My first of many Mothers Days was dedicated to my friend Jessica, the bravest mommy I know. I’ve only met Jessica once — well twice, really — but we share a very special bond. To me, Jessica epitomizes the true meaning of motherhood.
I first crossed paths with Jess online last summer while we were both on bedrest for Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes. While I complained about icky hospital food and nurses with no regard for privacy, Jessica endured the bravest fight of her life just across the river in St. Paul. Sadly, Jessica’s sweet angel Madeline Deborah is not with us today. She was born Aug. 17 at 24 weeks and 5 days gestation. She weighed 1 lb. 4 oz. and lived for 4 precious hours. Maddie was a fighter, just like her mama. BOTH of them are mine and Lila’s forever heroes.
Jess and I remained in touch through an incredible group of 15 women from all over the world who’ve all experienced pPROM. It’s a private group on Facebook called pPROM Warriors and we share the triumphs and tribulations of the trauma of pPROM, including some very personal information. This group has saved me. It sounds cliche, but it’s so true and I think many of them would say the same thing about themselves.
Fast-forward several months. I’m at the doctor’s office making appointments at the front desk when I hear my name. I turn to see Jessica. Keep in mind we had not met in person up to this point. Shocked and amazed, we both stared at each other for a moment before settling into each others’ arms for a tearful embrace. We promised to make a point of getting together. It was ridiculous that we hadn’t met up until then and there’s a lot of excuses for it, but none that are truly valid. We both walked away from that bizarre encounter shaken by the fact that something bigger than us put two very broken women in the same room at the same moment to hold each other up. It was incredible. It turns out that Jess had recognized the earrings I was wearing from one of my Facebook pictures and suddenly my name was coming out of her mouth.
I finally met up with this incredible woman again a few weeks ago when she came over to see me and Lila. First of all, she brought homemade cupcakes, so I loved her from the moment she stepped in the door. But honestly, I was a little concerned about how seeing Lila would affect her. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to see other babies who are the same age as Maddie would be. But there was something very special that I saw that day between Lila and Jess. Lila was going through a bit of stranger anxiety at the time, firing off a skeptical eyebrow to anyone other than me and her dad. But not with Jessica. She took to her immediately and I watched in amazement the joy that poured out of both of them. I saw the mother in Jess.
There was a moment when Jess was playing peek-a-boo with Lila on the couch that a little unknown boy came to my mind. I was in the midst of feeding hell with Lila and took a timeout in the doctor’s office after one of her appointments to feed her while she slept. I sat her up to burp her and upon seeing that I had a baby in my arms, a little boy exclaimed to his mother, “Hey! That’s a mom, too!” I looked down at my sleeping baby, kissed her head and thought to myself, “Yes, I am a mom. A very lucky mom.”
And that’s what I wanted to say to Jessica that day. “Hey! You’re a mom, too!” Even though Maddie’s not here, it doesn’t change the fact that Jessica fought her damndest to keep Maddie safe and give her the best life that she could. No matter how short of time, she held her in her arms with as much love as any mother would.
To top it all off, Jessica lost her own mother a few years ago. Utterly heart-wrenching. I cannot fathom life without my daughter, let alone my own mother. I’ve spent a good amount of time feeling sorry for myself lately, but it’s no way to live and so I’m taking cues from my new friend. She’s had a rough go of it and it’s not fair, there’s no doubt about that. But I see such positivity and zest for life inside her — it’s clear that her mom did a damn good job while she was here. I don’t think I’ve been this deeply affected by the love and humility of someone in a long time. I think I have a lot to learn from her and I’m looking forward to getting to know my new friend, Maddie’s Mom.