I was born on August 22nd, 1978. Every year around my birthday I am reminded that I was supposed to have died
My mother, young and frightened, felt her contractions starting late one evening and was rushed to the hospital. She was told that she was in labour. Scared, she did what she could to stop the labour. It was too early, it was too soon.
There was a reason for her fright. But the birth had not been an easy one. It had lasted forty eight long hours; by the end of it my mother was close to physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion.
The first problem was that my twin brother and I were born three months premature. Any number of problems could have occurred at the beginning of the birth; but thankfully Robert came out fine.
I would be the one to cause problems.
When Robert came out, he turned me so that I was feet first instead of head first. I could not, or would not, come out of her womb. Jailed with a cellmate for six months, I was content to swim in the space now afforded to me.
I had already stayed in the womb too long, however. The doctor, forgoing medical procedures, reached in and pulled me out.
According to my mother, I was a sickly blue colour. “You looked like a little blueberry.” She would tell me later. “I waited what seemed like forever to hear you cry.”
Finally I did make a sound but the doctor was worried. I had been in the womb too long. He was sure I had suffered brain damage and would die sometime that evening.
For the next eight hours, people prayed.
My father was a practicing Ba-hai at the time. He and his congregation prayed for me to live. My mother, alone in the hospital, held my hand through an incubator glove. According to her I held on for dear life and would not let go.
Amazingly, the power of prayer worked. I had survived the night.
The doctor was amazed. “He won’t survive another night.” He told my mother. “And frankly, if he does, he’ll never be able to walk and he’ll be a vegetable.”
You can guess what my mother told him.
But, against the odds, I continued to thrive. Doctors and nurses studied me; they watched me and poked me, took notes and shook their heads.
I was supposed to have died. By all rights, I should have. But I continued to do better day after day. Another doctor came and talked to my mother.
“He should have died.” He told her. “He should have been dead when he left the womb.” The doctor shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. He should have died but he’s still alive.” The doctor looked solemn. “He’s Gods child now.” he told her.
Other doctors called me a miracle baby. But to my mother, I was simply her son.
Life has not bee easy however. I was born with spastic Cerebral Palsy, scoliosis of the spine, underdeveloped internal organs, complications with my motor skills, severe learning disabilities and a host of other problems.
But none of that matters to me.
I think this has to do with the fact that I am more thankful than most. I am thankful for every day I have, every day I live despite my afflictions and complications. I am thankful for the chance to breathe and to walk, however painful.
And I am thankful for those around me.
Birthdays are not the dire progress of age like they are for most people. For me, Birthdays are a celebration of life. Birthdays are a reminder of what could have been and what is.
Every year I am reminded that I should not have lived. Every year I am reminded that I am here through the grace of some higher power to do some good on this Earth. Every year I am reminded that it was not medical science that kept me alive.
It was the love of my mother.