We were 16 when Nicole became
pregnant. Just four years earlier, we had declared to the world that we were
best friends for life. It turned out that the coming of babies would be one of
the most strongly binding events of our best friendship.
Even in my young, 16-year-old mind I knew her pregnancy
would change our lives forever, beginning with our dream to attend Spellman
College together. And so the hopes of sharing a dorm room and chatting until the wee hours
of the morning evaporated as I envisioned her becoming a mother...
When she first told me of her pregnancy, I, fancying myself
the fixer of broken things, started planning her abortion. She was frightened,
and we were both scared of what might happen if her parents, who were devout
Christians, discovered our plan. The night before we were to go to the clinic, however,
Nicole called to tell me that she had told her parents. Then, so young and
unable to see more than five minutes into my future, I was devastated, angry,
and confused as to what Nicole’s decision meant to her, us, me. Today it’s clear to me that I was ultimately
sad that our lives as we knew it would never be the same.
Fast forward to just six years ago, and many years after
Nicole had her baby, my husband and I were expecting our first child. We had
just experienced a miscarriage, so we were particularly excited and hopeful
about the pregnancy. That was until we learned from our geneticist that our son
would likely have Down syndrome. I think I self-destructed that day. The sound
of the geneticist’s voice, the lights above my desk at work, and me down on all
fours sobbing is forever cemented in my memory.
After that call I was inconsolable, and scared to death. The
thought of terminating a pregnancy that I had planned and prepared for seemed
impossible, but so did raising a child with Down. In the days that followed, I
was driving to work when my cell phone rang. It was my best friend Nicole, and
I didn’t want to talk with her and tell her my news. I didn’t want to hear what
I knew she would say, considering I was thinking about aborting. I answered
anyway. She and I recall the
conversation that followed very differently. All I remember is her sobbing to me, “This baby deserves to live.” I
pulled the car over as I listened to her petitions for my son’s life. I was some
what enraged that she had taken it upon herself to override my feelings and my
process. She insists that after my sobbing about shattered promises and
unanswered prayers that she tearfully reminded me that the child I carried
still had promise and was, himself, a prayer answered. No matter the recollection, we both bawled
and shared our heart and I decided to move forward with the pregnancy.
On February 2, 2007, I went into labor while eating a
cheeseburger at Whole Foods. On February 3, Nicole’s birthday, my son Zion was
born. It was a miracle! That difficult conversation we had months earlier, both
of us searching awkwardly and tearfully for ways to say the right things,
suggest the best things, and believe the greatest things, had, in some way,
saved his life, and he had come on her birthday to show his appreciation.
After delivering Zion, 20 years after Nicole delivered
her first son Ryan, I realized that the bond between two best-friend moms can
be magical and timeless. It’s as if the shared experience of motherhood has
helped us transcend our human connection to discover a purpose greater than
anything our twelve-year-old selves could have imagined.
When Zion came home from the hospital, it was my best friend
who flew to be by my side. She gave him his first bath, set up his bedroom, and
assured me that I could handle what was to come. And today she is the one I
call or think of when I feel something regarding motherhood is impossible.
After 30-years of friendship I can see that our experience
at 16 years-old became somewhat of a do-over at 36. Again my fear
was leading me toward abortion. However her courage led us both toward a deeper
love for one another and a shared experience of becoming mother in spite of
difficult circumstances. This is a tale of two girls who allowed obstacles
encountered in motherhood to make them into women.