|By: Jon Burks, father to "Jr. E-Males" Austin (37 wks; 2 yrs) and Eric (28 wks; 9 mos GA; 6.5 mos corr)|
|On November 27, 1996, at 3:19 PM, Eric Hakes
Burks entered the world, twelve weeks early. I'd like to take advantage of the first
anniversary of my son's birth to express how proud I am of how far he has come and how
optimistic I am about his possibilities for the future.
On his birth date, Eric had no name, as he had arrived too early for Mom and Dad to have settled on one. The nickname "Thor," coined by his primary nurse, was steeped in irony. Such a virile moniker for such a fragile little boy. Twelve months later, everyone agrees that there is no more fitting name for our little strawberry-blond dynamo.
On November 27, 1996, Eric weighed a mere 2 lbs 6 oz. Today is his first birthday and he weighs 22 lbs 12 oz, a body weight increase of nearly 1000%!
Eric's first diaper was little more than a 4"x4" gauze pad taped around his mid section. Now he's squeezing into size "4" Huggies!
During Eric's hospitalization, his bout with elevated bilirubin levels resulted in a long-term total bili level as high as 18. When last tested, four months after discharge, Eric's bili level was lower than his father's!
When Eric was born, he could have been dressed in doll's clothes, were it not for the IV's and monitor leads that were in the way. On November 27, 1997, he's wearing the same size pants (albeit cuffed) as his two and a half year old brother Austin. And they very nearly wear the same size hat as well.
On November 27, 1996, Eric was still covered with a fine coat of lanugo, giving him the appearance of a tiny man wearing fur-covered long johns. Last week, Eric endured his first haircut. His ultra-fine hair still stands nearly straight up on top, likening his coiffure to that of Don King or Lyle Lovett, but he received a very neat trim around the ears and neckline. Daddy thinks he looks like a little stockbroker.
When Eric was born, as is typical of a 28-weeker, he was unable to take any food orally, as his digestive system was too immature to process the food. A year later, he will shove Cheerios into his mouth as fast as you hand them to him. His favorite food is bread (this is one acorn that didn't fall too far from the tree), although he is awfully fond of beans as well. At least it's a good source of protein.
For nearly the entire duration of Eric's hospitalization, he suffered from Apnea spells (for a variety of reasons). Twelve months later, he breathes all the time, without any additional stimulation or assistance. Although the sound of the smoke detector does dredge up unpleasant memories of the apnea monitor alarms.
While in the NICU, Eric once went 10 days without stooling. Now he's a typical one-year-old who averages two to four per day. Perhaps everything about his hospital stay wasn't all bad.
From the moment he arrived, Eric captured his parent's hearts, as well as that of nearly everyone who has met the little stinker. I'm happy to say nothing has changed in that regard. If anything, we're even more crazy about him than we were a year ago. All he has to do is flash you one of his grins and the weight of the world lifts off your shoulders. It's somewhat amazing that one little boy can cause so much stress and anguish and also such profound joy. I suspect the bond formed in the crucible of the NICU is as strong as any between a parent and child.
It seems a fitting coincidence that Eric's first birthday falls on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, as we certainly have a great deal to be thankful for. Happy Birthday, Eric. Mommy, Daddy, and Austin love you so very very much.
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