Until I had something to say…

For a number of years I have considered writing my own blog. At various times I thought I had something to contribute to “the series of tubes”. This thought was usually brought on by a temporary surge of ego that was soon squashed by reality:

  1. A realization that I am not the next Jeffrey Zeldman (Web Design / Standards Icon), Lance Armstrong (born on a bicycle) or David Plouffe (political campaign wizard)
  2. Competition with my many hobbies/interests/obligations
  3. While I was more than happy with the sites that I designed for others, I was unsuccessful in designing a site for myself that I thought would do a good job of representing me and my goals.

In short — I didn’t think I had something worth writing, the time to write it, or a venue worthy of presenting it.

In the past year (plus a little bit) I believe I have lived the experiences that are worth reading about, and I’ve resolved to take the time to share them.

Something worth reading

John was born on Easter morning April 12, 2009 at 28 weeks and 6 days weighing 4 pounds and 1 oz. He was very ill from a bacterial infection. In the beginning it was hour by hour. Within the first 48 hours of his life we were faced with a decision: did we want to continue support? John’s blood pressure was critically low. If his blood pressure did not improve we would have to face the possibility that John’s life would be measured in days not years. It was clear John was a fighter and we chose to continue life-sustaining support.

We did not get to hold John until he was 11 days old. In his 7 weeks in the NICU John was on an Oscillator, Ventilator, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), and a Nasal Cannula. His first trip was in an ambulance to Children’s Hospital where a VP shunt was inserted to relieve pressure in his skull due to hydrocephalus.

Thanks to all of the amazing people at St. Joseph’s Mercy Ann Arbor and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, John came home when he was seven weeks old (after 52 days in the NICU and still 26 days before his due date) on no medication, just vitamins. Today John is a nearly a year old and is growing like a weed!

During the upcoming weeks I’ve decided to do my best to mentally reconstruct on this blog what life has been like for me and for our entire family since John came into our lives a year ago. One motivation behind this goal is perhaps a bit self serving.  Through all the hustle and bustle of having your first child be born 11 weeks early you never think to really get down in words what happened when (on a human level). I want to really capture these memories for my own family’s recollection before some of the finer points get lost in the blur.  I also hope that maybe John’s story can be of help to a family that may be going through a similar set of circumstances.

What does “Miles 4 Milestones” mean?

New parents have a dizzying array of recourses to draw from regarding the art and science of raising a newborn. Most (if not all) of these resources (whether that resource is a book, a website or maybe even an iPhone app) are centered on a child’s developmental milestones.

Parents of preemies know all too well that these milestones are what they think about while they are with their child, while they are at work, while they cut their lawns and while they sleep. Milestone can help a parent determine whether their child needs some sort of intervention to help them attempt to “catch up” with their full term-born peers.

OK that explains the “Milestones” part, but what about the “Miles”?

Since around 2005 I began participating in endurance sports. This would probably come as a surprise to those who knew me before this point as up till then I was not know at all for athletic pursuits.

It started with cycling when I decided to participate in the 2005 Michigan MS Society Bike Tour, the MS150 (150 miles in two days). Soon after getting into cycling I started running (mostly short course distances). In 2008, at the urging of a friend, I joined the Ford Athletic Swim & Triathlon club and completed my first triathlon (sprint distance).

A few short months later, my wife and I learned that we would be expecting our first child at the end of June 2009. Based on my wife’s expected due date, I planned on doing a late-May / early-June triathlon and that would be “it” for 2010.  Little did I know what life had in store.

Like many parents before me I threw myself headfirst into the job of being a parent. The stories from every person who ever told us that having a child changed you – “in a good way” – at one time seemed a bit cliché. Then John was born. Now I think that these same parents were holding back by not saying just how fantastic having a child could be.  Maybe all parents experience the same feelings.  Personally speaking, I think this is a phenomenon that is amplified when you are faced with your own child’s mortality.

OK that was before. What about now?

On top of deciding to write this blog, I also decided to allow myself the time to begin getting active again. Things are definitely going to be different than they were before I was a parent. First of all for this season I’m probably going to focus on doing running events and duathlons. For now, it is much easier to work running & cycling workouts around John’s schedule.  I’ll probably also be doing a great deal more of my training closer to home (running in my neighborhood and cycling on a stationary trainer).

I feel that I will better accomplish becoming the parent I want to be when I’m also taking care of the needs I have from a health and fitness perspective. Also, I believe that my participation in these fitness pursuits (and my blogging about these pursuits) will put me in a better position to contribute to the missions of such organizations as the March of Dimes, Hydrocephalus Association and St. Joseph Mercy NICU by allowing me opportunities for fundraising.

John has already accomplished a great many things that would not have been possible without the efforts of these organizations and others.  He is teaching me, day by day, that everything is possible!

My Wife and I are both participating in this years March for Babies. Please consider donating to either Jessica’s or my walk in this year’s march. One day… All babies will be born healthy. We need to walk to get there.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Until I had something to say… -- Topsy.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Seymour/100000172448453 Lisa Seymour

    Beautifully written Michael ! You, Jessica and John have an inspiring story to tell. I can't wait for the next installment. Thank You!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.l.mistak Jessica Larkin Mistak

    Well put! It is difficult to record the experience while it's happening because there is so much that has to be done there is little time to write. John and I are so proud of you.

  • Erika Kolodge

    WOW!! Very beautiful!! I started to tear up when I first saw the picture of you and John Michael because it took me right back to when Luke was born. After reading, tears were streaming. I know exactly what you went through. It is such an emotional journey with a preemies. I almost collapsed on the floor when I went to see Luke after about 7 days after his birth 10 weeks early and the Dr.'s met me at the door of the NICU and told me they had been trying to call me all night. (Someone had wrote down the wrong contact number) I looked around searching for my baby and immediately broke down. I thought I had lost him. When I saw him again he was on a ventilator and having apnea attacks every few seconds. He also had a bad infection that spread to his blood and spinal cord and his tiny body was trying to give up. Luke was life flighted to U of M. After a LONG period of Luke being in the NICU and Mott's Childrens Hospital I got to bring my baby home on MY BIRTHDAY!!! Luke is now a very happy healthy 2 year old. I hope this Blog helps others get through what Michael, Jessica, myself and our sweet baby boys went through. Miracles happen all the time and we have living proof of this.

  • Jackie

    How could someone write down the wrong contact number?!? Are they human? How dare they! (seriously, I would've lost my mind in that situation)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.l.mistak Jessica Larkin Mistak

    I don't like initial struggle, obviously, but the outcome for Luke. I can't believe they didn't write the number down correctly, what a nightmare. Minutes matter in situations like that.

  • Karen

    You probably don't remember me, but I remember you guys.

    I came to read your blog because Jessica put a link on her FB page. I didn't know that John and Nathan were the same weight at birth. What a fighter you guys have (and a cutie too). You're right. Everything stops when you have a NICU baby. The things you planned, get shelved until later. I admire that you're getting back in the game. That's terrific.

    My husband and I also did the MS150. He rode it twice, and I rode it once and volunteered the next year. My butt can't handle the second day!

  • Grandma Pat

    Love the First Birthday photo montage, Mike. What a year it has been!