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Looking Back On My Son's Premature Birth 6 Months Later

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My son Kaleb is now 6 months old. As many parents will say, I can’t believe it’s already been six months. Now that half a year has passed since that week at the end of August and Kaleb’s birth on September 1, I’ve found myself looking back at that time. It seems as if every detail and moment is etched forever in my memory.

I admit that tonight has been a bit rough. Kaleb has been a little fussier than usual, requiring a few more extra cuddles. It can be tough with a 3-year-old who also wants his Momma, and my husband still on the road from a golf tournament. I find myself noticing the difference 6 months can make.

Six months ago, Kaleb’s future was very uncertain. Since hearing that we would be having a very small preemie, we had no idea what to expect. I feared for my son; having to give birth to him at 28 weeks felt entirely too early. My heart was battling conflicting emotions. As they wheeled me into the operating room, I kept my hands on my belly, not ready to not be pregnant with him anymore. I would never feel his powerful kicks as he grew bigger. I would never have the opportunity to wish for his foot to move from my ribs, or feel him get the hiccups. I was not ready for him to have to face the world before it was time,  feeling devastated as if my body had let him down and I couldn’t keep him safe. On the other hand, they couldn’t hurry fast enough. They had determined it was now too dangerous for him to stay in the womb, and I wanted them to get him out of the situation that was hurting him.

I remember sitting on the operating table while waiting on the spinal block, slumped over and feeling as if I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. My doctor walked in and saw me, and in his caring manner he came over and rubbed my back. The wall that had been carefully placed to keep the tears at bay came down, and I no longer could hold them in as he tried to assure me and tell me it would be OK. I remember telling him through my tears that it wasn’t me I was worried about. I knew not far from where I was being prepped was another team, a team that was preparing for their new very tiny patient.

While they performed the Cesarean section to deliver Kaleb, I could do nothing but stare overhead at the lights as I waited for them to announce his birth. The prayer that I prayed to my older son Kaden each night for the first year or so of his life kept coming to mind. As a new mother, I would hold a sleeping Kaden in my arms beside his crib. I would be exhausted and ready for a break, but I remember feeling scared and having a hard time finally laying him down. The world is a scary place where one never knows what could happen; SIDS, disease, tragedy, etc. I also knew that each time I put him down, the next day he would be one day older, one day closer to no longer being the sleeping baby in my arms wanting mommy cuddles. So I would pray.

This was the prayer that came to my mind as I lay on the operating table. I said it for my first son, so I would say it for my second, no matter what the future held. “Lord, thank you for this child, your child. If it be your will, please allow me another day to be his parent, and with that day help me to remember the honor and responsibility that comes with it. Help me guide him and teach him. And always help me show him your love.” I added on, “I don’t know the future for his life, but I believe you do. I know you have a plan for him. Be with me; help me be the mother he needs.” I then awaited the birth of my second son.

Baby Kaleb in the incubator
Amanda’s son, Kaleb.

I will forever be grateful for two things. First, we still got to hear him cry when he was born. I had never appreciated a cry so much. Second, I was able to see him. I had been told that I more than likely would not get to see him until they took him to the NICU and I had a chance to recover. Kaleb in true Kaleb fashion showed us all by being stable enough that they could bring him around for me to see him. I was and am so grateful for that moment. So tonight I will give Kaleb those extra cuddles and stare at his little hands, his chubby cheeks, and every other feature that makes him Kaleb. I will try to memorize and record each of them to memory. I will attempt to catch up on all the cuddles we missed out on the night of his birth, and the 14 weeks that followed in the NICU.

I look at him and think of the night of his birth. I was finally wheeled to the NICU after recovering for a time. I braced myself to see him as I knew he would be, hooked up to various monitors and looking so fragile and tiny. I looked at him and grieved for the rest of the pregnancy I lost. I grieved the time lost after labor that we should have had, where we would have looked at each other after he was placed on my chest as we begin to bond, studying and learning each other. Instead, I watched him and listened to the machines and monitors. I asked the nurse and was allowed to reach in, and I touched his little arm.

Six months ago tonight, we were completely uncertain of Kaleb’s future. Six months later, we are home. Six months ago he was a 2-pound, 2-ounce baby with a full head of dark hair. Six months later, he is an 11-pound baby with a full head of uncontrollable dark hair. He has continuously amazed me with his strength and his attitude. I love our talks. I love our cuddles. I love watching him and Kaden together, seeing Kaden’s unconditional love for his little brother. I am constantly reminded of my prayer the night of his birth. “I don’t know the future for his life, but I believe you do. I know you have a plan for him. Be with me, help me be the mother he needs.”

Kaleb, I still don’t know what your future holds any more than I know Kaden’s or my own — but I do know part of the plan for your life: to teach me. To teach me and show me more about this world and more about love than I ever knew. So thank you for these past six months, and I look forward to many, many more.

Holding Kaleb, a small preemie baby with oxygen tube
Amanda holding baby Kaleb.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing you thought on the day of your or a loved one’s diagnosis that you later completely changed your mind about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: April 11, 2016
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