From time to time when Dr. J has been on call overnight, I’ll pack up the kids and head over to the hospital for a visit. Little M gets some much needed Papa time and Dr. J gets to take a break from a very long shift.

So, this last night after grabbing an ice cream bar from the cafeteria, we headed for the atrium. While Little M enthusiastically tried to fill her Papa in her day’s events and stuff her mouth full of ice cream at the same time, I took in the sights.

A few couches over sat a women clearly going through a contraction. Rubbing her back and muttering into her ear was a very nervous looking, soon-to-be Dad. Very discreetly I kept watching, a smile stretching across my face as I remembered being in that exact same position only eight months ago. Even after the contraction finished you could feel their nervousness mixed with anxiety. They were not smiling; that would come later. But, they were clearly supporting each other. Soon, they got up and slowly walked over to another set of couches where the cycle repeated.

I then glanced over to the strange, dandelion-like fountain in the center of the atrium and there I saw a mother holding a young boy wrapped in a white blanket close to her chest. I could only tell it was a boy because of the spider man pajamas since he was very pale and had no hair. Next to them was a rather large IV. One by one he was taking pennies out of a Ziploc back and throwing them in the fountain. The mother was laughing as she rocked her little boy and repeatedly rubbed him as if he were chilled.

Suddenly my thoughts drifted from new life to sickness and for a split second I allowed myself to feel what it must be like to be that mother and it made my eyes water and the hair standup on the back of neck. I looked away quickly and gathered my thoughts. It is too uncomfortable and just downright unfathomable for me to even ponder.

So there was my family, sitting between these sights: two women struggling for the life of their children, unsure what the next day will bring. Three of us mothers, doing the best we can for our children in all our different phases. This is truly the toughest job in the world.
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