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The first bath I ever gave Jax. In neonatal intensive care. Note his weight, 5 lbs 4 oz, preserved on the scale behind us.

The first bath I ever gave Jax. In neonatal intensive care. Note his weight, 5.76 lbs, preserved on the scale behind us.

Jax Harrison, you are the strongest, most resilient, happy, and go-with-the-flow person I’ve ever known, and you were thisclose to not making it.

I’ve pretty much moved past a lot of the preemie stuff. I plan to write at length about the whole traumatizing ordeal someday, but not yet. You are thriving. You and I are too busy building block towers, reading books, going for hikes, racing cars, chasing the dog, and beating your personal best face-first slide time to think about when your skin was too thin and fragile to touch. The beeps of the monitors don’t haunt my sleep anymore. You’ve grown so much, so fast, that even your below-the-curve stature doesn’t register much. Besides, you make up for being a little smaller than other kids your age with your larger than life personality. I have a blast with you every day, and every day with you is a day I almost didn’t have. I want to dwell on the having for 364 days of the year.

But every year on your birthday, I’m going to think about how I almost lost you before I even had you. How a tiny cramp took me by the hand and led me to my OB-GYN. How a blip on the monitor she hooked me up to made her change her mind at the last minute about letting me go home, and she ordered an ultrasound instead. How they found you breach, and low, way too low for 24.5 weeks. How they elevated my feet, inserted a catheter, told me not to move, slowed my bodily functions down to the point where I could barely see or breathe, just to keep you inside me long enough for steroids to strengthen your lungs. How contractions broke through hard and fast four days later, the morning of Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, and you pushed your way into the world while doctors tried to whisk me down to the OR for an emergency cesarean you were too fast and strong-willed to wait for. How they kept telling me not to push and I kept saying, I’m not, I’m not, but it doesn’t matter, he’s here!

How it was five days before they let me hold you.

How it was two weeks before you opened your eyes.

How you were on and off a ventilator for two months.

How you were only five and a half pounds when they let you leave the hospital, and though they were so happy you were ready to leave, you were a favorite of all the nurses, pulling your nasal cannula out to smile at everyone, and they teared up when we walked out of NICU that last time.

I will say these things every year on your birthday. Sorry, kiddo, but mama’s a sap about you. (Sorry also about the bath pic on the internet…)

Happy birthday, Jax. If I’m ever strong, it’s because you are.

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