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What the Phrase 'Million-Dollar Baby' Means to Me

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When I went into labor 17 weeks early, there was no time for us to consider our “options.”

When the nurse handed me the consent form, I had no idea what I was signing. I had no idea the life of my unborn baby was literally in my hands. At that moment, I didn’t know that babies born too soon are babies who are born sick. I didn’t know they spend days, months and even years in intensive care units.

The only thing I did know was that I was willing to give my baby every chance he needed to grow into a kind and curious human being. I believed in himAnd I signed the paper giving permission  for doctors to use “all means necessary” to keep him alive.

During my son Jax’s 93 days in the NICU, I started hearing the term “million-dollar baby.”

There’s some controversy on whether or not saving the life of an extremely premature infant is worth it. Some people seem to think if a baby requires a million dollars to stay alive, then the quality of life for that child would be sad and the child would be a burden.

Jax’s medical claims have far surpassed one million dollars. We are sitting right around $1,100,000.

Jax has faced a lot of scary and life-threatening things in his life. He was on life support for three months, he’s had seven surgeries and he’s needed lots of support and therapy to learn to eat, walk and speak. He has a brain tumor.

But if I had to look at his life in terms of “options” and dollars and then decide if he was worth it? Well, then I’d have to say the only option that matters is sitting right in front of us singing the ABC’s and eating Cheerios.

It’s worth it. He’s worth it.

And when his medical claims surpass $2 million, he will still be worth it. Because his quality of life is not sad. He’s not a burden. And no one can put a price on this smile.

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This post originally appeared on An Early Start.

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Originally published: March 19, 2015
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