There he stood at home plate, bat in hand, with a helmet two sizes too big for his head. We had practiced all week hitting a ball off of a tee, but once the game began, the coach was eager to see what children could also hit a ball that was pitched to them. I felt bad we hadn't practiced this. The game was however called tee ball, not baseball, and he was only four years old. I wasn't expecting miracles that day. From where I stood, he already was a miracle.
It was July 31, 2003. I was 6 months pregnant. My first born was expected to join the world on October 8th. I was excited that day because it was my last day of work. I was going to spend the remainder of my pregnancy getting ready for my new baby.
I spoke to my mom around 9am that morning. When she asked how I was feeling that day, I gave her the same report. I had some pains which felt like contractions. I had been having these pains the last few weeks. The doctors told me everything was fine. I specifically remember a day when he baby had changed positions. He suddenly felt incredibly heavy. Every step I took was painful. The doctors assured me everything was still fine. During my conversation with my mom, I had decided to leave work and go see my doctor. I was able to make an appointment for 11 am.
I was in such good spirits that I even stopped for a coffee and a donut. Mom and I sat in her back yard before the appointment discussing the future, and all the neat things I had to look forward to. Since Mom was getting her hair done shortly after my appointment, she came with me to the the doctor.
I was taken right in. It was a little before 11 am. When the doctor opened the door I could see the look right away. The look of "Oh you again. The baby is fine. There's no need to worry." She almost made me feel as if I had interrupted her day. I told her about the normal symptoms. My continual contractions, and the spotting that began that morning. She said she would perform an exam. Suddenly there was a quiet in the office. "You are 5 centimeters dilated," she said, "you need to get to a hospital right away."
My baby was born that day at 1:20pm. He weighed just 3lbs. 13ozs. I had but a second to take a look at him before a team of nurses and doctors rushed him away to the NICU. I remembered thinking how big he looked for being two months early. It wasn't until about three hours later that I began to realize the danger our little boy was in.
For those of you who may have been affected at some time in your life by the birth of a preemie, I'm sure you can attest to the fact that your life was suddenly turned upside down. Ours was no different. Filled with weekly exams, heart monitors, medications, specialists, therapists, OT, and PT. Not to mention the stack of bills which were conveniently delivered to our mailbox daily. You can scream, you can cry, but when everything is said and done, it's still you and this delicate life that you've been chosen to look after.
Despite some close calls, our baby began to thrive. He may be a little behind his peers, but the courage that he shows each day makes one forget that there was a time when he could practically sit in the palm of a hand.
As he walked up to home plate, flashes of the last four years filled my mind. I sat in wonderment as I watched our small miracle get ready to take his turn. Then suddenly there it was...The hit heard round the world. Our little boy not only hit the ball, he made it to first base. There were others on his team that repeated the same play, but nothing was more amazing to me than what I had just witnessed.
It has been a little over a year since our son hit that ball, and there's still not a day that goes by that it doesn't feel like the first time. With all the doctors my son has seen over the years, not one has ever told us of his possibilities, and then again, maybe that's not their job. Maybe that's where we come in.
To all the parents who have silently asked "why me?" This is your answer.
This post is dedicated to all our "little" sluggers.