16 weeks early, weighing only 1lb 8oz, he fought every minute to live. People say I was a blessing for him, but everyday I know he was sent here to bless us.
As I headed to work yesterday, November 17th, I was reminded that it was World Prematurity Awareness Day. As a nurse in the NICU, I witness miracles every day.
No miracle has ever touched me more than that hot June day when a tiny ’24 weeker’ was born. Brand new to nursing and to working with preemies, I was asked by the unit social worker if I would consider becoming the Primary Nurse for a baby boy, who’s birth parents were unable to care for him.
I was new, he was sick, and tiny. I went over to take a peek and right then I was captured. I agreed. For the next few months I cared for Dustin on all my shifts.
He fought everyday. Battled infections, lung damage and withdrawals. He was on a ventilator for 63 days. On oxygen for 91. And finally after the up and down battles that only parents and nurses of preemies can understand, it was time to think about discharge.
As it was clear that Dustin wouldn’t be going home to his birth family, the social worker came in to gather information for the search for a special needs foster home. I answered all his questions, how much therapy, how many medications, how many doctors? Jokingly the social worker said “you should just take him”.
No way! I was ONLY 22, I had only been married a few months. I was not ready to be a mother.
Then I got thinking. Is anyone ever really ‘ready’ to become a parent?
A few days later I made the call.
The next two weeks flew by. Dustin got moved to another hospital, I completed paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork. The social worker toured our home. The news came.
We were approved.
The next four days went by in a blink. Friends and family lovingly donated and gifted almost everything we would need for a newborn. Imagine, if you have children, how much there is to ‘get ready’. Most people have 9 months, we had 4 days.
Dustin came home, appropriately on Thanksgiving Weekend after 108 days in the hospital
We were told clearly. He might never walk, he might never talk. He would likely have vision problems and may even be blind. They said he had a 10% chance of ‘intact survival’ meaning without significant brain damage.
Where are we at today, 8 1/2 years later?
They were wrong.
I’m not going to lie and say its been easy. Dustin has seen more therapists and doctors in his first 8 years than most people would ever know existed. We worked hard, but in the end he is a miracle.
We were chosen as his parents and we were blessed.