I’ve kept a pregnancy/baby/toddler journal for Ryley since the first time we saw him on ultrasound……I used to write in a lot, but that was before we had Grace a year after Ryley was born, and before we had our third 2 1/2 years later. Now the entries are kind of few and far between……The NICU days are documented pretty frequently, almost everyday in fact. It’s not fun, but it’s definitely interesting and healing to go back and read the story of his birth and NICU stay, especially knowing the outcome of all those worries and fears. The other day, I wrote to him for the first time since September…..
I hear you giggle from the backyard as you play with your brother and a bottle of bubbles. It strikes me at the oddest times – that realization that we very likely could have lost you – that at any point from the minute I started bleeding until the day we brought you home, and even after, God could have decided to take you Home to Him. You are a miracle, corny as that may sound. You survived. Not only did you survive, you have thrived. No one would ever know to look at you that you were so premature. I think of all my friends with preemies – some of their children suffer so many different challenges from their prematurity – visual impairments to cerebral palsy to hearing loss and oxygen supplementation. Many of them have been, and continue to be, hospitalized multiple times. And I wonder why we have been so lucky. What happened for us differently that resulted in this miraculous outcome?Or is it just luck of the draw? Twenty six weeks is so early…..not as early as some, earlier than others. In my heart I believe you have some amazing purpose – maybe that’s as big as being a star athlete, movie star, President, or writer; maybe it’s just being a great kid and eventually a great husband and father. That doesn’t mean that I think you have more “purpose” than those who have fought and lost the battle…..their lives have more meaning than I could ever hope mine would have……
I still worry that something will pop up down the road – some result of your early beginning that we aren’t aware of yet. I’m always still watchful, still waiting for that proverbial shoe to drop and knock me on the head. I don’t know if that fear will ever go away. So I continue watching and waiting.
I look back at your pictures from the beginning and those early days in the NICU, and I read this book just to remind myself of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. I have a hard time believing you are the same little boy. But then I see that feisty fighter side of you come out, I see those fuzzy blond hairs on your neck like the hair that covered your tiny baby head, I see your hands curl into fists like they did in sleep from day one, I see some of the now-miniscule scars from the many iv lines you had, and I know you are he – you are that tiny, tiny baby who is on such a mission that you had to get a fourteen-week head start. And I am once again amazed.