Charlotte turning 2 was no ordinary birthday celebration.
She was born three months prematurely, weighing about the same as eight sticks of butter. Everything we take for granted in a full term, healthy baby, from breathing to eating, was a steep uphill battle as she fought for her life.
Charlotte’s mom, Vicky, is one of my closest childhood friends and I watched, feeling helpless in those scary first minutes, which grew into tenuous hours, as we waited for any teensy bit of good news, until finally hours graduated into challenging days and eventually into weeks when glimmers of hope grew stronger. Those glimmers were the embers used to spark a fire of a love so strong and powerful, it fueled the milestones needed to get home.
Mom and daughter – you would be hard pressed to find a stronger team. Finally, the day came when Charlotte was placed in the car and brought home, where folded blankies, soft stuffed toys, and pink girly dresses had been waiting for her arrival.
It was still a lot of work – visits to specialists, appointments with CHOC, and therapies, but with time, Charlotte’s abundant curls and sassy personality emerged, and today she is a beautifully stubborn 2-year-old who loves books, playing at the park and singing and dancing along with her favorite TV show, “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
This was the second time Vicky had to care for a premature baby, as Charlotte’s older brother, Everett, was also born frighteningly premature.
I was surprised to receive the following e-mail from Vicky on the morning of Charlotte’s second birthday. It was written to three of us, all friends since first grade. Women, going through life’s joyous and dark moments in lockstep.
“2 years ago today I lay stunned in a hospital bed just delivering Charlotte.
I had arrived again at the door step of hell not knowing if I was coming or
going. For almost 5 months I cried I cheered I hoped and I failed all with
you ladies by my side. Like true soldiers you ladies fought by my side for
every medical victory Charlotte won.
Today my mornings look like a picture out of Parenting magazine, the article
about being a haggard mom, and the terrible twos. All good and easy problems to have.
You are true soul sisters and were there when I was at my darkest hour.
Thank you. May I always be able to comfort each and every one of your when
need be. I love you ladies. Thank you again!!!!”
The letter, beautiful and raw, embodied everything I love about my dear friend. Gratitude is her constant companion. I am adopting a line of her letter as my new motto. “All good and easy problems to have.”
Vicky knows as she enters the terrible twos, how fortunate she is to watch her daughter tantrum in public or go through the trials of potty training.
When everyone is healthy, it is easy to become lackadaisical and lose perspective. When parents have the luxury of complaining about the batting order, they have forgotten their son or daughter is just lucky to be in the game. When parents grumble about the quality of their child’s school picture, they have forgotten he or she is lucky to be in school. We are all guilty as charged.
“All good and easy problems to have.”
Adopt this mantra and watch your stress melt away and your gratitude grow.