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When Your Whole World Fits in the Palm of Your Hand

I was born three months premature.

My mom, a young nineteen-year-old, was living five hundred miles from her home state of Tennessee in a single wide trailer that she and my dad shared with my uncle. She was six months pregnant when her water broke. My due date had been scheduled for late June and it was March 19th.

My dad took her to New Hanover Hospital, where they attempted to stop labor. As she says it, in her cute Tennessee accent, “The stupid doctor tried to tell me that I wasn’t in labor, and then he also told me I was too young to be having a baby anyway!” After twenty-two hours of labor they did an emergency c-section, because they were afraid that my head would be too soft to make it through a regular delivery. I weighed 1 pound & 11.5 ounces on the first day; on the second, I weighed 1 pound & 9 ounces. My dad said I was so tiny that I fit in the palm of his hand. My parents were told that I wouldn’t make it through the night.

As my mom likes to say, “But you showed them!”

I spent the next two and a half months in an incubator. I had daily heel sticks and blood draws and during one of those, a doctor did something wrong and my entire leg turned purple. They told my parents that it would probably need to be amputated. Within the first week, I ripped out my feeding tube. It happened in the middle of the night and there were no doctors available, so the nurses had to feed me with a bottle. I took so well to it that they never put the feeding tube back in. Throughout all this, my mom wasn’t able to come see me as much as she would have liked. Without a driver’s license, she was at the mercy of others to take her to and from the hospital. She would call every day, multiple times a day. She never knew if the next time she visited me would be the last.

One comfort for her was that the NICU nurses were treating me as if I was their own. They made dresses for me out of gauze and cute signs for my parents when they came to visit. I was loved and cared for around-the-clock. My mom went to visit one day to find the incubator empty and she began to panic, but the nurse was there and holding me in their arms.

(baby doll clothes worn before preemie would fit)

I had entire churches praying for me. Many, many people were lifting me up to The Father. My entire life, I would be introduced to someone to hear them say, “Oh, we were praying for you!” It’s thanks to the wonderful doctors and nurses at New Hanover Hospital, and all of those prayers, I’m alive today. I now have three girls of my own, all within normal (to large!) birth weights. I have both legs and have never had issues with walking. I have scarring behind my eyes because they didn’t know to protect them in the incubator in the 70’s, but I can see.

I’m alive, and I’m healthy, and I’m so grateful.

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