Today my little sister turns 14 years old! I wanted to include part of her birth story which I wrote years ago in junior high when she was born as a preemie weighing only one pound 14 ounces.
This is the story of the miracle baby:
“Alicia! Wake up,” my dad uttered, as he shook me violently.
“Huh? What?” I replied sleepily, for I had just been awakened from my quiet and peaceful slumber. As I opened my eyes slowly, adjusting to the bright light in my bedroom, I saw what seemed to be a look of concern on my father’s normally composed face.
“Wake up! Hurry! We have to leave!” my dad shouted, in a manner that was anything but calm.
“What happened?” I asked as I sat up in bed, glancing at my clock quickly, “It’s four in the morning!” A feeling of fear crept over me. There was something terribly wrong. Why else would I have been waken up at the crack of dawn on a school day, the afternoon of which we were to leave for a ski trip? I feared the worst, someone had died. However what came next could never have been prepared for.
“Mom’s water broke. Hurry!” my dad shouted, as he rushed out of the room to wake my two younger brothers up. For a second, I sat there shocked- water broke, what!? I did not comprehend, at the time, the importance of what my dad had just informed me of. Then, all at once, the realization hit me like a bucket of ice water– the baby was coming, and three months early!
Panic overtook me like a tornado. What would happen if we didn’t arrive at the hospital in time? What would we do if my mom started giving birth in the car? And the scariest question of all– what if the baby died? What if… I had never experienced panic like this before. I didn’t know what to expect. All of the above questions that flew through my head seemed surprisingly real to me; like they could happen and there was a very slim chance that they wouldn’t. I blindly threw on the clothes I had picked out the night before; and within a minute, had slammed our family’s van door shut, enclosing five sleepy and frightened family members within.
My mom sat weeping in the front seat, fearing that the baby– the baby that had grown and formed inside of her for six months– would arrive too soon to be saved. Longing to comfort her, but not knowing how to, I sat there speechless, staring out into the dense fog of the early morning. Glancing into the rearview mirror, I noticed a tear running down my dad’s cheek. I had never seen him cry before. “Why us? She can’t come! She’ll die!” repeated itself over and over in my disarrayed mind. It seemed to take all eternity to drive to the hospital.
As soon as we had shuffled into the hospital, my mom was wheeled away in a wheelchair to the critical care ward; while my two brothers and I were led, like scared puppies, to a small, gloomy room that reeked of puke and contained nothing besides a television and a few couches. After giving us some apple juice and graham crackers the nurse left us all by ourselves. By the routine manner in which the nurse conducted herself we were obviously not the first family of children to come through those emergency room doors seeking something more from her than she could give– an answer. With nothing to do, we sat there staring at the television screen at a news program that we weren’t interested in.
My youngest brother, who was five at the time, behaved like a typical five year old. That child could not sit still for a second, and I didn’t blame him either. I, as a seventh grader, found it very hard to sit there, uncertain of what was to become of the baby. I could just imagine what was going on in my younger brother’s head. When I proposed a walk, it was greatly appreciated. Searching for a water fountain, because we had drained the last of our juice over an hour before, we ended up in the area of the hospital designated for premature babies. I looked in one of the windows and saw babies in plastic boxes (which I later learned were called incubators). They had dozens of wires sticking out of their doll-like figures. The babies were jaundice, shriveled up, and not much larger than my hand. Their ribs were protruding out of their skin, their arms and legs as fragile as sticks, and their stomachs blown up, like balloons about to burst. Doctor, nurses, and parents were huddled around the babies like guardian angels and the parents looked as if they had been deprived of sleep for days.
That was what was to become of my little sister when she arrived into the world, three days later, weighing only one pound and 14 ounces. She was so small, in fact, that she had to be put on steroids to help her grow faster. So small that the first time she wore clothes was 23 days after her birth, and even then she was wearing doll clothes. So small that she swam in diapers made for newborns. My mom visited Morgan twice every day. While my mom was at the hospital, my brother and I became regulars at the public library, going there directly from school every day and staying for a couple hours each day. My brothers and I went to the hospital often, but because we were not allowed in the premature nursery, were not allowed to hold her, feed her, change her diapers, or help with any of the other baby tasks we would have enjoyed doing; the tasks that most big brothers and sisters grudgingly do. In fact, nobody but the parents and grandparents, after they had scrubbed themselves clean and put on a hospital gown, were allowed in the nursery in which my sister lay. Family and friends had to be content with looking through a window the entire three and a half months that Morgan stayed in the hospital.
When Morgan finally did come home, on May 24th, at four and a half pounds, everyone had to be very careful around her. My brothers and I had to take showers before we could hold her, and Morgan was plugged into a monitor all the time. This monitor annoyingly beeped whenever her heart rate dropped; even an imperceptible drop could cause it to explode with noise, imitating an alarm clock that could not be switched off.
Throughout her time in the hospital everyone worried that Morgan would not pull through. We still thank God every day that she lived. She’s has grown into such a beautiful young woman and nobody would know that she was once a little, fragile one pound 14 ounce baby. You would never believe she was once fighting for her life.