How Can He Possibly Be Twelve?

He was a miracle child from the beginning. After all, some 10 years prior I had been diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer. We were convinced we weren’t having more children.

So when my wife started having symptoms, she assumed that it was the signs of ovarian cancer. After all, her sister had ovarian cancer at the same age. But the doctor said, “We’ll check for cancer, for early menopause and we’ll do a pregnancy test.”

You can guess which one it was.

It’s all sort of summed up in my stepfather’s comment when we told them, “Good Lord! She’s forty!”

But, he was on the way. And, because of my wife’s health issues, some of which mirrored the issues with our oldest (going on 23), our son came 10 weeks early on February 11, 2000. He weighed in at all of 2.5 lbs.

The next 6 weeks he spent in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Johnston Willis Hospital. But in late March we brought him home.

Because he was so tiny he had to eat every 2 hours. And because he had terrible acid reflux, he had to be held upright for 30 minutes after the feedings. And he had to have medicine in between the feedings. So literally, one of us spent the whole year holding him. The exceptions were when family showed up, or the 2 (or was it 3) hospitalizations. Just before Christmas that year, we all came down with the flu. My wife and older son were sick with it at home. So I spent the night in the hospital with the baby who had become dehydrated. When I brought him home the next morning, it was my turn to be sick. Two days later, we hosted 25 people for Christmas dinner.

Twice (I think) that same year, he was hospitalized for RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). It’s a common cold-like virus. But it’s more of a concern in babies.

When we were making plans for his first birthday party, my wife and I jumped in my truck and headed out while he was at home with family. We realized it was the first time we’d been out together and without him since his birth. We were on the way to the land fill.

So it was a rocky first year. But since that, he’s been remarkably healthy. We did the tonsils and tubes in the ears when he was around three. But he’s been healthy enough that a recent round of strep had me turning to Google to find the location of the doctor’s office.

I think his generally healthy nature is a direct result of the prayer he (we) received during that first year. He was prayed for almost weekly at church. And friends from around the country, and around the world continued to pray for his development.

And I also think that the close contact with us for those 12-plus months have a lot to do with the fact that he’s a very bright child, a very verbal child. This is a child who was building (and blowing up) roller coasters on Roller Coaster Tycooon at age 3. Of course he also deleted Mommy’s Windows account.

With Mom traveling a lot for work these days and me left at home to supervise homework, it’s good to think back on those early months and years. He had a tough time getting, and staying here. But it’s things like that, along with his inquistive (the questions never stop) nature that make me think God’s got a plan for this boy.

As I write this, he’s off on a guys only youth retreat. I’m pretty sure I just don’t want to know.

But when we pick him up tomorrow we’ll have a family dinner. Then we’ve somehow managed to stretch his birthday celebration out for a week with Valentine’s Day and a trip to see The Lion King. And on Saturday we’ll wrap it up with a party with some 16 of his closest friends.

He was born into a pre-9/11 world. A pre Virginia Tech massacre world. A pre Iraq/Afghanistan War World. A world where Vietnam, Ronald Reagan and I Love Lucy are ancient history.

Twelve years. It seems like yesterday.

Happy Birthday, Son.

1 comment

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    • Valerie Hunt on February 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

    On this lazy foggy Saturday morning, with coffee in hand, I sup a post that grants a mini-facelift. A writing that exquisitely celebrates a younger son, a couple’s unexpected blessing from Heaven. I had no idea of the prior underlying maladies and near misses with death. All the more reason to celebrate life today: his and his parents. This writer seems to understand the source of life, have a sound worldview that makes for the genuine gratitude instead of fluffy sentiment. I dig my thawing toes deeper into the back of the master’s kneecaps and begin to spew glee, but am quickly reminded of quiet also being a celebration, particularly on Saturday. May there be many many more celebrations for the Fletchers- of the quiet sort while he’s away and that of the energetic, animated 12- year old little man type.
    Thank you for posting this inspiring, lovely life-event.

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