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Ten Things of Thankful: Youngest Son Edition

This post is the last (for the year) in the series of "It's my kid's birthday!" posts.  Thank you for indulging me.  I'm fortunate to be Mom to such great individuals.  

Today's post celebrates youngest son, the one whose life itself is a miracle.   I know all babies are miracles, but my youngest son reminded me of that fact early and often.  He'll be 21 years old this coming week, and I am still overwhelmed with gratitude that he even made it here alive, let alone healthy.  

The following is a fairly non-graphic account of the pregnancy and birth.  Feel free to skip to the numbered Thankfuls if you wish. 

We spent Thanksgiving in 1992 with my parents.  I don't remember too many details about Thanksgiving itself, but I remember vividly the events of the next day.  My parents wanted to show John, me, and our two children a new sporting goods store that had recently opened.  We drove up and started looking around.  I was 10 weeks pregnant, and I felt warm and sick, but figured it was just because the store was crowded.  When we got back to my parents' house, I realized something was terribly wrong.  John and I drove to the emergency room, while my parents watched our son and daughter. The doctor informed us that I might or might not be having a miscarriage; he could perform an ultrasound to see if it had already happened, but that even if the baby was still there, a miscarriage might still occur.  Of course, we told him to do the ultrasound, and we were very relieved our little baby appeared on the screen.  We were discharged with instructions to take it easy, and to follow up with the ob-gyn when we returned home. 

I met with my ob-gyn, and things seemed to be OK, but I kept to a regimen of bedrest. Then at 13 weeks gestation, I again thought I was miscarrying.  Again, I had an ultrasound.  The technician found the baby, and called the doctor into the room.  The doctor came in and audibly gasped.  Trying to quickly recover, he explained that the placenta was partially separated from the uterine wall, and he said that many women would chose to terminate a pregnancy at this point.  That was not an option for us, so the doctor told us all the different scenarios that might play out regarding the baby's future.  I don't remember anything except doom and gloom. 

I spent the rest of the pregnancy on bedrest, wondering with each new episode if this was the day my baby was going to come.  One time, I called the doctor in the middle of the night.  He was so groggy, but when it finally registered what I was saying, he told me to go to the hospital.  I ended up staying there for a week.  

At about 24 weeks, I entered the hospital for the final time.  On the day delivery seemed imminent, I was transferred to a hospital with a level 4 neonatal intensive care unit.  Just before being wheeled into the ambulance, a nurse explained to John and I what we could expect our baby to be like.  I don't remember her precise words, but I'll never forget her incongruous, plastered-on smile.   

Fortunately, I did not deliver that day, which gave my son more time to grow and mature.  I remained hospitalized for 6 weeks.  One day in April, I awoke early in the morning, and quickly alerted a nurse.  After she called my doctor, it was decided that delivery day had arrived.  I was wheeled into the operating room.  I tried not to panic, and told myself I just had to keep my emotions in check until the anesthesia put me under.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up.  I learned my son was alive.  

That is a preemie-sized diaper that is swimming on my son.

I was a bit sad that he weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces, because his weight had been estimated at over 3 pounds during the last ultrasound I had.  Three pounds sounded hopeful; two pounds sounded really tiny.  Though he was small, he was absolutely adorable.  He stayed in the NICU for 6 weeks, much of that time in the room reserved for the smallest and sickest babies.  When he could simultaneously eat, breathe, and keep his heart beating, he was discharged.  He weighed a whopping four and a half pounds.  

Going home!

He was home for a week before he was admitted to another hospital.  He actually hadn't quite mastered simultaneously eating, breathing, and heart-beating.  During that week-long hospital stay, we nearly lost him one night.  John was staying in his room that night, so I don't have personal memories of those difficult hours, and John is glad I don't. Eventually, our son came home again, this time with an apnea monitor.  For the next 6 months, we were never more than 10 seconds away from our son, and we constantly were listening for the beep-beep-beep of the alarm.  The first couple of years were a blur of doctor's appointments and uncertainty.  Though it was stressful, it was completely worth it!

1.  I'm thankful for his fighting spirit.  Whether it is in staying alive as an infant, or having the determination to try vegetarianism as a high school student, he doesn't give up easily.

2.  I'm thankful for his ability to laugh at himself.  One of our family's favorite stories is about youngest son's refusal to try "mashed potatoes and gravy" one April Fool's Day.  I had served vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce as part of dinner.  Youngest son didn't like gravy, and couldn't understand why we were so adamant that he at least try the dish.  His tantrum stopped as soon as he actually took a bite, and then he was laughing as hard as the rest of us.  

3.  I'm thankful for his frugality.  He is never frivolous in his expenditures.  In fact, one summer he went with a school group to Europe.  The cost of the trip included housing, most meals, and admission to attractions, but no incidentals.  In the ten days he was there, and though he had more money available, he spent exactly $50.  When he decided on business or accounting as a major, I thought it was a great fit.

4.  I'm thankful for his sense of humor.  Even now, John and I will find ourselves quoting our son's long-standing punch lines.  

5.  I'm thankful for his computer smarts.  He is quick to help me with any blogging problem I might have, and supportive of my attempts with new-to-me technology.

6.  I'm thankful for his love of people.  (And people love him.)  In his early grade school years, he was good friends with a boy in his class who had autism.  Our families became good friends, too.  It was a sad day when we moved to another state.  In later elementary school years, youngest son became friends with a boy who looked like his polar opposite.  I'm glad that my son looks on the inside when he chooses friends. 

They are the same age, and they both have hearts of gold.

7.  I'm thankful for his work ethic.  When he went off to college, he joked that he would remember my dad's advice. ("You can always retake a class, but you can never retake a party.")  Fortunately, his grades reflect the many hours he spends studying.  As my dad would say, "Good job, kid."

My dad also gave him the opportunity to learn to work hard.  Here is son, helping to make a border for a bamboo garden.

8.  I'm thankful for his tidiness.  I could learn a thing or two from youngest son.  He's not obsessive, but he does pick up after himself and even washes dishes voluntarily.

9.  I'm thankful for his leadership skills.  As a teenager, he often would be the one stepping up to the plate to fulfill responsibilities in his church youth group.  He would help others teens feel welcomed and wanted.  He leads with gentle encouragement and love.  

10.  I'm thankful that he takes time to keep in touch.  He's a fierce "Words with Friends" competitor, and I enjoy our games.  He's also the first to let me know if a blog post has a broken link or a missing photo or video.  He also calls and texts regularly, which I appreciate.  

Happy birthday, son!  You've come a long way, baby.  

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Thanks for youngest son, and for the many, many people who helped and supported us during the journey to get him here. 

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Ten Things of Thankful

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  1. What a wonderful blessing he's been to your life. Thanks for sharing.

    1. He certainly has been, and continues to be!

  2. #8...Tidiness...I call BS because I have never met a boy who is tidy...totally kidding. Can you send him to my house. We have a load of Legos that are meticulously scattered in places where your feet happens to land.
    I think his birth story is absolutely beautiful. What a strong willed spirit he is. To have gone through so much...and you too. I can't even imagine how it pained you each and every single time...and the bed rest...
    Happy Birthday to your little big man. 21 is a big birthday in America right? Legal age?

    1. We've lived through the "walking on Legos" phase. You might be surprised, and your son will develop a tidy gene, too. It's a fairly late-developing gene. :-)

      Fortunately, my pain was almost all emotional. For the most part, I felt fine physically. Twenty weeks of bedrest was a bit much, though, but it was do-able. I was sure thankful to be on my feet again. If I had been writing TToT lists then, I would have been thankful for the ability to wash dishes!

      In the US, 21 does represent the legal age to drink (but 18 is legal age to vote, sign documents, etc.) Because we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we do not drink alcohol, so the 21st birthday isn't as big of a birthday as it is for many other Americans.

  3. great birth story... my nephew was premie and i remember nights in the nicu and then the hosp ital and then home with the apnea monitor... I swear I could hear his heart beating in my sleep! What a beautiful kid you have there! I love the photo with his polar opposite ! Happy Birthday! Congratulations for successfully riding the premie waves!

    1. LOL about hearing his heart beating in your sleep--I can so relate to that! My older kids had a VHS of Aladdin, and one of the songs in that movie had a "beep, beep, beep" tone in the background that exactly matched the apnea monitor's alarm. Fooled me every time!

  4. very cool. you surely can be proud... (but I liked the last photo and the advice about parties).
    It goes to show the strength of the (human) spirit is a quality, not so much a quantity or a function of size or age or any of the other superficial qualities.
    nice post

    1. I am so glad that my son realizes that truth about people.

  5. A wonderful story indeed - so much to be thankful for there! Happy birthday to all of you!

  6. It is never, never, never good when a medical technician audibly gasps; nor is it good when they are carefully silent. But what a sweet, bright-eyed eensy weensy boy he was! Totally love the wild-haired picture of him with his polar opposite friend, too. You done good with him, Kristi!

    1. Yeah, I really didn't mind those long red curls, either. :-)

  7. What an amazing story! Chills, for sure. What an amazing success story for you and for him! So perfect for Easter!

    1. He's definitely a miracle baby. I think he was literally prayed to earth.

  8. Oh my heart!!! What a glorious and amazing story!!! God BLESS your little miracle...turned into such a wonderful young man!!! Such a journey... absolutely worthy of a post and this gorgeous tribute. :) Congratulations on motherhood- and how blessed you are, mom!

    1. The whole experience taught me so much, and I realize just how fortunate I am.

  9. Love his dad's advice! And his ability to make friends based on the inside. You did good!

    1. Actually, it was my dad's advice (my son's grandpa). Bet you'd never guess my dad is a retired school teacher! :-)

  10. Happy happy birthday to your little boy who's not so little anymore Kristi! Those early days must have been terrifying. I was on bedrest at 26 weeks and every time I stood up, I had to worry about going into labor. I'm so happy that your son (and mine) hung in there for you! He was so tiny!! Happy Easter, too, friend. I hope it's a lovely weekend.

  11. He is certainly something to be thankful for and then some. I can't even imagine going through those first few years. Hope you had a wonderful Easter, too!

  12. Such a beautiful tribute to his life. Those kids really keep us on our toes. What a great gift he is in your life. Thank you for sharing him.


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