The following is an essay that I wrote last fall, when Aaron was still a tiny little guy. I just thought that maybe some of you newer preemie parents would appreciate it. (The article was published in ePregnancy magazine in Feb 02)
This is what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve learnedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ all things are relative.
You see, I used to think that the 9 months of pregnancy was normal; 8-pound babies were normal; and hospitals were where you stayed for a couple days or when you had a heart attack or cancer. And that Ronald McDonald was just a clown that sold hamburgers.
But, since about last Christmas, I have been taught that a good pregnancy is one that ends with a healthy baby; a baby that finally reaches 4 pounds can look enormous; and hospitals can be a place that grows and nurtures a family until it can survive without tubes and hoses and oxygen and nurses. And Ronald McDonald provides a great place to eat, sleep, and live when none of those things is on your mind.
When I look at Aaron now, it is hard to look past the chubby cheeks and gassy smile to see the waif that they delivered from me 13Ã‚Â½ weeks ago. And when I see a picture of what he was then, I feel a sense of detachment. Could we have really dealt with all of that? Did we almost lose this precious little life? Did I almost succumb to a disease that many doctors donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even recognize? It must have been somebody else.
Now that I am back to work Ã¢â‚¬â€œ back to Ã¢â‚¬Å“normalÃ¢â‚¬Â life Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I have to make myself remember all of those minutes, hours, days, and weeks spent sitting by my sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bedside, watching him breathe and grow when I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even pick him up without advance permission from a nurse.
Somehow, the days flew by. Life revolved around visiting hours and bath times and weigh-ins, so then it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter that an 8 oÃ¢â‚¬â„¢clock bath meant that another day had passed. What mattered was that the weigh-in showed another positive gain.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another thing we learned. An ounce is very big. A gram is the measurement used to see if your son is big enough to be held; big enough to wear clothes; big enough to go home.
At this first regular pediatrician appointment, I proudly announced to the nurse AaronÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weight in grams that he weighed at discharge the Friday before. She looked at me so strangelyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I had to remember that this was the Real World nowÃ¢â‚¬Â¦grams were behind us.
Also, a fluid ounce is very big as well. A milliliter is the measure that determines whether the baby has to have a tube down his nose for another day.
Now, when Aaron almost finishes a bottle, but there is, maybe, an ounce left in the bottom, I recall the days when we had to hold a tiny bottle vertical to let the last tiny drop enter his little mouth. Because if we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, and the nurse wrote down Ã¢â‚¬Å“28mlÃ¢â‚¬Å“ instead of Ã¢â‚¬Å“30mlÃ¢â‚¬Â, it could mean that he would have to go back to tube feedings, and be yet another day away from going home.
I am happy for all of the parents out there who have an uneventful pregnancy, a Ã¢â‚¬Å“normalÃ¢â‚¬Â birth, and a healthy, full-term child. But when I look into AaronÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s big blue eyes, I have to think that all things are relative. For me, the fact that my son came home in 6 weeks, rather than 12, is incredible Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a miracle. The fact that at 3 months, he weighs 8 pounds 11 ounces is also a miracle. And one day, it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to matter that he was born in May, rather than July. What will matter is that he has parents and family and friends who love him and remember what he looked like and what he has accomplished, and they will be proud of him. You see, even if we were more scared when he was born than most parents are, we will also be that much more proud of him the first time he walks and talks and slides into home base.
All things are relative.
Sharel & Kevin
Aaron - 28 weeker
Born 5/2/02 due to preeclampsia & HELLP
Our miracle boy is doing great!!