Abeer Al Otaiba asked for few things from Amy Baier in the first four-plus years the two were close. Theirs is a bond that fosters a natural, unspoken selflessness—as most female best-friendships do. They support each other, laugh together, take turns looking after one another’s kids (Baier has two boys; Al Otaiba has one son and one daughter), spend time braving Washington’s whirlwind social scene, and do their fair share of play dates, shopping, dinner-hosting, and girls’ nights out.
But when her daughter Samia, still a baby, needed lung surgery, Al Otaiba had one request: She asked Baier to be with her at Children’s National Medical Center during the operation. “There was nowhere else I would have been than by her side,” says Baier, whose older son, Paul, 6, had also undergone surgery at Children’s. “There is no greater pain than separating from your child as they head into the operating room.”
Matters of convenience go out the window, Baier says; when it’s your best friend, there’s no thinking twice.
“Amy was already at Children’s waiting for me on the morning of Samia’s surgery,” Al Otaiba says, “and she visited us everyday during Samia’s recovery, sharing her own experiences and constantly reminding me of our kids’ resilience. She was my rock; Amy is unflappable.”
This fall, it was Al Otaiba’s turn to be the tower of strength, as Paul endured his third open-heart surgery at Children’s. “She was there every single day,” Baier says, adding that her friend had the family’s favorite foods delivered to the hospital around the clock. “She sat with me, cried with me, she was truly spectacular.”
Both Samia, now one year old, and Paul are doing well, and their moms have resumed their regular activities—only now, their bond is stronger. Says Baier, “In a town like Washington, it has been a gift to find a friend that I can be totally authentic with and, at the same time, share something as rare as what we have been through with our children. To help each other is a daily occurrence; to help each other with something like this has been a blessing.”
Amy Baier and Abeer Al Otaiba are co-chairs of the Children’s Ball for Children’s National Medical Center on April 11. For more information, visit childrensnational.org.