Everyday Moments are Everyday Miracles
Our son Anthony and his twin sister Alainey were born 13 weeks premature, weighing only two pounds each and not much bigger than a ruler at 13 inches long. They had a very rough start. The twins were on ventilators for 33 days, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 88 days, and were on oxygen for six months at home. Anthony was the sicker of the two.
I can remember one of those evenings in the hospital like it was yesterday. Anthony’s little body was rejecting the ventilator. I prayed over him at his bedside, asking God to please save him, and saying that I was prepared to do whatever it would take to care for him if he could just live.
Well…. fast forward eight years and it’s amazing to me to watch both Anthony and Alainey do everyday activities just like the other kids their age. My husband Brian and I have two other children and were used to assuming that today’s miracles with our children will occur again tomorrow. Prior to going through this life-changing experience with the birth of the twins, we too took for granted the everyday moments such as playing with the neighborhood kids, attending parties of playmates, graduating from preschool, singing in the choir, playing youth sports, and all that comes with parenting young children.
I always knew those moments were special but I didn’t realize how much I took them for granted until I was faced with maybe not ever witnessing them for one of our children.
It has been so amazing to watch Anthony grow and develop over the years. He has been a fighter since day one, and never once complained about the fact that he has a severe hearing loss. Nothing has stopped him from doing any activity that he wanted to do. He always has an answer to any potential obstacle. For example, if he wants to swim with his friends then he just tells them they need to look at him when they’re talking to him in the pool. If it is raining outside and the kids are playing in the rain, he just takes off his hearing aids and deals with not hearing. So, this year when he said he wanted to play tackle football, we knew there would be some problem solving to do, but we also knew that Anthony always perseveres.
Charged with this challenge, not knowing much about football or the equipment, I called our high school football coach, Eric Moore, and asked for his help. I have to be honest; I was afraid that the coach’s schedule might not include worrying about a seven year old boy’s ability to access youth football. I was very impressed with his willingness to help us. He said, “If your son wants to play football, we will find a way.” He also said, “He sounds like a fantastic young man who doesn’t allow his hearing loss to stand in the way of doing anything he wants.” He also complimented us as parents in supporting and doing all that we can to give Anthony these opportunities to try new things.
Coach Moore connected us with the football helmet manufacturer Riddell, and there we had another very positive experience where the salesman worked with us on an unusual project. By the start of football season, Anthony had his own helmet that was custom fitted to wear with his hearing aids.
The football season started and we notice that Anthony was just not picking up on the game as quickly as the other first time players. I wondered if he really was struggling to hear all the incidental language that was happening around him. His coach did a fantastic job of making sure Anthony could see him when he was talking to Anthony but I wondered how well he was hearing all other conversations.
We were blessed once again with this fabulous coach who was willing to do whatever would help Anthony. We asked him to try wearing Anthony’s FM mic. Wow! What a difference. Instantly, Anthony seemed to gain a better understanding of what was happening around him.
I’m so thankful for professionals and great human beings like Coach Moore and Anthony’s Coach Aaron Dotson. It has meant so much to us to be treated with such support and respect in trying to ensure Anthony’s access to the sport he wanted to play. Joining in youth sports is one of those everyday moments that we take so for granted.
I always wonder what the other parents think when they see me getting emotional during some of these everyday moments. It’s very common for me to be brought to tears while watching him run and play outside with the neighborhood kids, perform in a play at school, or run out on the football field for his first game.
I don’t expect that I will be any less emotional in years to come as he continues to experience the world around him.
We would love to honor all of those people along the way who have made each of these everyday miracles as we see them come true for Anthony. Tears may be somewhat embarrassing when no one else around me is crying, but I say “bring them on.” I know what a blessing it is to watch our son, once so critically ill as a 13 week preemie, run and yell and excel in the very things we didn’t dare to dream he might be able to do. ~
Editor’s note: Lisa Kovacs is the Chair of the Indiana Hands & Voices chapter.