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A Tale of Two Moms

Photograph by Getty Images/Caiaimage

We were 16 when Nicole got pregnant. Just four years earlier, we had declared to the world that we were best friends for life. Little did we know then that fraught pregnancies would be one of the most strongly binding events of our friendship.

Even in my young mind, I knew her pregnancy would change our lives forever, beginning with our dream to attend college together. Hopes of sharing a dorm room and chatting until the wee hours of the morning diminished as I envisioned her as a mother.

When she first told me about 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. So young and unable to see more than five minutes into my future, I was devastated, angry and confused about what Nicole's decision meant for her. Us. Me. Today it's clear to me I was sad our lives as we knew it would never be the same.

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Fast forward to six years ago, 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 is, 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 on the phone, 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 special-needs child. In the days that followed, I was driving to work when my cell phone rang. It was Nicole. 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.

I answered anyway.

All I remember is her sobbing and telling me, "This baby deserves to live." I pulled the car over as I listened to her petitions for my son's life. After my sobbing about shattered promises and unanswered prayers, she tearfully reminded me that the child I carried still had promise and was, himself, a prayer answered. We both bawled and shared our hearts, and I decided to move forward with the pregnancy.

On Feb. 2, 2007, I went into labor while eating a cheeseburger at Whole Foods. On Feb. 3, Nicole's birthday, my son Zion was born. It was a miracle! That difficult conversation we'd had months earlier, both of us searching awkwardly and tearfully for ways to say the right 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 12-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 that something regarding motherhood is impossible.

After 30 years of friendship, I can see that our experience at 16 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 mothers in spite of difficult circumstances.

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