Close to a decade ago I was just old enough to be considered an adult but young enough to not truly understand what being an adult meant. In the way of slighted kids, who grow up hearing the worst words from the people meant to protect them, I was a little wild.
Not to shy away from statistics I, of course, found myself pregnant.
But this post isn’t about single mom-dom, or growing up, in a way, with your child.
This post is for the mom that I met in the hospital.
When I went into labor it was thirteen weeks too early. My child and I were immediately separated. I remained in one hospital for a very blurry three days and my child was whisked away to another that could care for a baby her size.
Months would pass with visits to a NICU unit firmly worked into my schedule. It was all overwhelming and I didn’t have a very good grasp on what being a parent was going to really mean. Visits in the hospital were spent staring into an incubator and occasionally being able to stick gloved hands inside. Nothing like what home life would become.
I was typical, in a time just before smartphones, I was still selfish and naive. I was a millennial without a way to broadcast my idiocy to the world.
Then, one day as I strolled down the hospital halls I passed a woman clinging to the rail and whimpering as she tried to walk.
Where was her family? Or did she have one?
Where was a wheelchair? There were none.
I started to continue on my way but something made me stop. I stared down the hall at her, bent over and crying as she shuffled along.
It would have been all too easy to just move along, wash my hands, don the gown and gloves; but her soft cries pushed at my mind and another force took over.
I went back for her.
I didn’t know where she was going but I didn’t care.
I slipped my arm around her and helped to hold her up as she walked. Through tears she explained that she was going the same way as me. To the NICU. Her c-section was still fresh, having only given birth a handful of hours before. She wanted to see her baby but there were never any wheelchairs. So she decided to make the walk.
Knowing the pain all too well I walked with her to the NICU, helped her get a gown and the gloves, before making sure the NICU got to her to her baby, ideally with a wheelchair.
People say becoming a parent is about sacrifice or that anytime you vow your life to another you are taking a path of sacrifice and compromise. It’s easy to lose yourself among the weeds on that kind of path. It’s easy to forget that you don’t have to give everything.
It’s also easy to forget to look around and realize when that sacrifice is needed. It took nothing for me to walk with her that day but she taught me an amazing lesson. In the time it took us to make it down the hall she taught me what being a parent was about. She taught me that sometimes the sacrifice is a lot and sometimes it’s nothing but that you will never know it’s needed if you don’t look up and recognize the lives of others around you.