I’m in a Club of Amazing, Strong Women. We’re Called the Heart Mamas.

Dear newly diagnosed moms,

I know you. Well, I don’t know you know you, but I know you.

I’ve been you. You’re sitting there, scared to death, trying to put all of this new information into your brain. You’re trying to process how this is all going to work, how your new baby, currently growing away contentedly in your belly is going to come out and need to start fighting immediately. How he or she will have open-heart surgery at a few days old. Is that even possible? Most of all, you’re wondering how your baby will get through, how other siblings at home will fare, whether your marriage will survive… and how you will make it through.

I know you feel alone. We all did. But you’re not.

Somewhere along your journey, you’ll realize you’re not alone.

Maybe you’ll be waiting to meet your surgeon for the first time, and a mama in the waiting room will see your swollen belly and will approach you. She’ll tell you that the bright, thriving and busy boy running around the waiting room has the exact same heart defect as your unborn baby.

Maybe you’ll be watching your baby boy recover from his first open-heart surgery and you’ll see another newly postpartum mama being wheeled in to the bed next to you to see her brand new baby girl, also awaiting open-heart surgery. You’ll say “hi” and the tentative new bonds of friendship will begin.

Maybe it’ll be years later and you’ll be at the cardiologist’s office with your thriving little toddler and you’ll see a mom with a boy about the same age. You’ll strike up a conversation and find out not only does her son have a heart defect, but they live 5 minutes from you.

You’ll think all of these meetings are chance, just coincidences. But they’re not.

Someday, you’ll realize that these encounters, all of them, were there for you to meet your fellow heart mom, to be ushered into this amazing community of women.

Heart Moms. We love each other. A love borne out of shared adversity, of triumph.

We’re a crazy, usually way overly stressed out bunch. And we’re all different—but we have this in common. We have BIG hearts. And we’re scared most of the time. But we love each other and support one another unconditionally.

We visit one another in the hospital, to give hope and love—and sometimes just a cup of coffee or a smuggled-in bottle of wine. Or a confetti gun for a stir-crazy toddler.We text each other all the time. Sometimes little pictures of blue fingers and toes—are they too blue? Should I call the cardiologist?

And sometimes they’re so, so so much deeper. Our fears, our worries, the things that keep us up at night that must be shared. And sometimes they’re triumphs. The first word, the first step, the preschool graduation announcement. We meet up. We drink wine. Sometimes lots of it. And that’s OK. We laugh. Big, giant belly laughs. And we cry. Deep, heart-wrenching tears of fear and of loss. Sometimes in the same night. And that’s OK, too.

We’re all a part of this sisterhood of heart mamas. And we’re stronger, and braver, and better for our part in this sisterhood.

And you, newly diagnosed mama, are a part of us, too. You may not know it yet. But you are.

Because this is how we do it. Together.

This post originally appeared on Hope for Baby Bennet.

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