized over the lengthy NICU stay but most of all I said "Congratulations! I am so happy for you and your wife and your new daughter."
We are so lucky. I am so lucky to be a mom. Whatever the experience, whatever the birth, please don't ever forget to say those words...they mean more to the parents than you'll ever know...tell them "Congratulations"...