Happy Birthday Son!
I want to tell you about our son. He was born on this date at 7:11PM... three months premature at 28 weeks gestation instead of 40. He weighed 1,240 GRAMS (they weigh critically premature babies in grams not pounds). That's approximately 2 lbs. 11 oz. -- or about the weight of 20 Hershey bars. He was just under 8 inches long. Imagine THAT birth announcement in your local paper!
When he was born, Dr. John Driscoll at Babies Hospital, New York -- the saint of a doctor responsible for our son’s survival – gave him a 50% chance of survival, and if he did, a 20% chance (one in a million odds) of surviving without a major physical malady. Our son beat the odds -- our “miracle child”. He was. He is still. I would be remiss if I didn’t also credit the spectacular care he received from the most undervalued profession in the world – the nurses. They were his angels – our angels – who watched over him 24 hours a day for the five months he was in their care, especially Stephanie D. who called him a “good preemie” despite the fact that he would pee on her at least once a week!
During his hospital stay, our son developed what was then a common but usually fatal lung condition of premature infants and, while he was eventually well enough to leave the hospital, his damaged lungs required that he have special treatments to assist in keeping his air passages open and had to be hospitalized a number of times -- when he got a cold, for instance. We also call him our “Million Dollar Baby” because his hospital bill approached a million dollars for the first year of his life. Thank heavens for major medical insurance!
His lungs healed and there was no stopping him! Although he was remarkably smaller than other children his age (in fifth grade he looked like a second grader), the doctors assured us he would eventually grow – and he did. He is by no means a mountain of a man physically, but he truly has the heart of a warrior! In Little League, no one could pitch to him because he was so short: he would either walk or get hit by the pitch. In fact, he got hit so many times in the back of the arm, he wore a soccer shin guard there to alleviate the bruising! His on base percentage was the highest on his team -- he was a quick and smart base runner and made his size work for his team. When he was a seventh grader, he was half the size of the eighth grade linebackers on the middle school football team, so a traditional tackle was out of the question. But he wasn’t deterred: he would latch on to a leg of one of these behemoths and just hang on until the bigger boy fell. His football coach used him as an example of tenacity to his other players – they called him “The Bulldog.” While he was the smallest boy on his high school crew (rowing) team, he worked his upper body strength to row 2-man, 4-man and 8-mixed (men/women). He would often arrive at the finish line, get out of the one boat and into another to make the start of the next race! He was the only oarsman on his team to row in more than one race whenever it was permitted (in some scholastic competitions, a rower may only crew in one event).
He also took his schooling seriously and we never had to remind him to do homework or write a paper or complete a project. He has an easy laugh and a wonderful sense of humor. He is fiercely loyal to his friends and is rewarded with an extremely large network of both male and female friends that would do anything for each other. He was by no means a “goody-goody” but we suffered no major problems, as did (do) many other families. He loves women, video games, fast cars, faster motorcycles, his family, his friends, and his pets. He is model-handsome (not bragging neither) but so kind and well mannered that every girl he has ever dated still calls him friend. His picture appears in the dictionary next to the phrase “All-American Boy”.
He has dreams – lots of them. Get out of or maybe stay in the Army (depending on the day). Go to college. Join the New York City Police Department. Own a big truck or SUV. Get a good job. Live in a big house. Ride jet skis every day. Go snowboarding every weekend. Hang with his buds every night. Get married (some day). Have kids (maybe, some day). Live the American Dream!
We are exceptionally proud to call him our son. Our soldier. Our hero.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON! Wishing you a hundred more birthdays full of happiness and health and love. With all our love, always.