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When Amanda Cobb and Jayme Hughes met in 6th grade at Graham Middle School in Mountain View they became fast friends. But it wasn't until their freshman year in high school that the two realized the very special bond they shared: they were one another's first friends in our hospital’s Intermediate Intensive Care Unit.
“The girls laid side by side in the IICU for about three weeks,” recalls Jayme’s mom, Sheri Hughes. “John and I became friends with Jennie and Mike (Amanda’s parents) over our shared experiences.”
Amanda’s due date was February 4, but she was born premature on New Year’s Eve 1996. “We had plans with our friends that night, and when we messaged them that I was in labor, it was so early that they thought we were playing a practical joke on them,” remembers Amanda’s mom, Jennie Cobb. “They had to track us down at the hospital before they believed us.”
But the joys of being a first time parent to a beautiful newborn quickly faded as the seriousness of Amanda’s condition set in. She had developed a respiratory infection and they were told there was a strong possibility that she may not make it.
“The nurses in the NICU proved to be the most incredible, caring, patient, knowledgeable, empathetic people,” Jennie says. “They educated my husband and me on all the vitals they were monitoring, how to interact with her even without being able to touch her, and encouraged us to take photos of her despite her situation.” Although they knew Amanda was in the best care possible, the pain of leaving the hospital with nothing more than a balloon that said “It’s a Girl!” was heart wrenching.
By two weeks old however, Amanda had stabilized and was moved into the IICU, right next to Jayme’s incubator.
“Mike and I were clueless on how to care for a newborn, let alone a newborn with health issues. When it came time to change Amanda’s diapers, Mike and I would do our best with all of the leads in the way and alarms going off,” Jennie laughs. “Jayme’s grandpa would just sit there, rocking in the rocking chair, chuckling at us. As a seasoned grandpa, he was amused at our challenge to change a simple diaper. That’s still one of my best memories of that whole ordeal!”
When the girls were finally discharged from the hospital, the families exchanged contact information. They continued to send holiday cards but lost touch after a few years.
Then one day, Jayme invited Amanda and a group of other friends over to her house after school. By now the girls were freshmen in high school. It was then that Sheri saw Amanda (for the first time in fourteen years) and realized that she was the same sweet girl that had been her daughter’s first friend.
“It was so amazing to be looking at this beautiful young lady (Amanda), and realize that the two of them had not only ended up at the same school together, but they had become very close friends.”
Today, Jayme is an incredible athlete and Amanda a talented thespian. This past June, the two both graduated from Mountain View High School and set off on their new journeys, Jayme to University of Southern California and Amanda to University of Puget Sound. Their parents couldn’t help but shed tears of joy as the girls posed for photos together.
“What was undoubtedly the scariest time in my life came full circle when we watched them graduate together. I couldn’t believe that we all made it through that challenge, had found comfort in each other, and that the girls reconnected in a very special friendship that will last forever.” Sheri continues, “When they say it takes a village to raise a child, I know that feeling first hand—from the nurses, the doctors, and our special friends, I am so eternally grateful for the expert care we received at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.”