As someone who tends to keep relatively to herself, I admit that I am usually mistrustful of people who approach me for a conversation because those that approach others are always trying to sell them something.
I suppose this is a pretty pessimistic way to view things. But these days, it’s the norm to go about your business and do your own thing in your own bubble.
However, I can definitely remember a significant and life changing conversation I had with a stranger, or rather a group of strangers, that changed my life.
Last year, I gave birth to twins that were eleven weeks premature. They had to stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital for many weeks. It was a difficult transition – being pregnant one day, then not. Going home without your babies. Leaving them in the care of others. Vital stats constantly being shown on monitors, ceaseless beeping of equipment, harsh hospital lights. In summary, it was tough.
No one really prepares you for this kind of thing, there isn’t an induction in how it all works. You just have to figure it out for yourself. It isn’t easy.
In the second week, one of the nurses told me there was a support group being held that day for parents of prem babies. She insisted I go. I was hesitant at first because my first instinct with anything is, ‘I can manage, I’m fine’. But I wasn’t managing and I wasn’t fine.
I felt an immense sense of relief when I met a handful of other parents in the same situation as me. We were all struggling with the same things. It was the first time, in a very long time, that I had a meaningful conversation with a handful of strangers. We talked about our fears, our hopes. We shared our experiences so far. We opened up our hearts to each other. Through unity came strength.
Lifelong friendships were born from this very first meeting. At the time, it was comforting and essential to have a friendly face or two, or three, or a dozen, when times were really tough. Now, as the months fly by, our babes grow bigger and stronger each day. We are the lucky ones who got through it all.
Today I am eternally grateful for the friends I made in the NICU. Without their support, I wonder if I would have made it through as sane as I did.
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