The Million Dollar Baby: Ian’s Miracle Birth

Since my mother’s death in July, I have written several posts of her home-going including A Grief Observed: Missing Mother and Crossing the Bar.

This time I’m focusing on a birth, our grandson Ian’s miraculous birth seven years ago this week. According to the doctor’s calculations, he was scheduled to arrive on January 9, his Grandpa Beaman’s birthday. Instead he made his appearance on his mother Sarah’s birthday, October 5.

All births are miraculous, really, the tiny embryo maturing into a marvelous baby with millions of synapses making connections within the brain, a sense of rhythm and an ability to breathe and suckle at the same time. One study mentioned that babies can pick out the gender of other babies even when they are cross-dressed, something adults cannot do.

But Ian’s birth at 26 weeks gestation weighing a mere 2 pounds, 5 ounces meant many un-connected synapses and a severely undeveloped breathing apparatus. For weeks it was touch-and-go, and we weren’t certain that we would be bringing him home from the NIC Unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Aside from the frightening awareness that Ian had a hole in his heart, we were introduced to a whole new vocabulary of problems: bradycardia, retinopathy, hip dysplasia. Translation: Slow, interrupted heartbeat requiring a nose cannula, undeveloped blood vessels in retina, and an immature hip ball and sock requiring a harness to hold legs in a frog-like fashion. Here is his photo-story:

Ian_02_NIC Unit_112707

Hello, world!
Hello, world!

My journal records that on November 29, 2007 Ian weighs 4 pounds, 3 ounces and is taking three bottles a day. He is also employing the services of a speech therapist and an occupational therapist along with physical therapy.

How would a speech therapist help a premature baby who can’t speak or an occupational therapist assist a child whose main job was trying to survive? Speech therapy facilitated the transition from tube feeding to bottle feeding and the occupational therapy improved the range of motion inhibited by hip dysplasia.

"Did you finally bring me home?" asks Ian.
“Did you finally bring me home?” asks Ian.

After a 14-week stay in the hospital, Ian is brought home. Glory, hallelujah! Though still on a breathing apparatus, he resumes a more normal life with his family, under the watchful eye of his brother.

"Ian, here's my advice," says Dr. Curtis.
“Ian, here’s my advice,” says Dr. Curtis.

Praise God – At age seven, Ian is now at the 98 percentile in height and weight for his age and is taking an advanced course of study in first grade at his school. There are delays in behavioral development though, possibly attributable to his prematurity. But who can be sure whether it’s prematurity or personality.


*  *  *

I wrote a letter to each of my grand-children before their first birthday and sent it to their home address so it would have a post-mark. In Ian’s case, I waited until the one-year mark to write and send his letter. Call it a welcome-to-the-world, a blessing from Grandma/NaNa in writing. Here is a copy of the letter he received:



Ian has not opened this letter yet though he is able to read. In fact, none of the grand-children have opened and read their letters and I’m wondering at what age they should be read. It seems the opening and reading calls for some special occasion. What do you think? I welcome your suggestions!

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful . . . .

Psalm 139: 13, 14   NIRV

Your advice on letter reading welcome. Other comments or suggestions from your own experience. You will always get a reply from me and maybe from other readers. Thank you!

“Every child is a story yet to be told.”   Sesame Street


36 thoughts on “The Million Dollar Baby: Ian’s Miracle Birth

  1. What a beautiful Ian, and a perfect name which means a gift from God and that he is. Love those big eyes. What a blessing. You are such a loving and thoughtful grandmother to think ofgving such a wonderful gift to all your grandchildren with the loving thoughts if their grandmother. If it were me I would think 10 is a great time on their birthday. I would also have a frame ready to help my child frame so they would always have to re-read it. Then again Mom knows best when it’s the right time. I wish I would have thought of such a nice treasure for all of my 18 grandchildren and one great grand. Never too late. Thank you Marian on this heart-warming story. May God bless you all


  2. What a blessing that this fine and strong young grandson is growing up healthy after the early challenges. I love that you wrote a letter to your grandchildren for their first birthday, Marian. No matter when Ian is given the opportunity to read the words you penned for him I’m certain that the letter will be tucked away and will become a precious family heirloom.


    1. I asked my children if they know where the letter/heirlooms are stored. One said, “Probably in our safe.” The other said, “Well, I know we have it somewhere!” We’ll see! Thanks for commenting, Linda.


  3. Thanks for sharing this story, Marian. I never knew about it, but of course it’s only recently that we have been in touch. Sounds like he is an energetic boy now and very normal.


    1. On his Facebook page today, son Joel has posted a photo of Ian modeling a huge wad of clay – it’s not finished yet but looks scary, maybe like something for Hallowe’en! Oh, the wonders of social media. That’s how I keep up with your growing brood, Shirley.


  4. Wow, what a journey. I’m sure it warms your heart too, to think back to what all he has survived! Regarding when to let him read the letter, either when he is young enough not to be embarrassed, or old enough to appreciate it. I kept personal journals for each daughter as they grew, and they knew not to read them. I gave the journals to the two older ones as baby shower gifts, and it has been a source of good information for them, as well as a connection with me as they began their journeys as mothers. To know that I too felt at the end of my rope, etc., lost my patience at times, but they still came out okay, knowing my love, helped them to understand that those frustrations and exhaustion are all normal. And what a great idea to write a letter to grandchildren on their first birthday! It may not be too late for me even though we celebrated one last weekend. Thanks for the tip!


    1. And thanks for your tip – personal journals for each daughter. I can’t think of a more precious baby shower gift. I was so busy feeding, diaper-changing two babies born 19 months apart it never occurred to me to write down my thought except to vent. Instead, I took pictures.

      As you can see, it’s never too late to adopt or adapt memory-making in any form. Excellent writer that you are, I’m sure you will think of something to capture memories of each childhood. Actually, you are doing a great job of doing so on your blog.


    1. I’m thrilled that readers can relate to this story – either vicariously or from first-hand experience. And I’m thankful it’s a story of survival and hope. Thanks for sharing your feelings, Laurie.


  5. What a blessing and a miracle! Thank you for sharing this story of Ian! God does amazing things! I am thankful for your miracle and the one He has done through our miracle baby Noelle who is 3 weeks old and now weighs 3’6oz. She was born at 2’13. She continues to thrive and we are so thankful!


    1. Noelle is on her way. You are traveling the road we traveled seven years ago but with much less apprehension. Yes, thank God for miracles! And thank you for reading and commenting, Diane.


  6. Ian entered the world the same day Anthony, our son, did. On October 5 he turns 38!

    This was a beautiful story that hit home tonight because I have a grand nephew who was also born prematurely and may need to undergo brain surgery. We are praying for him and his family now.

    As for when to read the letters — perhaps as a Coming-of -Age ceremony at age 13? Our small group from church created a ritual and a box with secret compartments where each adult added a blessing. I may want to blog about this. Thanks for the prompt!


    1. So you have a birthday boy too! Aren’t we getting a little matchy-matchy here, Shirley!

      I hope this story gives you and the family of your grand nephew hope. Neo-natal surgery can accomplish marvelous results.

      What a wonderful ritual your church family observes, rather like the bar & bat mitzvahs in the Jewish culture. A box with secret compartments for blessings – what a treasure that would be for the receiver. One idea sparking another. Oh, the pleasures of blogging!


  7. I loved this blog, Marian, for many reasons. Thank you for it. We must be both working under the same set of stars for, as you know, I highlight my grandchildren in my blog this week. And I love that you have written this letter. I’ve heard others speak of this (one young mother I know writes one each year to her daughter and tucks it away; don’t know what the long range plan is. I’ll ask her). I’ve done a few to my sons over the years and put them into their own “box of memories” that I assume they will go through shortly after my memorial service. My grandchildren are of an age now that I write regular letters to them. And, of course, I save each and every response. I have all the letters I wrote my own grandmother; all are tucked away in her own suitcase, just as they came to me after her death. Some day I shall revisit them. Hand written letters — I wonder if, whenever your grandson reads his, they will be the antiquity I imagine (what with email so quick and easy). Hugs to your grandsons, please.


    1. Thank you for taking the time to include such details about your boxes of memories and the letters that fill them. Hand-written too. In a time capsule they would surely qualify as antiquity. I will be happy to spread the hugs, Janet.


  8. What a beautiful and loving testament to this wonder child Marian, thank you so much for sharing it. From the first photograph he looks beautiful. And happy birthday to Ian, this gift from God, for 5th October, my son Michael’s birthday. He’ll be 32.

    I can’t wait for my sons to marry and have children. I can’t wait to be a loving grandparent. (Well, I’ll have to wait – they have to marry first I suppose). I love my grand-nephews to bits though I rarely see them.

    A lovely idea of writing a letter – I’ll pass that idea on to my sister. When? Whenever seems the right moment I guess? You will know ..


    1. Susan, you are the second commenter whose son’s birthday matches perfectly with Ian’s. When the time comes, the same love you share with those grand-nephews will be bestowed full force on your own grandchildren. We had to wait 10 years for grandchildren after the kids married. At first, they were busy coddling two cats and a dog. Somehow now they are able to combine the two ways of nurturing.

      Janet and Melodie in the comments above have more brilliant ideas about memories for the next generation. As always, I appreciate your insight. Thank you, Susan.


  9. Here I sit in a public place holding back the happy tears and am so grateful for the good news. Judging by the photo, he certainly is a regular kid. As a parent to his mother I can only think about how you tended to both, her and the newborn when he was born. Praise God for sure. Truly these tiny ones and today’s medicine are miracles.


  10. What a beautiful letter and wonderful miracle. I love the photos that show how he’s grown into a healthy young boy.
    I was a preemie – 2 months early at 4 pds. 2 oz. (I think). Our youngest daughter, Jenn, was 9 weeks early at 3 pds. 3 oz. She was in the hospital a month before we could bring her home.

    Best wishes to all. When to give him the letter? When you think he’s old enough to understand the love within it. 😉


    1. Along with my faith, what gave me most hope during the days following the early birthday was one of my students who spoke of a family member born teeny-tiny too, like you and your youngest daughter. Sharing stories makes the world go round – and bring s hope and comfort too.


Thank You for Leaving a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s