He’s a Panthers’ fan. A Heat fan. A Yankees’ fan.
He’s on the honor roll, loves ESPN, anything Adidas, tacos, chicken nuggets, bacon. Especially bacon. And strawberries, the juicier the better.
As you read this, he’s celebrating his big 1-0.
Big deal, you say. Approximately 6,000 males in this country are celebrating their 10th birthday on May 25.
He’s in this world thanks to “in-vitro” fertilization, a process by which the dad’s sperm fertilizes the mom’s egg outside the mother’s body and is transferred into the uterus about five days later.
Double big deal, you say. About 25,000 in-vitro kids are born in the U.S. every year.
True. But how many kids, that is, um, embryos, have had the implosion of a 10-story building delayed simply to assure their safe transfer into the cozy confines of the uterus?
Only one that I know of.
And that is none other than Preston Gordon, a rising fifth-grader at J.V. Washam Elementary in Cornelius. His parents, Denise and Steve Gordon, look at him every day and marvel.
He’s their one and only. Their miracle child, they say.
So happy birthday, Preston, and listen to the story of your birth.
• • •
Once upon a time, a man and a woman longed for a baby to call their own.
Each was healthy as could be – they’d been checked by specialists – but no matter how hard they tried, no baby was on the way.
One day, after they felt they’d tried everything, they agreed to a method called in vitro.
Your dad’s sperm fertilized your mom’s eggs and, voila, five embryos.
One of those embryos, Preston, would become you.
So far so good.
But trouble lurked.
The Carolinas Medical Center in-vitro doctor, Brad Hurst, learned that a nearby building, the Doctors Building on Kings Drive, was to be dynamited on the very day – Nov. 3, 2001 – he planned to transfer the embryos into your mom’s uterus.
Oh, no! he thought. What if dust particles from the implosion should blow over to CMC, zip through the hospital’s powerful filtration system and contaminate the embryos.
Engineers said there was only a slim chance any particles would reach his lab. But the good doctor wasn’t about to take the tiniest chance.
Hurst requested a delay in the implosion, and CMC officials backed him.
Several days later, your parents heard the words they’d longed to hear for eight years: “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”
Your mom was so excited she couldn’t believe the news. She was sure she’d get a call saying the test was wrong.
Your dad, of course, was beside himself with happiness.
That December, your parents learned your mom was carrying one embryo only – and that embryo was you, Preston. They were thrilled.
Now here comes more trouble.
In early spring, your mom got a call saying her routine pap smear showed abnormal cells. She must go back in for treatment.
You’d been growing inside her now for 19 weeks. When the gynecologist started to treat the cells, she was shocked to see that your mom was two centimeters dilated, which meant you were threatening to arrive early – too early.
It takes about 40 weeks for a baby to develop fully. At 19 weeks, chances are you wouldn’t have survived.
At the hospital, doctors stitched you in tight and ordered her to bed.
“We need time,” the doctors said.
Your poor mom was too distressed to read or watch TV. Some programs were too ridiculous, she said, and some too dramatic. So she lay on the sofa, day after day, praying you’d stay right where you were.
You hung in there, Preston. For 11 more weeks. Good job.
But at 30 weeks, your mom felt contractions, indicating you wanted out. She and your dad rushed to the hospital. The doctors gave your mom medicine to slow you down. You stayed put for another week.
When you insisted on arriving at 31 weeks, doctors warned your parents you might be sickly for a while, that your progress wouldn’t be straight upward and that – this was the scariest – you might not breathe right away after delivery.
You showed ’em, Preston. You arrived at 7:47 a.m., May 25, 2002, a strapping 3 pounds, 14 ounces. You took a deep breath and let out a yowl.
Thirty days you stayed in intensive care, and each day you improved. When you went home on June 26, you wore a monitor to alert your parents if you forgot to breathe.
At last, when you turned 2, your mom and dad relaxed.
You’re probably wondering about those abnormal cells the doctor found.
When your mom returned for a check after your birth, everything was perfectly normal.
You know what she believes?
She believes that being called back to the doctor’s office when she was 19 weeks pregnant was Divine Intervention. Otherwise, she might have lost you and never known why.
So happy birthday, Preston. Please don’t mind if your mom and dad should get a little weepy on this special day. And rest assured, no matter how old you get, you’ll always be their miracle baby.