March 2, 2011

Aliens and Miracles

Let's be honest, folks. When a baby is born, we go to the hospital to visit and coo and ooh and ahh over the little munchkin, saying how beautiful he or she is, but inside, we really think he or she looks like an alien, most specifically the one that pops out of people's stomachs in the movie by the same name. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the folks who wrote the movie were inspired by childbirth and newborns, but since it's Hollywood, they had to add more teeth. An alien with nothing but bright pink gums just wouldn't make good cinema.

It's OK to admit it. Thinking that babies look weird is natural, because they kind of do, although I wouldn't recommend saying so to the new parents after what they've been through. That's a good way to get that stuffed bear you brought as a gift stuffed somewhere you probably don't want it.

But your own kids, that's a different story. They look like Brad Pitt or Gisele Bundchen from day one. Case in point, here's a picture of Riley that his NICU nurse took a few days after he was born:

Eat your heart out, Brad.

Riley is one year old today, and I find myself thinking back to the adventures of this day last year. Being the daredevil he is, he decided to make his birth interesting, live on the edge a little. He came almost four weeks early; he looped the loop and tied a knot in his umbilical cord; he was just four pounds, thirteen ounces and spent six days in intensive care. All in all, a much more adventurous journey than those of our first two kids, but by the grace of God, he was never really in any danger.

On the fourth day of his stay, a baby was rushed into the NICU by ambulance who weighed one pound, one ounce. Yep, you heard me right. There I sat, holding my slightly jaundiced but peacefully sleeping and healthy guy, while nurses and doctors and paramedics scrambled around this still, tiny form, hooking up machines that would likely stay with her for months, saving this one little life. The nurse told me they were pretty confident she'd make it, but that it would be a long road.

It was probably a product of exhaustion, but I wanted to cry. I looked at Riley and wondered why we got to be the fortunate ones who got to go home in just a couple of days. What if the knot in his cord had caused brain damage? What if one of a thousand other bad things happened? What if? But they didn't. Prayer is powerful. God has been incredibly good to us.

To say the experience of bringing a new little alien into the world is a miracle is cliche, but there just isn't another word to describe it. As I pulled the car around to pick up a glowing mommy and baby, I thanked God and said a little prayer for the tiny girl still lying in intensive care. I hope she has people praying for her, and that she has a great first birthday four days from now. She's a miracle, too.

Happy birthday, Riley!


  1. Well done -- I liked this. (Grammar Nazi: you said: "...more adventurous journey then..." should be "...more adventurous journey THAN..." Just sayin', 'cause it looks like you're here to stay!)

  2. D'oh! Thank you, Grammar Nazi. I am a practicing Grammar Nazi myself, so it's good for me to be brought down to size every now and then...

  3. Beautiful, Aaron. Always enjoy your posts but this one was especially powerful. I am inspired by your love for your "aliens" as well as your prose.