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It takes a village

Now that I’m responsible for bringing a person into this world, I’ve been thinking about how I can make my baby’s new surroundings a better place.

No pressure or anything.

Much of the mainstream news I’ve been reading from our temporary home here in the NICU can be discouraging. I try not to allow the negativity to consume me, though. With the combination of social media, paparazzi and 24/7 cable news coverage, the headlines border on downright ridiculous. I personally don’t understand why that American dentist took it upon himself to kill a protected and beloved lion named Cecil. Or why mass shootings continue to be an epidemic in America. And why anyone cares about what the Kardashian/Jenner sisters wore to Starbucks yesterday.

I’m happy just to wash my hair every day.

Since Will was born, my priorities have drastically changed. I was admittedly somewhat of a pop culture addict. Before he enthusiastically came into the world, I might have been lured by click bait headlines regarding Kim Kardashian’s baby bump or which guy accepted the final rose on “The Bachelorette.”

I really hope my pre-mom self wasn’t as shallow as that sounds.

These days I’d rather read about the boy in Baltimore who was the world’s youngest recipient of the world’s first bilateral hand transplant. When I think of a hero, he comes to mind. What a brave little dude. I couldn’t even hear his story on the nightly news the other day without crying.

I hear that’s a sign of motherhood.

For me, inspiration comes in the form of the children who fight every day for their lives in the NICUs and pediatric hospitals. And through all the devoted nurses and doctors who have chosen professions to help the sick and save lives. Each day I come to sit next to Will’s bedside, I’m nearly brought to tears — oh, who am I kidding, I cry at least once a day — from the dedication I see from my son’s healthcare team.

They truly are angels.

I’ve also been taken aback by the sincerity and acts of kindness people from Colorado to Indiana have shown us during Will’s dramatic debut into this world. Both my and Steve’s parents have officially joined the ranks as the World’s Greatest Grandparents, an honor that will soon be recognized on coffee cups and matching T-shirts as Christmas gifts. They’ve been here for us in every capacity, from rushing to the hospital at 1 a.m. to welcome him to the world to holding his tiny hand whenever they can.

He is lucky to have so much grandma and grandpa love.

One great aspect of social media is the opportunity for us to share the sweet story of Will’s life with friends and family who can’t be here with us. I’ve received encouragement from a thousand miles away from moms and parents who have braved the preemie and NICU experience. The sharing of stories of all types has been reassuring and comforting for this first-time mom.

And yes, they have made me cry, too.

Just the other day, Steve and I were out to breakfast, and one of his co-workers came up to the table to see how Will was doing. In another sure sign of motherhood, I pulled out my cell phone and showed him some photos. As Steve went to pay for breakfast, the cashier told him his co-worker had taken care of it — a random act of kindness that reminded me that this world isn’t just the stuff in negative headlines or hyped-up news stories. This life can be everything we make it for Will and the other babies being born every day.

It truly takes a village — and some sincerity and kindness — to raise a child.

April E. Clark is getting used to hospital cafeteria food. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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