It’s when they go through their most rapid development, and watching a helpless infant grow up into a bouncing, alert baby always brings a smile to my face. This video, however, documenting Ward Miller’s first year is particularly gripping. In that short a time, we not only see Ward’s development, but also share the emotional journey of his parents, Lyndsey and Benjamin.
Anyone who has had a child in the hospital knows how much of a strain it can be. When that child is your first child, born prematurely, you can add to that strain all of the fears that go along with being a first-time parent. You probably spent all your free time reading up on birth and parenting techniques. You started formulating your birth plan, and probably had high hopes for breast feeding. Then, everything changes.
You watch your baby, hooked up to monitors, sitting under the bili lights, feeling a mixture of joy, pain and numbness. You know that there is little you can do, and going home for a much needed night’s rest and a shower is the best thing to do, but you still feel guilty whenever you aren’t sitting in the NICU. You go home, and instead of resting, you read too many statistics linking preterm birth with infant mortality rates and future medical problems and neurological disabilities. Preterm babies in the NICU must reach specific developmental markers before they can be released. This can be its own emotional roller coaster as parents are given encouraging news one day, then the next day told that another issue might delay discharge another week.
Ward was born 3 and a half months early. This puts him at the “very preterm” or “extremely preterm” range, depending on the specific week of his birth. He is on multiple monitors and assistive devices for feeding and breathing. But as we see him develop and grow, my heart overflows with joy. By the end of the video, as we see him kicking his legs and laughing, you would never guess that he had such a rough start.
Based on the public response to this video, Benjamin and Lyndsey posted a second video updating everyone on Ward’s status. He is doing very well, and even doctors are amazed by his progress. Both parents are proud of how far Ward has come, but especially wanted to thank everyone who supported them during the toughest part of the journey. While Ward was in the NICU, they received a care package from Graham’s Foundation, an organization to give support to parents of preterm babies. During that difficult time, it gave them strength to know they were not alone.
Watching Ward grow into a healthy baby was truly heartwarming. It’s great to know that there is a community to help parents in this position, and that there are many instances like Ward’s, of a preterm baby growing up to be as healthy and happy as any other.