I first got to know Stephanie two and a half years ago, when Mike and I had just received Hannah’s Spina Bifida diagnosis. We were introduced by a mutual friend who thought Stephanie might be able to offer us some unique compassion. Mike and I were in the throws of countless terrifying tests and consults with multiple specialists, trying to prepare for Hannah’s special needs care upon birth. We were scared. Overwhelmed. We felt alone. It was a time when no one knew “the right thing” to say to us. Some people didn’t even try, and found it easier to exit our lives. But others came out of the woodwork to offer support and love in whatever ways they could think of. Stephanie was one of those people. There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t find multiple emails from her in my inbox. Some were telling the story of their journey with their youngest daughter, Mary, who was born at 25 weeks and spent 5 harrowing months in Lurie’s NICU. Other emails offered tips about how to best navigate what we assumed would be our own NICU experience. How to talk to Eloise about what was happening with Hannah when the time came. Most of all, Stephanie offered me friendship and support, and a whole lot of hope. Because, as you can see from these photos, Mary is a miracle. She’s a perfect, sassy, funny, charming 4 year-old little girl who won an uphill battle against all odds that she will never remember. But her parents and siblings always will, and it’s a true testament to them that they’ve all come this far. MIRACLE.
I didn’t have the words to say how much I appreciated Stephanie’s compassion and friendship. So, I thanked her in the only way I knew how, and offered to take her family photos some time. I am thrilled she took me up on it! It was a blast to hang out with Tom, Audrey, and Mary in Lincoln Park last Sunday morning. Such a special thing for me to do for this lovely family.