Personal Stories from Our MembersRead about our own preemies of all ages. If you would like to share your preemie's story email us one or two pictures and a short description of your preemie experience to email@example.com.
Born at 25 weeks gestation or less
Nathaniel's Story - born at 24 weeks
I planned on having a holiday a baby since Nathaniel was due on the 4th of July. But, I didn’t know he’d arrive on another holiday altogether – St. Patrick’s Day! I went in for my 24 week checkup and although I’d felt very tired everything seemed okay. I went on a business trip to Richmond when I started having some slight bleeding. I came back on Tuesday night and went into the doctor’s Wednesday morning. I thought I would be told to go on bed rest – much to my surprise they said I needed to go to the hospital – by ambulance – because I was five centimeters dilated already. Due to an incompetent cervix I hadn’t realized I was dilating at all. I made it through two days of bed rest but Nathaniel’s umbilical cord had dropped dangerously low so I had an emergency C-section.
Nathaniel arrived at 1 pound 12 ounces and 12 inches. Amazingly, he had enough strength to utter a cry when he was born. This was the start of 4 ½ months in the NICU and two surgeries. Nathaniel did not have any one severe problem – but he had several serious one related to respiration, stomach infections, hernias, reflux, and vision. It seemed like when one cleared up another started causing problems.
Nathaniel came home at 7 pounds with a breathing monitor. It was a long round of visits to specialists every few days to monitor his progress. He narrowly missed needing laser surgery on his eyes. We’ve worked with occupational, physical, and speech therapists to conquer low muscle tone and sensory integration issues. It took him a while to meet milestones but once he did he caught on quickly! Although the majority of people can’t discern any developmental problems with Nathaniel as he gets close to his fourth birthday we are still keeping up with occupational therapy.
I am most amazed by Nathaniel’s pleasant nature and affinity toward adults, especially teachers and doctors. I think he realized early on that all of the people we’ve met have been there to help him. I definitely appreciate every milestone he achieves. In fact I’m sure a few people think I’m crazy when I say how glad I am he is jumping on my bed singing silly songs at the top of his lungs!
Jack's Story - born at 24 weeks
"You would never guess!" is what most people say when they meet Jack for the first time. That's a wonderful exclamation to hear when people learn about his very rocky beginning.
It began when we heard these terrifying words from the technician at our 21-week routine sonogram-"Uh oh". My cervix was two centimeters dilated and the baby was in danger of immediate miscarriage. I was rushed to INOVA Fairfax Hospital and placed on inverted bedrest in the High Risk Perinatal (HRP) Ward. A risky cerclage operation closed the cervix and we settled into a routine, fully expecting to deliver a healthy baby, months away.
But, the contractions continued. At 24-weeks gestation, Jack was born on March 20, 2001. He weighed 1 lb 13 oz, but quickly lost about half that weight. Ventilators helped him breathe, tiny wires fed him and a host of monitors gave us constant feedback on his vital signs. His eyes didn't open until two weeks passed, but when they did, I almost wished he didn't have to see the bright lights and frenetic activity all around him.
We wanted to believe so desperately that Jack would survive, even though the probabilities were slim. The stress of existing in the NICU pulled at us-alarms rang constantly and we waited apprehensively for each x-ray result. After a month, we were finally able to hold Jack for the first time. He had a full head of soft blonde hair, and weighed two pounds then, the size of a small puppy.
He suffered numerous infections, causing him to bounce on and off the ventilator during his long stay in the NICU. His tiny intestines shut down after attempts at feeding, and ultimately, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) caused half his colon to be removed. His eyes suffered as well, and both were operated on for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
And then, 101 days after he was born, Jack came home! His homecoming was both joyful and traumatic for us, as we learned to care for him on our own. The rounds of therapy began almost right away, and continue today. Initially, we battled severe reflux and feeding problems. Now we face unseen problems like socialization and sensory issues. But, Jack is a bright and cheery 3-½ year old who amazes us with his language ability and his sense of humor. Each giggle reminds us to be thankful that he is here at all-our Miraculous Jack!
Alex's Story - born at 25 weeks
In Sept 2002 we found that we were pregnant. Two months later my problems began. I was in and out of the hospital each week and the problem could not be pin pointed. At 17 weeks I began having contractions and by 21 weeks I was in full labor and admitted at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. I was told I would remain there for some time, but much to our surprise four weeks later my labor could no longer be held off. After 96 hours of active labor my water broke and I developed an infection and the labor was allowed to progress. At 5:59am on March 11th, my son Alejandro Luis, came into this world weighing less than two pounds at 25 weeks gestation. He was immediately whisked to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and I didn’t see him till about 12 hours later. I was scared to death, I didn’t see how that tiny baby could possibly make it and the thought of losing my baby was unbearable.
However after three months, several procedures, severe jaundice and anemia, 7 blood transfusions and learning how to suck swallow and breath, my little boy came home on monitors but healthy.
He is now two years old and is a happy and healthy, crazy, active toddler. He “welcomed” his baby sister home in August of 2003 and is usually a proud big brother. Alex is in Early Intervention and received Occupational and Speech Therapy and received nutrition services. We are dealing with several issues like feeding and speech development. He also has what appears to be mild seizures that are still being evaluated. But over all he is my perfect miracle baby boy. We are so happy and lucky to have him in our lives.
Born between 26 and 30 weeks gestation
Ethan's Story - born at 26 weeks
Already raising two healthy sons, who are growing like weeds, we were so excited to find a third was on the way. I actually had a pleasant pregnancy. The severe nausea and sickness I experienced with my two previous pregnancies was much less severe this time around. I really enjoyed being pregnant! We were old pros at this, and waiting for April when our beautiful baby boy would be arriving. Little did we know that he would be here much sooner than we expected.
Going in for one of my regular checkups, feeling absolutely fine, my OB found my blood pressure was very high and that I was "spilling 2+ protein". Not really understanding what this meant, I made my way to INOVA Fairfax Hospital's Antenatal Testing Clinic for more tests. I soon found out that I had developed preeclampsia and was to be hospitalized on complete bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I couldn't believe it! It was December, and my baby wasn't due until April!
Using the Internet access that was provided to patients in the hospital, I quickly did some research and found that the cause of preeclampsia is relatively unknown and the only cure is delivery of the baby. Because I was only 23 weeks into my pregnancy, we were hoping to delay delivery for another several months. After the initial shock wore off, I began to settle into life in HRP (the High-risk Perinatal Unit).
My parents packed up and came here to help my husband take care of the kids while I was in hospital. We celebrated my oldest son Lucas' birthday on Christmas Eve, and even arranged to have Santa 'deliver' our Christmas morning gifts to my hospital room, instead of our house, so we could celebrate the holiday together.
All through this, I stayed glued to my bed, lying on my left side to reduce the amount of stress on the placenta as much as possible. I really didn't believe that my baby would be born early. I didn't want to take a tour of the NICU or even read the literature that a NICU physician gave me... I was in complete denial. Unfortunately, this didn't alter the facts. Even after all our precautions, only three short weeks later, my perinatologist came to tell me that my sweet baby boy would need to be delivered the next day in order to give him a chance. He was no longer receiving enough nutrition through his umbilical cord and had not grown in the last 3 weeks that I had been there. I was devastated! We hadn't even chosen his name yet... We tried our best to remain calm while deciding to name him 'Ethan' since it's meaning is "strength". We had to believe that he would be strong enough to survive his upcoming ordeal. Ethan was delivered the next day by c-section at 26 weeks gestation. He arrived at 1 pound 10 ounces, and was only 12 inches long, about the size of his daddy's hand.
Ethan coded seconds after being born, and the NICU physicians and staff worked hard to resuscitate him. Thus began his 142-day stay in the NICU. He was placed on an oscillator high-frequency ventilator for the first week of his life. When he was just 6 days old, he began severe hemorrhaging in his lungs and coded again. I'll never forget seeing his struggle and watching him turn blue before they whisked us from the room. Later, his neonatologist came out to tell us that they were able to bring him back, but she was teary-eyed as she could not give us many hopes for his survival. In fact, she encouraged us to make a call to our pastor and arranged to have him baptized immediately, since he wasn't expected to live for more than a few hours. Surprisingly, he held on and stabilized through the night. The staff kindly made special arrangements for a room for us to sleep in and stay overnight there at the NICU with him.
The next day, Ethan underwent open-heart PDA surgery to help stem the flow of blood to his lungs and give him a chance. He was such a fighter, he came through that surgery with flying colors! We had one more scare the next day, when he began hemorrhaging in his lungs and coded again. They decided to change out his ventilator to a Servo positive pressure type and got him stabilized. He remained on this vent for 6 more weeks. Weaning him from the vent seemed to take forever, and our lives revolved from one blood gas to the next. For the few times when I wasn't by his side, I would call every few hours to check on his status, even throughout the nights. I remember having to ask how many times they had needed to "bag" him, since he consistently would need this extra help over and above the ventilator, to keep his oxygen to acceptable levels. I learned the significance of the volume and pressure settings on his vent, and then later the importance of PEEP. It was as if I took a crash course in Respiratory Therapy! Eventually, after two strong courses of steroids and his battling a nasty infection in his lungs in between, we were finally able to wean him to a C-Pap breathing device. This is when I finally got to hold my little angel for the first time! He was 7 weeks old and had grown to over 3 pounds.
After several weeks of cycling back and forth between the C-Pap and the canula, he was placed on a Vaportherm device. They were piloting these devices, and only had two in the entire hospital. I credit a lot of his success to this new technology, since it enabled him to gain the extra respiratory help he needed while still being able to learn the all important "suck - swallow - breath" process very well. We were even able to breastfeed! The NICU staff were so impressed with how it helped Ethan, and the other baby girl who was also placed on one, that they made immediate arrangements to order more. He stayed on the Vaportherm for over two months, until receiving another course of steroids that helped him move directly to room air about two weeks before he was ready to come home.
In the meantime, we continued to ride the NICU roller coaster, going from success to setback and so forth. He battled common preemie ailments, such as low blood pressure, jaundice, infections, and weekly eye exams to check his retinas. He received blood transfusions every few days to keep his strength up in his first two months, and a total of three courses of steroids to help his lung development during his stay. He survived open-heart surgery at one week of age. At four months, he needed to undergo surgery to repair the double hernias he had developed while on steroids. During this operation, due to his respiratory issues, his anesthesiologist opted to give him a spinal analgesic, instead of full anesthesia, which would mean having to place him back on a vent. As his pediatric surgeon gave us the synopsis, she told us he was bright-eyed and curious, looking around at all they did throughout his surgery. His neonatologist was so thrilled at the news she was jumping up and down, hugging his surgeon and us in congratulations. I was so touched at how much care and emotion she gave to Ethan throughout his stay. As the weeks went by, she began to just fondly shake her head and say "That's Ethan", meaning that there was no use predicting how things would be for him, because he was just determined to do his own thing.
We finally brought Ethan home on May 28th, almost two months after his original due date of April 4th. He actually came home without supplemental oxygen or even a monitor! Most parents might see this as great news, but to me it was terrifying... after so long, I felt I had become dependent on the monitor to tell me how he was doing. Suddenly, he would be home alone with only me, and no nurses or physicians to help. How would I know that he was okay? Could I really tell if he began low stating again? Over time, I've become more confident in my ability to read his signals. That first week though, I don't think I slept a wink. I couldn't leave him alone for a second. It was like being a brand-new parent all over again, to an even greater extreme. We were lucky to have a few healthy months with him at home, before the RSV season came around. As expected, he's been pretty sick off and on since September, but at least so far, we've kept him out of the hospital, with only one emergency trip to the ER. He's been so cheerful and happy through it all, too. When he wakes up in the morning, he'll cough for a while to clear his throat, then beam a killer smile at me that just turns my heart over. He's so adorable! As my middle son Aiden says: "Mommy, Ethan has Daddy's eyes, your curly eyelashes, and my dimples when he smiles."
Ethan does smile often, and especially loves to laugh at his brothers' antics. We treasure these happy moments, and worry during the not-so-happy ones. One of the hardest times is when he wakes up screaming in the middle of the night shaking with fear. He calms fairly quickly once he's in my arms, but it just tears my heart apart to know all he's had to suffer through, and that he might be suffering stress and terror from his experiences. I will always wonder if it was something I did or didn't do that caused his prematurity. Even though rationally I know I did everything right, sometimes I feel such guilt and helplessness as I wipe away his tears. Luckily, he's so sweet natured that my love for him overpowers those unhelpful feelings. He is truly a miracle!
Madison's Story - 26 Weeks
I had a wonderful pregnancy. I was never sick and felt great. My biggest complaint was that I was tired most of the time. I loved being pregnant and couldn’t wait for the day that I would meet my beautiful baby. I never knew that day would come so soon.
Arriving at the hospital seems like a blur. Once I was examined by a doctor I was told that I needed an emergency cesarean section. Madison was losing oxygen and timing was crucial. She was born early that morning on March 16th at 12:14 am. She was 26 weeks gestation and weighed 1 pound 14 ounces and was 13 inches long.
I still don’t know why my pregnancy ended early. I do know that Madison’s umbilical was unusually short—only 13 centimeters long. The shortness of the umbilical cord was thought, by the doctors, to have caused a placental abruption. I don’t think I will ever know what had caused her umbilical cord to stop growing, but I will always wonder if I could have done something differently.
The first day after her birth I was in shock. I wanted to tell all my family and friends that I just had a baby. I was happy. She was alive. It wasn’t until I saw her for the first time that I understood the seriousness of the situation.
During her hospital stay, Madison was on a ventilator for less than 24 hours and was on CPAP for about two weeks. Her most serious complication took place during her first week of life when she had a grade three brain bleed. This later led to a condition known as hydrocephalus. At two months of age she had surgery to correct the hydrocephalus and now has a VP shunt.
Today, Madison is a thriving two year old. She is curious, energetic, and loves to play house. She is not quite caught up to her peers but she is definitely on her way. She is learning sign language to enhance her language development, and knows about 30 signs including; more, eat, sleep, and love to name a few. She is now also learning to say more words and continues to learn something new every day.
Life with Madison has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but I am so proud to be called her mother.
Jake's Story - born at 27 weeks
On May 1st we went in for what was supposed to be a routine visit with the midwife. The appointment went well and there was no indication of any problems. Right before we left we requested a sonogram to confirm that Jake was a boy. Fortunately the ultrasonographer did have time to do quick sonogram for us.
Immediately the ultrasonographer knew that something was wrong. There was almost no amniotic fluid and Jake only measured at the size of a 24 week old fetus despite the fact that he was 27 weeks gestation. The obstetrician sent us directly to a perinatalogist at Fairfax Hospital who said that Jake was not growing properly and had to be born immediately.
Jacob Morris was born May 2, 2003 at 10:35 am by emergency c-section, a few hours before the doctor intended because Jake’s heart rate had begun to drop. He weighed a scant 1 pound 7 ounces when he was born. Jake’s first week in the NICU was truly his honeymoon period. He was only on the vent for 2 days and quickly progressed nasal canula.
Unfortunately the NICU roller coaster kicked in and Jake fought off several infections, including a pneumonia that put him back on the vent. He spend a total of 19 weeks in the NICU and was readmitted to the hospital 19 days after he came home. He had surgery for his reflux, which had gotten worse at home, and a gastric tube placed.
Jake is now 11 months old and still on oxygen and tube feedings. Despite all he has been through he is a very laid back and cheerful baby. He is quick to smile and laugh and loves to be tickled. He has grown by leaps and bound and is now in the 50th percentile for his actual age. We have an Occupational Therapist come to the house weekly to work on motor skills and feeding. Although he is behind on motor skills, he is very attentive to his environment and seems curious about the world. He is truly our very own miracle and every day we feel blessed to have him in our lives.
Born from 31 to 36 weeks gestation
William's Story - born at 33 weeks
The Boy Wonder
Today he is 4!
Today he is amazing!
Today he is so smart!
Today he runs like the wind!
Today he enchants me with his vivid imagination!
Today he is learning to speak Spanish!
Today he is a great tumbler!
Today he loves to sing and dance (break dance even?!)!
Today he loves Bob Marley, The Wiggles, Miles Davis and JoJo the Circus Clown!
Today he is a loving BIG brother!
Today he is a comedian who makes us all laugh!
Today he is an Ambassador for the National Capitol Area March of Dimes!
Today he rides a bike!
Today he is learning to read!
Today William Dylan is 4!
William Dylan was born at 33 weeks by emergency c-section. I wasn't sure I was feeling enough movement and when I went in for an unscheduled check, they heard Will's heart rate decelerating to almost nothing every few minutes. I had no amniotic fluid. He was dying inside me. The reason is still unknown. He weighed 2 lbs., 5 oz. and was 14 inches long at birth. Will did well on his apgars and was on room air from the start. The nurses in the Inova Alexandria NICU quickly nicknamed him "Strong Will." :- ) He was diagnosed as being Intrauterine Growth Restricted (IUGR) since he should have weighed at least 4 lbs. at 33 weeks gestation. Once we understood how very close we came to losing him, we appreciated what a miracle he is.
We stayed in the NICU for nearly 50 days (a blink of the eye compared to many, I know). Those 50 days seemed like forever to me. I cried every day and night when our visits were over. It seemed so unnatural to leave my baby. Some days we were overjoyed to hear he gained an incredible number of ounces in one day, only to be shell shocked when we arrived the next day to hear he had not only lost weight, but was being gavaged. The infamous NICU rollercoaster! While I struggled with many of the rules and policies of the NICU, I know they were there to protect my miracle. I owe a debt to the women and men who saved my son's life and who cared for him everyday. I thank them for their care and medical knowledge and especially for the little things, like the Mother's Day card they made for me with Will's footprint. While those weeks in the NICU were the worst of my life, we came to treasure and rely on a wonderful support network of nurses and doctors, family and friends.
The years since Will's birth have been bumpy, to be sure. The emergency trip to the ER (in an ambulance) just days after Will's arrival home. (It turned out to be the apnea monitor's fault!) Being housebound for months when all we wanted to do was show the world our miracle. The epogen shots we had to give Will ourselves. The reflux and the meds we had to administer to treat it. The emergency trips to the ER with wheezing and coughing. The specialist consults. The nebulizer that has seemed to take the place of the monitor! The return trips to the hospital for illnesses that other kids can shake off. And, of course, the constant worries that never leave the minds of preemie parents: Will he be OK? Will he have disabilities? Will he ever "catch up" in growth and size? Will he ever be healthy?
Despite all of those things, these have been wonderful years! Will is a wonder to me and I could never imagine my life without him. He has HUGE, beautiful blue eyes, lots of thick, soft blonde hair, a dimple in his chin, and a smile that melts my heart. He walks and runs unbelievably fast. He is a wonderful talker. His first word was "cat" and now he tells me stories using full sentences with a wonderful animated face! He loves to dance and his favorite songs are the ones he makes up!
He almost didn't make it and now he is almost 4! We thank everyone who, in any way, supports research, technologies and education about prematurity caused by preterm labor or any of the other many reasons.
Jamie and Brenna's Stories
In 1997, I was diagnosed with Rh disease. Due to one nurse not giving me a single shot when my son Connor was born, I have had two children fight for their lives in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU's). Rh disease is a blood disorder in women who have a negative Rh factor (A-, B-, AB-, O-). After the first pregnancy, you blood fights off your next children like common cold. It attacks the baby, and should it get into the baby's blood stream, it will destroy your child from within. With each pregnancy, it gets worse. Your first pregnancy, you're fine, as you haven't been sensitized yet. Your second pregnancy, you have a 50/50 shot of having a healthy child. The third pregnancy doesn't usually survive.
Jamie was born August 8th, 2002. During my first trimester, we did bloodwork every single week. We had to keep an eye on the my titer levels. The C titer measures how much of the baby's blood has gotten into my system and is attacking me. The D titer is what attacks the baby's blood. My C titer stayed low, but the D titer slowly climbed. During, my second trimester, I was involved in a car accident. Afterward, the titer levels raised considerably. I recieved shots to strengthen Jamie's lungs, and we began bi-weekly amniocentesis's. We delivered at 35 weeks gestation as soon as his lungs were developed. He weighed 6 lbs, 14 ozs.
The next two weeks were very hard. I spent all my time at the hospital 30 miles away. When I did sleep, it was at a friends house close by on their couch. I never missed a feeding, because it was the only time I was allowed to hold him. Due to his bilirubin levels, he was under constant douoble phototherapy. The doctors would only allow me to hold him while he ate, and even then, he was only allowed out for 15 minutes every 4 hours. After two weeks of this, I had to resume a somewhat normal life. My children at home missed me, and my husband needed me home. Jamie spent a month at Fair Oaks Hospital receiving blood transfusions, and double phototherapy, which continued after he came home. Fortunately, he is now a very healthy, happy boy of 20 months.
Brenna has been another story. The second I concieved, we knew there would be problems. As soon as her abdominal cavity was large enough to get to with a needle we began bi-weekly blood transfusions. Getting into whatever vein we could find once her veins were large enough, we continued this untill two months before she should have been born. On June 9th, 2003, she stopped moving in utero. I drove the 90 miles back to the hospital, only to be told that she wasn't doing well. I was hooked to the monitor, and as soon as I called my husband and mother to say the baby may be coming, they performed an emergency C-section. She coded on the table seconds after being born. The Thursday before she was born, she weighed 3 pounds, but at birth we guessed that she weighed 5 1/2 pounds. That's two and a half pounds of fluid that built up under her skin. We couldn't touch her for over a month because she was so swollen that if you touched her, her skin would break open and weep a yellow fluid. She couldn't even wear a diaper.
The next two months were a roller coaster ride. She would not breathe on her own, her kidneys shut down at one point. She had a hole that finally closed on it's own in her heart. Numerous times I was called to spend her last hours with her. She received around the clock transfusions of blood, platelets, and plasma. After we got her somewhat stabilized, and when she finally opened her eyes for the first time at the age of two months, we realized she needed eye surgery to save any vision at all. Two surgeries were performed at UVA on each eye, then she was transferred to Fairfax for a more specialized procedure. She now has some vision, but we don't know if they were able to save any of her peripheral vision.
Shortly before discharge we found out that she was deaf in her left ear. The only thing she can hear in that ear are fire sirens, if they are very close by. At the age of 5 months, she finally came home from the hospital on oxygen, a feeding tube directly in her stomach, and an apnea monitor. She has chronic lung disease, and we'll always worry about her oxygen levels. At the age of 9 months she had her feeding tube removed, and began to wiggle and babble. She is at about a two month old level with her abilities. We are seeing a neurologist at the end of the month. Her heart is finally back on track, although the walls are still larger than they should be. We are amazed at her progress. At the age of ten months now, she weighs a whopping 15 pounds! She is truly a miracle baby.
Jason's Story - born at 34 weeks
I was 36 when I gave birth to my second child, Jason. And this pregnancy was nowhere near normal. I had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, placenta previa and was hospitalized twice for pre term labor. As well, the week of Jason’s birth, I was put on bed rest. At 1 a.m. on June 24th I awoke to use the bathroom and noticed that my bed was covered in blood. I panicked; we knew it was time. Three and half hours later, Jason was born via c-section and then immediately taken to the NICU. Although his apgar scores were okay, he was having trouble breathing and had arrived almost 6 weeks early. He weighed in at 6 lbs 5 oz and was about 19” long.
The time we spent in the NICU was the longest 8 days of our lives. I didn’t get to hold Jason until a few hours after he was born and could only hold him briefly. He had jaundice, was on oxygen and an IV, and a CPAP. I wasn’t allowed to nurse him till day 3 but thankfully for the few minutes I tried, he latched on. However after just a brief time, I had to put him back in the isolette. His jaundice numbers remained elevated and each day the neonatologist told us that we still couldn’t take him home. He finally came off oxygen around day 3.
Whenever I had walked into the NICU to see Jason, the world seemed to stand still. I looked around me and saw these new moms, like myself, standing in front of their tiny babys’ isolettes. Some were crying, others were speaking with the nurses and others stood like zombies peering at their tiny babies. Something was missing in this surreal setting. Happiness, tears of joy, etc. All that stuff that is supposed to happen with a new baby. The connection to our newborns was sporadic and sometimes painful and scary. And knowing that immediately after giving birth, my physical self was going through a roller coaster ride of hormonal changes added to the stress.
Eventually after 8 long days in the NICU, with the last night being up in the pediatric ward, we were able to take Jason home with us. That was a great day and a relief. And although our experience with the NICU and our preemie was a different one and shorter than most, I still feel like a member of this special group of women that have been tested and made stronger through our experience with our preemies. Near-term preemies can have similar issues to “younger” preemies so I have been able to share experiences with Preemies Today members.
Jason is 17 months old now. He is his sister’s pride and joy and our gift. He’s just about to turn 1, and we plan to celebrate with our friends and family not only his first year of life but also his fight to get into this world. He made his mark! And we love him.