If 24 weeks is too early to be born, 23 weeks is much, much earlier. When you are a micropreemie, each day matters exponentially. And the sad fact is that white male babies fare the worst--if you are to be born a preemie, it's best to be a female of color (in terms of your chances of survival). I've always thought this was some form of sick divine justice, since females of color have the hardest road in life.
Parker lived for only seven days. And during those seven days, his parents and older brother learned that each day with him was a blessing. We met Catherine and Doug a few months after Parker died, when they joined the NICU Family Advisory Board, of which we were members. I remember being stunned by their willingness and commitment to continue to be involved at the hospital, and to give back by supporting other parents who were going through the heaven and hell of the NICU. Their generosity and fullness of soul, inspired by their son, blew me away.
|A night out with our dear friends, 2007|
|Doug and Calder with our|
Baby Kieran, 2003
Our son Parker was born in January 1997 at 23 weeks old. He only lived for seven days in the NICU. It was where he lived his life…where he was born and where he died. When he was born we did not know what to expect. We felt so lonely in this new world of the NICU. We wanted to know our future. We wanted to change the past. We were powerless. So we chose to do the one thing that we had total control over…to love him and to appreciate each moment of his existence. To celebrate his life and marvel in the midst of the unexpected, that here before us was our beautiful son.
Through the noise of the machines, from the shock and disbelief that this was happening to us, to the blur of our life having been enveloped by a world we did not choose…somehow, we tried to stay as focused as we could and to remember that this child of ours was a gift.
We now appreciate those days and those moments. For whatever reason, that was all we were meant to have with Parker in this life. But he blessed us with wonderful gifts: experiencing the power and magnitude of love, and the genuine goodness in others. And learning that life, for however long it is or whatever it may be like, is precious, and we should appreciate each moment.
May the power, the beauty, and the love of your child give you strength.
We love you and are keeping you in our hearts, Catherine, Doug, Parker, Pierce, and Calder. Thank you for blessing all the lives you have touched.