It’s hard to believe our time at Harvard Business School is coming to an end and that an impending move and graduation is creeping into view. When I think about our little family that moved to campus in August 2019, a week before our daughter Adeline’s first birthday and the first day of class for my husband, Austin, so much has changed. She wasn’t walking, was saying just a few words, and had no concept of friendships. She has quite literally “grown up” on this campus; she took her first steps here, celebrated her birthdays here, learned to talk and communicate, discovered how to make friends and to be part of a group, and most recently realized how to share her wonderful little world with a baby brother. Becoming a family of four here has made me forever grateful for the HBS family community and keenly aware of how special these last two years have been.

Our son Wilson was born six weeks early, just like his sister. While this was on our radar, having a premature baby isn’t quite something you can plan for. The only thing that quieted my mind at night was knowing we’d been here before and that we had an amazing support system of family and HBS families to call on for help. While I was anticipating how helpful this community of moms would be to ease the logistical challenges of an early, quick delivery without family in town, I greatly underestimated how important their emotional support and friendships would be through our second stay in the NICU.

In total, Austin and I have spent twenty days in the NICU watching our babies become strong enough to come home. All of our first interactions have been tangled with cords and closely watched by wonderful nurses as we grew the confidence to care for our tiny miracles. Thankfully, both Adeline and Wilson are healthy and thriving, and these days are now just a part of their stories. Going through this journey the first time was scary and unfamiliar. Going through the same process a second time, with a child already at home, came with a new set of challenges and emotions to process. These feelings are hard to put into words and like so many of life’s situations, hard to fully relate to unless you’ve been there. But I tried to explain what my heart was feeling to a group of moms, and the best way I could describe it was every feeling of being a parent, crammed into a couple of weeks. These weeks should be full of bliss and joy, and while they still were, they were also clouded with heavy emotions and loud thoughts: worrying about a sick child, comparing two kids and their abilities to meet milestones, having unrealistic expectations, juggling having to be in two places at once, taking care of yourself while also taking care of others, advocating and asking questions, making tough decisions, spending nights under separate roofs, and longing to have your whole family together. These are feelings and actions that come with the territory of motherhood, but I wasn’t prepared to experience them so soon.

The amazing moms who have turned into dear friends helped to soften this reality. They reminded me of my own strength and became my personal cheerleaders. They were there without being asked and were constantly checking in, in the midst of their busy lives and own challenges. They were understanding on the days I’d pass them outside on the way to the hospital, unable to muster anything but a wave, and sent me the “You’ve got this” look without expecting anything in return. I now understand the importance of asking for help, accepting help, offering help, and recognizing that “helpful” help looks different for everyone. HBS attracts high-caliber people with strong values and I have experienced the moms here to be at the top of this class.

As much as we may wish this community could go on forever, our time here is up. We are all getting ready to go our separate ways and move all over the world, entering new communities and forced to make new friends. This picturesque, family-friendly, safe environment is truly one of a kind and one of great privilege to experience. It has set the highest standards for the type of community and kinds of people I want to continue to raise our family around. I am walking away with invaluable family memories and friendships that are rooted in the deep love of being a mom. I know I am a better mom because of my time spent here.

Read more about Emelia’s experience here.