As a writer, we know that perspective is everything. We build our character's lives out of drama, tragedy, and hope. When those issues become our own, we really learn about perspective. My friend Van's very personal story will offer a little perspective for those of you who might be feeling the pressures of life. Van is an accomplished writer, a father, and a very generous and kind friend. It's my pleasure to introduce to you author Van Heerling.
Last year my life was put on pause. No writing, no going out to eat with friends, no—you name it.
My son, Ashton was born a micropreemie. He weighed in at a whooping one pound ten ounces. He is doing very well now, and is on the other side of his first year.
My wife and I knew that he was going to be small. Our doctors told us that he would be around two and a half pounds. You can imagine our distress when we were told just how small he’d turned out to be.
Ashton spent eighty days in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). We’d go to the hospital either in the morning before work or after work. Many times we couldn’t stand it and had to be there in the morning and the evening. It just didn’t feel “right” being home without him.
During our visits we’d ask him how he was doing and if he was being treated well and if he had made any friends. There were as many as six other preemies to a room and several nurses. I know that it sounds silly to do this, but it helped to sooth us as parents and build an even a stronger bond between the three of us. Whenever we would leave we would be sure to tell him when we were coming back. “Okay Ashton, we’re going home now but we will be back tomorrow at eight.” It isn’t the message per se that counts. It is the touch and the love that communicates through the words that matter.
Something very interesting was happening. He was putting on weight and all of the doctors concerns about potential heart problems and possible brain bleeds fell away. Doctor’s orders were now: “grow little man, grow!” We praised him all the way along as he continued to make progress. To say there weren’t some very difficult times would be untrue. Yes there were. The first time my wife held him his heartbeat dropped and it was somewhat serious. Over time we had a lot of those types of scares, but we just kept chugging forward.
We were always positive. Not overly so, or in an obnoxious way, but in a genuine way. There is no sense in being tremendously worried or crying your eyes out everyday. Not to get too spiritual about all this, but I felt if I were to fully express my worry it would just bring “bad vibes” to the situation. I did however express my concerns with my wife and our doctors, but only when we weren’t around him. We found that being calm and in good spirits, seemed to help put our nurses at ease so that they could do their job. More than once we found out that some nurses cheered when they found out they would be taking care of our boy for their shift, mainly because we as the parents we so inviting.
To say that if you think good thoughts only good things happen is not what I am saying. It was the hospital staff with their wonderfully competent nurses and doctors that pulled our boy from the brink.
I only wish to point out that being worried to the point of distraction to the child, nurses and doctors may not be in the best interest for all parties concerned including the parents. Save all the negativity for when you get home if it truly needs expression at all.
With the celebration of Ashton’s first birthday he is about fourteen pounds and seems like a
very happy little baby. He can scoot like crazy. He is still well under weight but it is of little concern. He has plenty of time to catch up.
It looks like he will be a reader because whenever he gets too upset I plunk down a couple books in front of him and he just digs right in. He’s my little page-turner.
If you have had a similar experience to mine, I would like to hear about it. Mainly I would be curious as to how you were able to cope with the situation. Perhaps your comments will help someone in the future.
Oh, and I’m writing again.
Van lives in Burbank, California with the lingering spirit of Redford—his adopted morbidly obese cat, which was more of a paperweight than a feisty feline, his wife and boy and their very alive kitty—Abigail.
Van always enjoys hearing from his readers. If you wish to send your comments you may do so at www.vanheerlingbooks.com
Van's website: www.vanheerlingbooks.com
Twitter: @vanheerlingTwitter handle: