It’s a little ironic that three years ago today, I wrote about my miracle boy, but in a very different tone.  Three years ago today, I started Lleyton’s CaringBridge site, desperate for prayers from any that would provide them.  Three years ago today, I honestly didn’t think my son was going to make it.  Born at 25 weeks and 1 day, 1 pound 13.6 ounces, and 13 inches long – the odds were not in his favor. The nurses told us he was strong and a good weight for his gestational age, but looking at his frail and bruised body, we wondered how long he would be with us.  2015-07-31_0064

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Dan’s ring on his shoulder

The other night, Dan looked at me and said “Can you believe we have a three year old?”  He then turned to Lleyton and said “You know, your Mom demanded that you breathe when you were born.”  I had completely forgotten, and perhaps blocked out, much of Lleyton’s birth, but it came flooding back with that reminder.  I now remember so clearly being taken to the delivery room, terrified and desperate not to lose this baby.  He didn’t even have a name.  I told Dan he needed a name. In that moment, I felt like he needed a name so that he counted – I felt like it would give him strength, and in the back of my mind, I thought it would mean more to have that on a gravestone than if we named him after his birth.  I couldn’t tell you what the doctor looked like. Yellow Mask. I remember Lleyton’s Angel in the room who continued to be with him as his RT throughout his NICU stay.  I was so serious when I demanded only miracle workers in the room.  Her eyes told me she believed, and I felt like my desperation for his life was shared.  He was born so quickly and, of course, didn’t cry. Dan’s reminder brought that memory back so clearly. “Please let him breathe, please let him breathe, God. God, let him live, let him breathe. Breathe, baby, breathe.”  We saw his tiny body so briefly, fitting in the palm of the doctor’s hands before being rushed to the next room where they would spend over a minute and a half resuscitating him.

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Seven days into his journey, we were told that Lleyton had suffered a pretty serious brain bleed.  We had been prepped and assured that he probably had a bleed, but it wasn’t likely to be a grade IV.  We had been told that of all things, we didn’t want to hear that number.  I will never forget the face of his doctor when we came to hear the results of his ultrasound.  He didn’t need to say anything out loud as we already knew the diagnosis.  There are vague memories of “80% chance of Cerebral Palsy…not really sure what will happen…every baby is different…” as I listened in what felt like a tunnel and tried to control my tears.  I had felt so strong until this moment. Maybe denial is a better word than strong.  Dan wrote our Caring Bridge entry that evening as I had been staring at the computer unable to find the right words.  There’s an amazing video of another micro-preemie’s family that is so honest, real, and so much of our journey as well (ironically – I just noticed they are here in Columbus, Ohio…random!).  There’s a clip in the video of the tears driving home from the hospital. I so distinctly remember this – the deafening silence and tears driving home that evening. Desperate for hope and faith, but wondering why God had given you this child if this is what they would encounter. I am not proud of the thoughts I had that night, but I do think they speak to God’s mercy and grace as He changed my heart and provided me with strength and comfort.

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Over the course of the next 11 weeks and 1 day, we witnessed our Miracle.  Lleyton grew stronger and was sent home from the NICU after 78 days, on October 13th, an entire month before his due date.  Our story is not every micro-preemie’s story. Our story had it’s hard moments, but overall, was easy compared to most. We had an amazing hospital and nurse/doctor staff, we had an incredible support system from our friends and families, and those we hardly knew that kept up with our CaringBridge site and prayed.

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Now, it has been three entire years.  We have graduated multiple therapies because Lleyton keeps progressing as he should.  When new friends find out he was born so early, they would never have known.  He is now 36.5 inches tall and 27 pounds – on the growth chart for weight for the first time in his life!  He is one of the sweetest little boys I have ever met. He loves to tell stories, do puzzles, color and paint, jump, swim, read books, sing songs, go to the zoo, RUN, play at the park, and loves his baby sister.  He is so smart – I am spoiled by how quickly he catches on to new things.  What we envisioned for this age is not what we have. God has been so good to us, and though some have said it is deserved, I stand by my argument that he is not deserved – but he is a gift. He is here by the grace of God and I am thankful for him every single day.

Happy Birthday, sweet miracle boy.

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