As Gavin’s 6th birthday is quickly approaching, I’ve been giving thought to his birthday post. I always refer to him as our “miracle boy”, and it’s got the wheels turning.
Recently there was quite a heated discussion on the use of the term “miracle” on a preemie discussion board I belong to. The NICU Discovery Series show, which portrays later term preemies, had parents refer to their babies as miracles, and it put some of the mothers in quite an outrage. “How can they call these 4 pound babies miracles! Our 1 and 2 pound babies are the real miracles!” Since then I’ve been pondering my own meaning of this controversial, extremely personal word.
First off, let me say these are my opinions alone. They are not right, they are just how I feel, and I certainly don’t want to take away from how anyone else defines a miracle. I just find it an extremely interesting discussion point, and therefore an interesting topic for a blog post.
Not being a terribly religious person, I can only imagine that those of the more religious persuasion would argue that any and all children are miracles and blessings from God. I did a LOT of reading during my pregnancy, and all the things that have to go just right in order to a) even get pregnant and b) make it past the first trimester, not to mention full term, I would tend to agree. I would argue that a full term baby is the true miracle, that everything happened right as it should, when it should, when there are so many opportunities along the way for things to go wrong.
Our preemies were early. Something went wrong. Is that really a miracle? Yes, they fought for their lives. Most preemies these days survive, with a lot of medical intervention. Is that a miracle? Or just science? If their development and long term outcomes are within the statistical range of normal outcomes for that gestation – is that a miracle? Or just the way it works?
My favorite quote of all time on this discussion was in relation to a “miracle” being defined as an “exception”. Sarah, who has been through the micro-preemie ringer with her guy, said “if a 25 weeker was born breathing on his own, that would be the true miracle”. I second that. THAT would be something to see wouldn’t it! Otherwise, the breathing tubes, the surgeries, the intervention – that’s normal course for a baby born that early. Survival for preemies is not a rare thing these days, and therefore, perhaps, hardly a miracle.
How do I define a miracle? I believe there is miracle in transformation. In change. In becoming better. Gavin certainly did beat the odds, but it’s not like he left the hospital immune system intact, with no longer term issues just weeks after he was born. He followed the normal preemie protocol and we were lucky to end up on the better range of normal.
But Gavin transformed me, and that’s where I find the true miracle. I learned to give up control. I learned to trust others. I learned that sometimes it is necessary to lean on others, and not to be too proud to ask for help. I’m nicer, and more compassionate. I realize some fights aren’t worth the battle. I take pleasure in little things I may never have noticed before. I find myself doing nice things just for the heck of it, like complimenting a stranger on her hair or shoes, just to brighten their day. And it makes me feel good too. I don’t take anything for granted.
Most of all, I’ve taken my experience and used it to help others. My job pays the bill, but these days my passion lies in the volunteer work I do for the hospital. I hope to start a support system for women in high risk pregnancies and preemie parents in Central Iowa. I have had the opportunity to sit by the side of three moms of preemies while their babies were in the same NICU as we were and offer my support, advice, and experience.
Would I give up the better me so that Gavin wouldn’t have had to go through what he did? In a heartbeat. But I can’t change that.
I was selfish, narrow-minded, entitled, manipulative, and fairly mediocre as far as people go. I’m far from perfect these days. But I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way. For me, to go through that transformation, is the true miracle.
Gavin, may we never forget the miracles you have brought into our lives. After all, your rough start to life ought to be worth something, right? :)