And Just Like That... Our Preemie is 10

And just like that, Liam is 10.

It floors me that 10 years ago I woke up with continued labor pains (that I had been experiencing for days) and knew without a doubt I was in real labor that I could no longer ignore.

This pregnancy was difficult. Nothing in particular made it that way, just a lot of stress. A new marriage, a blended family, a job loss, living with my parents, unreliable vehicles—it felt as though everything in this world was again us and the new baby… and here I was, 7 weeks early going into labor. 

We we’re leading into Thanksgiving week and after a few years of being a single mom unable to attend any daytime school program, I was bent on going to Ethan’s Thanksgiving program. I made a “deal” with Matt that if the hospital confirmed I was officially in labor, I would ask if I could leave for the program and return immediately after. Yes, I know—stupid. Thank God I had a mom willing to leave her daughter at the hospital to watch Ethan and make certain he knew he was not forgotten… and was now a big brother, no longer the baby after 8 years.

Liam came fast. East Tennessee Children’s Hospital was en route to get me and hopefully stop/slow the labor. Instead they came to take a 3lb baby boy who was struggling with his lungs.

A mother should never experience leaving the hospital’s maternity ward without her baby. While Liam was in the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s NICU an hour away from me, Matt and I were quietly eating our “celebratory meal” in CMC, worried and scared about our preemie.
Matt sounded resigned, “I wonder what God’s trying to show us in all of this?”

That stuck with me. Still does.

My prayer for Liam started the moment he was born, with the odds stacked against him… and I don’t remember that prayer ever ending. It bounced around with all sorts of emotions—hour to hour, days, & weeks. One moment I’d be praising God for any small victory or progress in Liam’s health, then the next minute I’d be screaming at God—so angry that my baby was fighting for his life. Sometimes I would beg that He save my child. Regardless of what I was saying, my communication with God never stopped and that was key!

I wasn’t able to hold Liam until a week after he was born. I was ecstatic the first time I was able to feed him when they moved him off of oxygen and placed him on a ng tube. I don’t truly remember those firsts with my other kids—maybe Aidan—but these were special with Liam because I didn’t know if they’d happen.
The first time I brought him over to the NICU window for Aidan and Ethan meet their little brother, they pulled out their old iPods and took so many photos of him, waving at him and talking to him through the glass.

And we kept rolling with life’s other punches… both of our vehicles decided to quit working—one due to a transmission. This prevented us from seeing Liam in the hospital for a while. We cleaned out our savings to get a new transmission and rented a vehicle to visit him once only to find our rental broken into and hit by what appeared to be a drunk driver the next morning. Money was tight and although we had so many standing in prayer with us for our son, only one group of people sent money to make it capable for us to stay in Knoxville close to Liam in the Ronald McDonald House (the only charity I still give to this day)… and that group was a bar I used to play music in proving that God’s love works through anyone even in people beyond the church doors and even those people are God’s people.

Liam, born days before thanksgiving, literally became our Christmas gift as we were able to bring him home on Christmas Eve. 

Fight like a preemie. I never knew how true that phrase was till I had a preemie that could fight hard to be healthy, be smart, be strong. And now, that 3lb. baby boy who was smaller than my forearm and had so little fat on his body that his skin sagged in the incubator, is now a pre-teen who has a gift for music, a love for travel, the heart of an entertainer, and prefers his hair to be long. He’s an amazing big brother and is an extremely compassionate human being who thinks beyond himself more than I ever did at his age. He’s the spitting image of his dad and has become my movie-buddy.

I know what God was showing us now—faith. It grew beyond anything I ever experienced and has carried us through other tough times we have experienced since then.

And our baby is 10. Wow. A very healthy 10.

Happy birthday, Liam Miles. Our Hambone!

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