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When Ryley was born (and even in the 16 days leading up to his birth), I wondered often why this was happening to us. We’d done everything we were supposed to do. Where had we gone wrong? I begged God for answers nearly every day as to why my child had to suffer so. I watched Ryley in anguish each and every day as he fought to survive.  I yelled, I cried, I prayed. I even became superstitious to a certain extent.  But behind it all was the question of the purpose behind prematurity touching our lives, for I knew there *must* be a reason. I *had* to make sense out of it. If there were no purpose, then there was no sense.

We have a few pat reasons we give the kids when they ask why Ryley was born too early.  One of them is that he knew he had to get out-of-the-way so Grace could come. If Ryley had been born when he was supposed to be, then Grace would not be here. We became pregnant with her the week after Ryley came home from the NICU. He was three months old, and his due date had JUST arrived.  We also say that Ryley has a lot to get done in his life, and he had to come three months early to get a head start.  These “reasons” are reasonable, and they also are humorous. Sometime humor does make things easier to deal with.

It will likely be years before we see any significant “purpose” in Ryley’s survival. I’m sure many moms dream of their children becoming the next President, a professional athlete, a successful business person. Those dreams are here. But I will consider  Ryley’s purpose in this world fulfilled if he lives a long, happy life in which he learns to be kind and to give back.  For now, I believe the purpose behind his survival is so we as a family can speak on behalf of the organization that helped save his life and raise awareness of the problem of premature birth.  I also firmly believe we are meant to reach out to families just starting this journey as well as those along the path to give hope, support, and encouragement. One of the silver linings (if I can call it that) of this situation is the many beyond-amazing people who have come into my life who have been touched by premature birth as well.

I don’t know the full purpose, or if there is even a bigger purpose behind Ryley’s early arrival. It may never be something so big and so distinct, we are able to say “A-Ha!”. I may be left wondering the rest of my life.  But he’s here. And I am so thankful. He brings joy to our family each and every day.  This child who loves so completely, empathizes so fully, offers hugs so genuinely…..If nothing beyond that, I know his purpose is fulfilled.

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