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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Internet Aunties

I have a team of angels working on behalf of my family and for Christian. They have prayed, they have sent us cards, they have lifted us up with their inspirational words, and they are now like an extended family.

I have to write a separate blog about these angels because they've made such a difference in our lives. Now there are many angels who've included family and friends, people I haven't seen for years have dropped by to see Christian and the overwhelming support has touched us.

But these angels are different. They're my August Mamas. I've tried to explain this group to those who have asked where this particular outpouring of support is coming from. When I try to explain, people mostly look a little puzzled but accept my explanation without much question..."a group on the internet did all this?" is what I know they're thinking.

I felt compelled to write about these angels on our last day in the PICU because since we first arrived, they've been such a strength to my son and my family. And they continue to amaze us with their generosity, comfort, and prayer. As far as we are considered, they are family. They are Christian's "Internet Aunties."

Eliisa, one of the group members, did such a wonderful job putting our group and it's definition into words. So it is with her permission to post her blog entry that I'm explaining this group through her beautiful words.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 is a day that the Quintero family won’t ever forget. That afternoon, 11-month-old Christian fell in the family pool and nearly drowned. His big brother Gabe pulled him out of the pool, and his mother Shauna frantically did CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Even at the hospital, they could not get a pulse, and Shauna was asked to come in and say goodbye to her little boy. During their last attempt to save Christian, Shauna touched her son’s leg, called out his name, and his heart started beating again! Amazing! Of course, this was not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a long, hard struggle for Christian and his family as he fights every day to survive and recover.
But they are not alone. The Quinteros don’t just have their wonderfully supportive family and friends surrounding them. In this spectacularly small world where any person is just a mouse click or keystroke away from another, the Quinteros also have hundreds of people all over the world praying for them and for little Christian. But how is this possible? How has Christian’s story reached so many in such a short time? Maybe I should start at the beginning.
In November/December of 2007, a group of about 100 women were meeting each other on an online message board. We had all just found out we were pregnant with babies due in August 2008. There were women who were expecting their first child, and those expecting their fourth. Women who had been trying for years to get pregnant, some who had gone through countless infertility treatments, and some who had gotten pregnant easily or even by “accident.” There were women who had lost previous pregnancies, even had to deal with stillbirth. We came from all over the US, Europe, and even Australia. We were as varied in personality and circumstance as any group could be, but we were united in our love of our August babies.
As the months went on, we grew closer. We were devastated when our numbers were diminished as some among us had miscarriages and lost their precious babies. We were thrilled when announcements of twins came, and when other women found us and joined in. We shared our joys, our fears, our aches, our pains, and our complaints about spouses who just “didn’t get it.” We became a family. As time went on, we posted pictures of our growing bellies, shared gender ultrasound results, and discussed baby names.
And then, all of a sudden, it seemed, it was June, and babies started arriving. Paige was first, born so early, and we all furiously prayed for her as she fought in the NICU, and celebrated when she went home. July and August brought a cascade of babies, birth stories, and pictures of beautiful, wrinkly newborns. Some babies even waited until September to make their appearances. But we were all still the “August Moms.” By that point, we’d been together 8-9 months.
Many so-called “due date groups” peter out after babies are born. Moms get busy, don’t have time to get online anymore, or just aren’t interested now that their due dates have come and gone. Not so for our group. If anything, we became stronger after our babies were born. Instead of Braxton hicks contractions and swollen ankles, though, we complained about sleepless nights and cranky, teething babies. Instead of feeling kicks or seeing sonograms, we cheered about rolling over, sleeping through the night, and first teeth. We shared pictures, stories, and even videos of our little ones, and became even closer. We started calling each other our children’s “Internet Aunties.”
Many of us became “friends” on Facebook, and continued connecting. We had “meet-ups,” where members met each other in person. Some continue to get together regularly. And we kept posting on our message boards daily, asking questions, sharing advice, and generally doing what friends do. We had found caring, loving, loyal, and true friends on the internet. I guess stranger things have happened.
Then, as we were busy reading through posts and updates about first steps, plans for birthday parties, and other fun things, tragedy struck. One of our precious August babies, little M, died suddenly in her crib during a nap. She was just over nine months old. We were horror-stricken. We all felt so deeply for M’s mommy, and hugged our children all the tighter as those awful “what ifs” ran through our minds. But the group banded together through our grief, and rallied around M’s family. We sent cards, remembrance gifts, and messages of love and support. While little M is gone, she will always be an August baby, and her mother will always belong in our group. We love and miss them so much.
Things were just starting to get back to “normal” after little M’s passing, and we saw Shauna’s update. Her beautiful boy Christian had fallen in the pool. He was in critical condition. She asked for our prayers. We didn’t know anything else. The group flurried into action. Messages were sent, updates shared, and panicked posts started about how Christian was doing. There were frantic pleas of “Not another August baby!” One of the August Moms called Shauna to check on him, and filled everyone in. We were so glad to hear that he was getting more stable all the time but dismayed that his situation was still extremely critical.
That’s when it started. People started posting updates about Christian on their Facebook pages as we got them. We posted about Christian’s situation, and how he, his big brother Gabe, his father Manny, and his mother Shauna (who is also pregnant with Christian’s little brother or sister, due next year) needed all the positive thoughts and prayers they could get. Friends of friends, acquaintances, and coworkers responded in droves. Everyone was touched and moved by Christian’s story, and the prayers and thoughts for the little fighter and his family started. And they haven’t stopped since.
Shauna started a blog called Christian’s Journey (
http://christiansjourney-shaunaq.blogspot.com/) to keep everyone up to date with the latest happenings in Christian’s world. It already has over a hundred official “followers,” and surely many more unofficial ones. I get messages all the time from Facebook friends asking how Christian is, and they’ve never met him or anyone in his family. Though, I suppose it’s a fact that I’ve never met Christian or his family either. But I know him, and I know them. I am his Internet Auntie, after all.
Christian has come so far, but he still has SO far to go. He just got a g-tube (for feeding) and a trach tube (for breathing) placed, and took his first breath on his own since the accident just yesterday. He is such a fighter! His parents are not deluded, though: they know they are in this for the long haul. Christian’s recovery is going to be lengthy and difficult, not to mention expensive. While they are, of course, devastated that their family has had to endure such tragic circumstances, they are hopefully comforted, at least somewhat, by all the people pulling for Christian.
There are those that condemn message boards and social networking sites like Facebook as frivolous time-wasters, not good for anything but gossiping, spying on old boyfriends, and sharing self-important status messages about what people had for dinner. But then there’s a case like Christian’s. Through the magic of the internet, Christian’s Internet Aunties have organized a worldwide network of positive energy, all aimed at Christian and his family. We know that they feel it, and that it’s helping. Here’s to that circle growing exponentially, and to Christian’s continued progress. We love you, buddy!


The August Moms group also sends handprints and joined together, they make a hug for Christian. Here's a picture...
We hung them in the window as more and more "hugs" arrived.


And yesterday, we finally completed the circle. These hugs will follow us to Phoenix.


And, thank you, Storms' family, for the "Miracle Baby" onesies. I love them and they're just perfect to wear as my miracle baby departs from the PICU. Thank you thank you thank you! And Jenny, Cici, Pam, and Makenzie, you are included in these "internet aunties" because if it weren't for the August Moms, I wouldn't have found you ladies and your beautiful and inspiring stories.

August Mamas, I do want you to know how much you guys mean to us. Manny and I both agree that as soon as things have calmed down and we are in the position, we can't wait to pay all of your generosity and selflessness forward. You guys are AMAZING!

On to the next journey...

24 comments:

ferfischer said...

I have a hard time describing how much my "internet friends" have meant to me on this journey as well. Eliisa did a wonderful job trying to put it into words. Now, I don't even think of my friends as "internet" friends, but real friends, and I have no doubt I will meet all of them in person some day, and when you do, it's like you've known each other forever! They will always mean a lot to you, and being support for you is part of my way of paying it forward for all the help that I got. I know you will do the same. Knowing you're not alone for someone going through this is so important. Never underestimate the power of "internet friends" - they are REAL people too! :)

Eliisa said...

We LOVE you, Shauna! Some day we'll all meet and our kids will play. I can't wait!

JoKo said...

I'm a Sep/Oct "internet" Mama and this couldn't sum it up better. Just wanted to let you know that I think about and pray for your family and for Christian every day!

Bianca said...

That picture of Christian with the "hugs" shows it all. What a great network of 'aunties'!! I can't wait to hear how it goes in Phoenix.

Christy said...

We love u guys so much:)Beautiful words Eliisa!Callie sends more hugs and kisses:)

Shirley said...

We love you guys! Hope the hugs keep Christian nice and snuggly during the move to Phoenix! XOXOXOXO, little man!

Cassie said...

We love you! Hope the trip to Phoenix goes smoothly!

mteisan said...

I have also had a hard time explaining the "August Moms" to everyone. People just look at me with a puzzeled look on their faces. Not one person can understand our bond nor do I expect them too, however Eliisa couldn't have described us any better.

We love you Shauna, and your family. LB sends huge hugs and kisses to Christian. XOXOX.

Carol said...

I'm a Jan 06 and a Feb 09 mom on FF and saw your story posted on both of my groups. I have kept up with your story and am so happy to hear he is progressing. Best of luck to your growing and wonderful family. There are so many that you don't even know about praying for you.

samz24 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kiera said...

People look at me like I am crazy that I have such an amazing group of friends that I have met through the internet. Seriously.....you guys are the BEST!! Shauna this post has brought me to tears! We love you and your family! Cant wait to meet you when you are up and settled in Phoenix!! Hopefully Marlee will be able to tag along to meet you and Christian too :) We are here for you anytime you need us!!

mickeygmg said...

I am from fertility friends also. I belong to a group called East Coast Girls. A few of the memebers are also part of your august group. I have always had a hard time explaining the kinship shared with internet friends, but I think more of my friends are starting to understand. I have told them of Christian and they have been praying with me, they are anxious to hear of his strides and are finding themselves caring for this little man they have never met. I will continue to think of and pray for Christian, you, manny and gabe.

maz said...

Aaaawwwww.....I love seeing Christian surrounded in hugs! XOXOXOXOXOX

Carrie & Jason +3 said...

Awe! Big hugs to you!!!

Gabriella said...

I'm proud to be a member of this group! Hugs to you and your family Shauna, I hope the transition goes well.

dawnfirstclass said...

I'm a July 08 mama and I'm proud to be a part of the Summer 08 mama's group!
Shauna - I think about you and your baby boy every single day. Your updates are full of hope...you are so amazing! You will continue to be in my prayers until I see that baby boy of yours running around!

Melody said...

I immediately teared up and got chills reading your sweet post with Eliisa's special words. I'm so happy to be a part of such a lowing group of women. :)

Shauna, Jimmy, Sophie, and I all send you and your family hugs and kisses from TN. We think about you and your family each day and pray for hristian's continued progress!

Caroline said...

I sat at our table reading your post and it made me cry too! We love you guys so much! We just want the absolute best for Christian. This is hard for all of us to go through, I can't even imagine what you feel like! You are truly amazing!

Amanda said...

Aww Shauna We love you, Christian and your family!!! I love the pic with Christian and his "hugs":)

Suzanne said...

I teared up reading this too. I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing group of women and to have the pleasure of knowing you. We love you and Christian so much!

Mel said...

Such a great post. Sums it up perfectly. We are close. We are a family. We all care for each other and I can't say that my real life friends know me or Jaxon any better than you guys do. We share so much on our board. It has gotten me through my pregnancy and the first year of my son's life.

I am so glad you liked the onesies Shauna. They just screamed Christian's name and I had to get them. I love the picture of him in it with all of our little August babies' hands hugging him. Makes me tear up just looking at all the love surrounding our little miracle baby. He is amazing. AND we are always here for you all because that is what we August Mamas do and you would do the same in an instant. :)

Lots of hugs from the Seattle area. XOXOXO

Kyles said...

I am a Feb 09 mum on FF and have closely followed Christians story. We are all cheering, crying, and smiling along with you, and continue to wish your gorgoues boy a great recovery!!! He is doing fantastic and you are truly an amazing mum! I read this daily and am always floored about how strong you are! Just what your precious boy needs! xxxxxx from Australia!

Sarah said...

I am an May 08 internet momma that is connected to your August 08 Momma's because of the twins we had in another support group!! You are soo lucky to have so many wonderful aunties rally around you and your family!!

Thanks for the constant updates! You and your family are amazing and I already know will continue to do do amazing things!!

All the best on this next leg of your journey!
Sarah

BunBun said...

I immediately got teary eyed when I read Eliisa's beautiful post and the pictures of our hands hugging Christian. I'm so thankful to be part of the August Moms.

Christian story has touched so many lives and I have friends and colleagues who ask about him all the time. We're all pulling for you!

Love & Hugs,
Alice & Kayla

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