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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.
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.
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.