As I was thinking about what a year can have in store, I happened to see a copy of a family history my grandfather has been working on.
At 92, Pappy has seen a lot of things, and I found myself thinking about the first time he and Grandma saw Rebekah.
She had been out of her isolette for less than 24 hours, and so it was parked next to her little crib in Room 8 of Akron Children’s NICU until she proved that she could maintain her body temperature without it.
Before ever looking at Bekah, Pappy stopped and looked at her isolette, and then said that he remembered when the twins were in an incubator, but that it didn’t look quite like that.
Of all the people in our family, I am convinced that no one understood our desire to keep Bekah germ-free the way my grandparents did. In 1948 they had twins, Jim and Ginny, who were two months early. Remarkably (especially for 1948), both twins survived and were totally fine, after a two-month stay in the hospital – untouched by my grandparents.
What an incredible difference compared to today’s hospital practices. Only when Bekah was at her very worst did we (or were we ever asked to) refrain from touching her. Today, parents are encouraged to not only touch preemies, but to spend as much skin-to-skin time with them as possible. I can’t imagine what it was like to spend two months without touching two tiny, precious people.
That made me think about all of the changes that have happened in medical history that allowed Rebekah to survive. We’ve met over a dozen people who have shared stories of family members from decades ago who were born with heart defects before there were things like open heart surgery, or even the variety of medicines that can keep little hearts beating until they are bigger, making surgery safer.
We’ve heard tale after tale of babies who just didn’t make it because surgery wasn’t thought possible, or because surgery hadn’t been perfected, or because it was just too outrageously expensive.
Had Bekah been born even five or six years earlier, she wouldn’t have had the benefit of Vapotherm, one of her best friends before and after surgery when she wasn’t quite ready to breathe on her own.
It’s amazing to think that God gave us Bekah at the perfect moment and at the perfect place for her to become the amazing, chatty, hilarious little daredevil she’s growing into.
She whispered and waved to my brother on Christmas Eve as Chris and I read an advent reading. She used her potty (she’s been on a streak of using it at least 3 times a day since the beginning of December) before she opened her Christmas presents.
And a few weeks ago she decided that holding onto things to walk was just slowing her down and started walking on her own.
Heck, she even stuck one hand in the river on New Year’s Day when Chris and I did the Polar Bear plunge!
What an amazing difference a year has made in our lives, and even more important, what a difference decades of medical pioneering have made in the lives of so many people worldwide.
Read the rest of Sarah and Rebekah’s story through her blog, Following Your Heart.