This is a video recording the first year of Ward Miles, born at around 25 weeks gestation, about 3 and a half months early.
The most moving part of this video, for me at least, was right in the beginning, when his mother gets to cuddle him for the first time. You can see the emotional turmoil on her face as she holds her baby to her. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
A premature baby at 24 or 25 weeks gestation is born at the limit of viability, with a very low chance of survival – a mere 50% – and a large number who do survive may have long lasting disabilities. Bearing all this in mind, very few babies born this early will live to see their first birthday, so it’s no wonder that Benjamin Miller, his dad, made this video to celebrate. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful to see this tiny little guy fighting to overcome all the obstacles surrounding his birth, and it’s amazing that we now have the technology available to support this (although the family must have suffered a hefty financial burden if the bills were not covered by medical insurance).
My Godson was born earlier this year and he arrived a few weeks early too (although not as early as little Ward Miles!). He had to be kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit soon after he was born, so it was nearly four days before his mummy was able to cuddle him in her arms for the first time. When my friend told me this, there were tears behind her smile as she recalled the moment, and when I thought about it at home, it made me cry too. I remember how much I wanted to be near my first child after he was born – whenever the nurses had to take him to the nursery, I felt so sad and anxious. I cannot imagine how terrible it must feel to not be able to pick up and hold your baby.
My maternal grandfather, who was a physician in China many decades ago, told me about a woman in his village whose husband was killed and the shock of this tragedy caused her to go into early labour.
The baby was so tiny that it fit into the palm of her hand, with skin so translucent that you could see his little heart pulsing. At that time, there were no machines to supply oxygen or parenteral nutrition, so she fed her baby with a solution of sugar water and expressed milk, drop by drop with her little finger. She was afraid that the rats would attack the baby, so she wrapped him up and kept him in a drawer at night. Amazingly, the child survived and grew to adulthood, eventually becoming a university professor.
My grandfather used to say that children like these who are able to survive such odds and emerge unscathed, would be strong, spirited and highly intelligent!
P.S. If you have a preemie baby and you need support and assistance, or if you would like more information on how to help families of premature infants, check out Club Rainbow (Singapore).