When I was pregnant with Peyton, my cousin Erica was also expecting her first child, a little girl, due at the end of September.
This probably conjures up images in your head of the two of us hanging out, shopping for tiny clothes and celebrating our impending babies' births together, which of course is how it should have been, but our situation was a little more complicated. The truth of the matter is that because of some "stuff" that isn't worth mentioning here, our families hadn't spoken for about 15 years, and neither Erica nor I were aware of each other's pregnancies.
A few weeks after Peyton was born, and while we were entrenched in her battle with Leukemia, Erica gave birth to a baby girl, Faith Margaret, a little miracle born with HLHS. HLHS is a congenital heart condition that essentially leaves Faith living with half of a heart and eventually requiring a transplant, and one which is complicated further by an even rarer issue that Faith has with narrow veins. What are the odds? Two cousins, both new mothers to amazing little girls born the same month, and both watching our daughters fight for their lives. The irony goes even further. Erica has the same name as one of the infants that our grandmother lost, a baby girl whose birthday I share.
A few months after Peyton's death, in a move I could never have anticipated (or would have expected), Erica reached out to offer me her condolences, throwing open the lines of communication between us via Facebook and email at first, and finally resulting in us sitting down to talk in person. Ours was a near instant connection, not because we are related, but because we just "click" in the way that one does with their very closest of friends. We "get" each other. Our journeys are different, my little girl is gone, hers is still here, but we share the experience of loving children with congenital issues, and can joke with each other in a way that only comes from having faced the unimaginable. In an ironic twist, and one that has not been lost on me, these amazing little girls have brought us together to support one another through our journeys, and we have forged a beautiful friendship.
Erica is a wonderful mother to Faith. Her outlook is one of unwavering optimism, ever thankful of the blessing that God has granted her in her little girl, and when in her presence, you can't help but find her upbeat attitude contagious. I am so grateful for our friendship. As difficult as it is for me to be around little babies, it has actually been therapeutic to watch Faith as a little miracle in making, her progress against the odds helping to restore my faith in the power of prayer once again.
Faith is currently in the hospital with pneumonia, her recovery complicated by her HLHS and small veins. A trip to the pediatrician last Wednesday has, thus far, resulted in a week long hospitalization, and the news I received today is that she has quite a few days left in her stay. This little girl has already endured and overcome so much, open heart surgery, catheterizations, multiple hospitalizations, and with this week's pneumonia, Faith has also had to have her chest tubed and drained of fluid; all of this occurring over the course of her first birthday. Please visit Faith at her blog here and offer Erica, Faith (and, of course, Daddy Billy too :) ) some support and prayers to help them overcome this latest obstacle.
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