premature

My grand niece, Katie Balcerzak is a sweet girl, who absolutely loves just being a mom. She came by that title in a little bit scary fashion, when her daughter, Reece was born over two months early. It was a very scary time for Katie and my grand nephew, Kiefer. It was a time of emergency, and yet it was a time of miracles. They didn’t know what the future would hold for them, but their little girl was a fighter, and she survived. It was during this time that I also realized just how strong Katie and Keifer were. They were living through an incredibly difficult period in their lives, but they stood strong for their little girl. The weeks went by, Christmas passed, then New Years…Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, and then Reece was well enough to go home. Katie and Keifer breathed a sigh of relief…slightly. The worry over premature babies does not leave the parents quickly, but now after the passage of time, they feel safe.

Katie had never wanted anything more than she wanted to be a mom. Almost losing that chance made having their baby girl that much more amazing, and now, each day is a miracle and a gift. Katie knew that this was her calling. She is a mom, and she rejoices at the life she now has, with the love of her life, and the precious child of that love. I could say that for a time Katie had other dreams for her life, but she did not. Before becoming a mom, she was a pre-school teacher. Her love of children has always been there. Any career she might have wanted tended to focus on children. She just has the heart of a mom, and children are her priority. I love seeing pictures of Katie and Reece together. You can feel the love and the bond they share.

Katie, is more than just a mom, though. She is a best friend. She is thoughtful, and very caring. Many is the time when she has posted something or said something that, whether she knew it or not, I or someone else really needed to hear right then. An encouraging word, spoken or posted at just the right moment, can be so powerful. It has the power to heal, and bring joy to a heart that is hurting. Having the ability to deliver those words at just the right time is a great gift. It is one that Katie has, and it is to her credit. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Debbie Cook is my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s older sister. She was born just 16 months before my husband. Debbie’s birth followed a developmentally disabled older sister, and a miscarriage. Debbie’s own birth was not an easy situation either. She was born very, very premature, and only weighed a little over 2 pounds. When she finally came home from the hospital, she could have used a shoe box for a crib. Still, her life from that point forward, has been picture perfect.

With so much going wrong before and during her life’s beginning, one would expect that her whole life would have been much more tragic, and I suppose it could have been. These days great strides have been made in the area of preemie care. Often these babies started out behind, and stayed behind their whole lives. Now, the medical professionals understand that preemies have some special needs, care can be given to make preemie’s early days more productive. The thing about Debbie’s start is that she wasn’t born “these days.” Debbie was born back in the day when little was known of the needs of a preemie. That makes her prognosis more grave, and her outcome more miraculous. Debbie came out of her humble beginnings, without a “scratch” of a learning disability. I would have to call this one a miracle…plain and simple.

Debbie’s life has been one with relatively few health problems in it, and without learning disabilities, so considering the year of her beginning, things could have been much worse. Many babies born so prematurely don’t survive…even these days. The outcome could have been very different…tragically different. Debbie’s life turned out good. It was not perfect. She lost a daughter of her own, but she had two healthy daughters, and 4 grandchildren. She and her husband, LJ are retired now, and love to go camping in the Big Horn Mountains as often as they can. I’m glad things in her life went the way they did, for the most part. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Debbie was born 3 months prematurely. She was so little that she could fit in a shoe box, and she was immediately dubbed, Little Dab O’ Debbie. While very small, Debbie was healthy and grew strong. Before very long, she was a healthy full sized baby and the initial concerns for her life were behind the family. Debbie remained small all of her life, growing up to be only 5′ 2″ tall. While that isn’t terribly short…maybe that is my opinion, in that I am the same height…it did put her the second shortest of her sisters and brothers.

On June 8, 1974, Debbie would marry the love of her life, Lynn Cook. It was at this point that her height…or the lack thereof…became really noticeable. Lynn is 6′ 6″ tall. It really became the tall and the short of it. Even when their daughters were born we knew that it was unlikely that Debbie would be taller than her girls for very long. And sure enough, Machelle and Susan are close to 6′ tall. Her oldest grandson, Weston is already taller than she is, and I’m sure Easton won’t be shorter for long. I suppose it is possible that her granddaughters, Jala and Kaytlyn could be her height or shorter, it is very unlikely. No, I think Debbie will find that before long, she will be Little Dab O’ Grandma…just like she could have been Little Dab O’ Mom, had her girls thought to call her that.

While Debbie is short, she has been a big help to her parents whenever she is down to visit them. They have had health problems over the last few years, and while she is unable to do very much heavy work, since injuring her back a number of years back, she cooks many meals and freezes them for her parents, so that all they have to do is thaw them and heat them up. That is a huge help for her dad who has been the main caregiver for her mom since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a number of years ago. It is an exhausting job for him, and those meals make his life a little easier after a hard day. I am so thankful that we have our Little Dab O’ Debbie, she is a blessing in so many ways. Happy Birthday Debbie!! We love you!!

When my oldest daughter was pregnant with her younger son, Joshua David, she had been given a due date of October 15th. That September, Bob and I were going to Denver for a Rockies Baseball game. I told Corrie that she was not to have this baby while I was gone, as I had been at the births of my other three grandchildren, and didn’t want to miss this one. I didn’t exactly expect Josh to come while we were gone, but I did have a sense of unease. Our trip to Denver was going along just fine, when Corrie called to tell us that she was in labor, and that they were trying to stop the labor. If Josh came at that time, he would be 5 weeks early. Some babies do ok that early, while others have problems.

Of course, my first thought was that she was kidding me, since I had told her that she was not to do this, but it quickly became evident that she was serious. I asked how much time we had, since it is a 5 hour drive home from Denver. She said that they were trying to stop the labor, and to wait just a little bit. We waited anxiously for the call to come that would tell us whether or not to race home. The decision was finally made to go home, as the labor would not stop. We headed out about 4:oo am and I was on pins and needles all the way, not to mention praying constantly.

I could not be on the phone with her constantly and that tore me up. It is hard to watch your daughter go through labor and birth, but far worse to have such a premature labor and you are 5 hours away. Every mile was excruciating. We did make it before Josh’s arrival, but not by much. I was so thankful. God saw to it that we got home safe and in time.

Joshua David arrived at 11:57 am on September 9, 1998, he weighed a pretty good 5 pounds 6.5 ounces, but plans were quickly made for him to be flown to Denver. His lungs were immature and he needed help with his breathing. It was decided that Kevin should accompany him on the flight. It was one of the hardest things the kids have ever done. Corrie was a wreck because she wanted to go, and Kevin was a wreck because she couldn’t. We assured them both we would bring her to Denver as soon as she was released.

Josh was placed in the Neo-Natal ICU at Presbyterian St Luke’s Hospital. His weight dropped to 4 pounds 3 ounces. Sometimes, as was the case for the kids, they had an available room on the nursing home side of the hospital where Corrie and Kevin could stay. The nice thing about that was that the kids could go over and see Josh, 24/7, and that is comforting to a parent. Josh was monitored constantly, and given superior care, for which we are eternally grateful to the staff. His weight began coming back up, but as they got close to coming home, he had a couple of Brady’s, which is when the heart skips a beat. It is normal for that to happen, even in healthy adults, but they won’t let the baby go home until it has been more that 24 hours, so they had to stay longer.

Finally the day came when Joshua David got to come home. We were so excited. His lungs had taken 2 weeks to mature, and he was healthy enough to come home. It didn’t take him long to make up for lost time once he got home. He quickly gained weight and grew into a wonderful little boy. We are so very blessed. God had provided a miracle for Joshua!! We love you Josh!! Happy birthday!!

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