If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen my plea for prayers for some dear friends.
On June 1 when I was admitted to Los Robles, there was a woman residing just down the hall. Her name is Janelle and she had already been there for over a week when Abby was born. For the first 4 weeks of Abby’s life, I knew nothing of Janelle and her husband, Ben. Our little world concerned only Abby and her nurses and doctors. But on one Sunday afternoon at the end of June, one of our nurses asked if we would entertain a guest. A man, who’s wife was on bed rest down the hall, wanted to see the NICU and prepare himself for what could very possibly lie ahead for his precious little family. We were happy to meet Ben and show him what we could about the NICU.
You could tell that no amount of research prepared him for what he saw in Abby. He couldn’t believe her size. We told him her story and we could see how overwhelmed he was with it all. All the wires, all the alarms, all the rules. But through it all, you could see the relief in his face that a 24 weeker could make it. You see, it turned out that THAT DAY was the 24 week mark for his wife’s pregnancy. They were having a party in her room to celebrate reaching what the hospital calls “the point of viability.” (This is where I remind you just how early Abby was born – 1 week prior and we wouldn’t have been talking about “survival rates.” It would have been a “terminated pregnancy.”) We continued to talk about Abby’s conditions and benchmarks with Ben. Scratch that – Anthony talked. I was proud. It was obvious that he and Ben clicked. They understood each other as men. As husbands. As concerned fathers. We told him to hang in there. Ben thanked us for letting him visit, and asked us to stop by his wife’s room to talk to her, too.
We stopped by on our way out, introduced ourselves, and offered our contact information if they wanted to talk to us about our journey. Janelle asked me to please visit her the following week if I could. I visited the following Tuesday. While I simply intended to stop by and re-introduce myself, it turned into so much more. We talked for 2 whole hours! We simply clicked. Without even realizing it, I’d made a new friend. I told her I would visit her often. I planned on visiting her again the following week but I never got the chance. On Saturday afternoon, Janelle gave birth to a beautiful baby girl they named Taryn. While she had 2 days on Abigail (born at 24 and 6, where as Abby was 24 and 4), she weighed 4 ounces less and was about an inch shorter. But overall, she was at almost exactly the same place Abigail was, which was a good sign.
I’d only met Janelle twice. I’d only ever spoken to her for one afternoon. I’d never had any contact with her other than vocal communication. But when I saw her sitting next to Taryn’s Isolette that night, I ran right up to her and hugged her. She hugged me back. She told me all about her little girl. Such a proud Mama. I was so happy for her and happy that Taryn’s prognosis was good.
Taryn was almost exactly one month behind Abby. Janelle and Ben had a wonderful example of what was to come down the bend by watching Abby – both good and bad. They prayed for us. We prayed for them. We stood together as a NICU family when the twins passed away. Janelle and I were THOSE Moms…the ones that had to know everything about everyone. We made friends with the staff. We collected information about the other babies and compared notes so we could pray for them better. We were so obviously friends that the nurses were asking one of us when the other would be in next. They would come up to me and be DYING to share information on Taryn because they knew I’d want to know, but couldn’t because of HIPA rules. I can’t count how many times a nurse would ask, “Did you talk to Janelle today?” And if it was yes, I would divulge what I knew so they knew what we could talk about. And if the answer was no, they would pout and wander away. I would call or text Janelle from my Pod so we were always on the same page. She did the same with news of Abby. We joked that even though they never actually met, Abigail and Taryn were (and are) best friends.
Our bond was and is so strong. We were there for each other on a journey that so few understand, in a way that no one else could be. But as time went on, our paths started to stray from each other. As you know, Abigail was “The Amazing Abby” setting the bar and the example for the other babies. Taryn turned in the miracle fighter that beat every odd stacked against her. The obstacles came at Taryn like angry ocean waves. Infections, breathing problems, progressed ROP, the works! I prayed for my friend and her tiny angel daily, crying for their pain and worry, knowing all to well how it felt.
When it was time for Abby to come home, it was Janelle who was among the first to reach out to us, right along with our family. She brought us dinner that first week and still offers to help me if ever I need it. We are in constant contact (thank the Lord for things like text and facebook!!!). But Taryn’s rollercoaster ride is far from over. Over a month later and I am sad to report that she has to leave our little NICU family, but she needs more specialized attention. Taryn was transferred to UCLA today for more specialized care.
I am worried for my friend and her little girl. I am praying daily (still) that this all ends quickly and Taryn can go home to her loving parents and wonderful home. And as I try my best to be there for a woman, friend, and fellow Mom-of-a-micro-preemie I have to…HAVE TO… stop and thank God for Abigail. I talk to Janelle and hear the strain in her voice. I know that strain. And I can’t help but think, “That could have been us.” Abigail and Taryn had the same start. The same odds. And somehow, we’ve ended up and two different planets!
I am humbled by Ben and Janelle’s strength. I am proud of their perseverance and amazed at their faith. It is unwavering. And I am so blessed, both to have them in our lives, and to have Abigail by my side as I write these words.
I am calling out to all those who pray: Please join me and keep Taryn, Janelle, and Ben in your thoughts and prayers as they fight the good fight and wait with strength, faith, and baited breath for the day they get to bring Taryn home.
Ben and Janelle – hang in there. You are stronger than you know and God has you in his hands. This, too, shall pass and we will cheer Taryn and Abby on at their first ballet recital in a few years. Can’t wait!