A Good News Story About 'Imperfect' Pregnancy

Those little flutters in a pregnant woman's stomach aren't always just the baby kicking. They're also a mocktail of excitement, joy and plenty of nervous energy.

Have you felt them before?

Those nerves might be about the next scan, the birth or even a little fear about a pregnancy that doesn't go perfectly to plan. A premature birth, for example.

That's why I want to tell you a story and help you calm those nerves.

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I'd like to tell you about an amazing man. One of the most incredibly compassionate, honest, witty and selfless men you would ever hope to meet. Need I mention that he's also absolutely gorgeous!

I was lucky enough to meet Mr Wonderful and am very proud to call him my husband.

Mr Wonderful, or Ren as he is otherwise known, works full-time in the corporate sector. He's mad keen about everything related to soccer and (when he's not watching it, talking about it or playing it) coaches a local team each year. Ren's a great cook, has a fantastic bunch of friends and is the eldest in his family.

Oh, and one more thing about Ren, he was born three months premature.

I didn't mention it sooner because it's such an irrelevant part of his life now. Everything about Ren is "normal" (for lack of a better word) and his premature birth has left no physical or mental deficiencies.

Of course, when Ren was born nearly four decades ago, it was an extremely relevant and important part of his life. As it also was for his mother and father, who had sadly lost another premature child at birth some years earlier.

Ren made a premature entrance into the world kicking and screaming - much like he does on the soccer field today. He weighed just 2 pounds, 2 ounces and was about the size of a soft drink can.

Neonatal equipment was less advanced in the 70s compared to today, although Ren was closely monitored in the hospital for several weeks.

At one stage, his weight dropped to just over one pound and he was given a 50/50 chance of living. Fearing the worst, his parents had him baptised in the hospital.

Ren's mother, Joan, recalls that her fragile son's mouth was too small for a bottle or breast feeding so she would feed Ren with a little liquid dropper every few hours.

"It took him an hour to consume just 50mL of fluid and then his stomach would swell up and you could see all the veins through his tissue-thin skin," Joan told me with a reminiscent smile.

His thigh was about the size of your thumb and there were no nappies or baby clothes small enough to fit around his tiny body. Handkerchiefs had to suffice for nappies and dolls clothes were used until Ren grew.

Joan read books to him nearly every day, through the transparent walls of the humidicrib, as his weight increased and he became stronger week by week.

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After six and a half weeks, Ren's parents were overjoyed that his health was improving and he could come home. In coming years, they were delighted that he continually met all of the usual milestones for mental and physical development.

Several years later, Ren's two younger brothers were born, also some months prematurely. Just like their older brother, both boys have grown into wonderful adults, with no signs that they were ever so premature.

Ren's brothers are married and now starting families of their own. They have also excelled in their respective careers and share the same enthusiasm for sport.

There was no clear reason for their premature births. Ren's mother and father were in their early twenties and in excellent health. Both parents were (and still are) mentally and physically fit and extremely proud of how their precious, premature boys have grown into exceptional men.

I know that not every premature birth has the same outcome and my intent in writing this was not to offend those who may have been less fortunate. Rather, I'm writing this simply to share a positive 'success story' about premature births.

I've heard the anguish and fear in the voices of new or expectant mothers, concerned that their child was or might be born prematurely.

I've also witnessed the concern of new mothers that their premature baby may not be "normal."

Had Ren not told me of his premature birth I would never have known. Today I look at him and simply see my amazing, handsome husband.

Of course, every birth situation is different but please know that premature babies can grow up into intelligent, talented and responsible adults. I should know because I married one!