I heard my mother telling the story of my birth to some poor soul at our party on Saturday. It is a story I have heard a number of times and I have heard multiple variations on the story. In this particular telling, Mom said that I would only sleep for five minutes at a time and I broke out into a rash every time the sun hit my delicate preemie baby skin. I think my parents liked telling people the story of my birth because of the three of us, mine was the most dramatic. There's alway lots of oohs and ahhhs when they disclose how much I weighed at birth. I can still see Dad holding out his hand, palm facing up, as he would tell about how my tiny body fit right there and point to his hand. Mom always mentions the beautiful bouquet of flowers that she received from a close friend who also happened to be our milkman. This time though, my mom said something I had never heard her say before. She said "They told us she probably wouldn't live."
In all the tellings of that story, it never once dawned on me that I was in any kind of danger other than just being born tiny. I did not suffer with lung issues or heart problems. I do have allergies, but not more so than any normal birth person would have. I am healthy and despite some broken bones and a tonsillectomy, I have always been healthy. So I never really thought much about my birth as more than a regular birth but just a little early. Like a month and half early. A study of 148 premature infants from 1966-75 that weighed 1000g or less found that 48 of those babies survived. That's less than a 50% survival rate. More like 32%. Not bad, but I can't imagine that hearing your doctor tell you that your baby has a 32% chance of living is all that reassuring. I've heard people say that your birth story plays a big role in defining the person you become. Je suis forte. I guess I just never really saw myself as that strong. Survivor strong.
Did the Fates see my future and say to themselves "This girl better be strong or die now."? Probably not, but it makes a nice cartoon in my head. I can see Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos each holding my life thread, tugging it between them to see how far they can stretch it before it feels like it might snap. Maybe Clotho and Lachesis kept Atropos from snipping it with her scissors or they found the thread to be too strong to be snipped. It makes a nice visual and I am thankful that I ended up as one of the 32%. I am thankful to have a mother who is strong enough to survive a child like me. I am also thankful for the other women in my life who were part of the tribe who raised me. All of them played a hand in shaping the woman I am today.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend and a truly Thankful Friday.