How to explain to your miracle baby what “miracle baby” means

Our son, Gabriel, has a reputation that precedes him. Allow me to give an example. At our church, we had a visiting priest whom I had not seen in a couple of years. I went to his service with Gabriel and introduced him at the beginning of coffee hour. Father Vadim gave his usual priestly “what a wonderful new baby!” face and we chatted for a little while. Later, another adult asked me how Gabriel’s preemie issues were going, and I provided an update. Father Vadim listened as I explained: “Babies learn to suck at 33-35 weeks in the womb, but he wasn’t in the womb for that… we are concerned about his lungs but so far nothing has shown up… his brain development seems to be normal, but you never know, when you spend 17 weeks out of the womb that other babies get in the womb, everything’s different.”

Fr. Vadim listened to this with a furrowed brow, until he finally exclaimed, “Oh, THAT Gabriel!”

You see, Gabriel had been on the prayer list for our churches on the West Coast for quite a while, and people had heard about him as a record-breaking child, but finally meeting him is quite another event. On Tuesday, I am flying to a church conference, and I am sure that I’ll hear this several times more — “Oh, THAT Gabriel!” when I show pictures and explain about his care.

As he gets older, he will continue to be known as a miracle baby, I think, so this brings me to a question for some of the preemie parents on this list…

How does one explain this to a child who doesn’t know where babies come from? Or, how do I avoid giving my son some kind of complex by talking about this too much?

A 7-year-old friend of Gabriel’s asked what it meant to be premature, and I said, “You know how babies are supposed to take nine months? Well, Gabriel cheated and took five months and now all his birthdays are at the wrong time.”

I’ve sometimes joked that when Gabriel does ask where babies come from, I’ll answer, “Plastic spaceships, and I can prove it,” and show him a picture of him in his incubator. Or, maybe I’ll show him the pictures and say “This is your Darth Baby phase.”

And, then, there will be the temptation, when he is 5 years old and another mother in church goes in to pre-term labor, to haul him to the hospital to show him off… as an exhibit.

So, what have other parents done about this?


One thought on “How to explain to your miracle baby what “miracle baby” means

  1. As the grandmother to 26 week identical twin girls, I knew this would be a question that my granddaughters asked about soon, since they are now three and a half. With Mom and Dad’s permission I made their own birth story book. I assembled pictures of Mommy and Daddy on their wedding, Mommy pregnant through 24 weeks, when she initially went into labor and then 10 days later their first birth pictures which happened to be their parents first wedding anniversary. We had been saying the twins didn’t want to miss the anniversary party and that’s why they arrived early, to lighten the mood when explaining to others their early birth.

    Initially one of the twins was much more fragile than the other and every minute was a blessing that she was still fighting. Then, about 7 weeks into their 96 day NICU stay, we heard the words we longed for “both babies just need to learn to feed and grow!!” So, I carefully chose pictures of their early days in fact only two each, then the rest are when they are having all “the firsts” – kangaroo cuddle, bath, clothes, Mommy holding both together….

    I had bought a small doll to put in baby’s incubator and they have those tiny dolls now, so they know just how small they were, as they lay these fools next to their other baby dolls.

    “Miracle” is used often when others refer to the twins, so I incorporated the word miracle throughout their birth story book. ALL God’s miracles that they would understand were included. Rainbows, the sun, moon and stars are all favorites of the twins. As are newborn puppies and kittens. So, as they read about why they are miracles they also understand about so many of God’s other miracles.

    So far, their birth book is with all the other books in their playroom and gets the same attention from the twins as “Ten Little Monkeys,” or any of the other books they love to read.

    We have 10 grandchildren, with the twins being the youngest. Their cousin’s pictures are in their birth book as some of God’s miracles also. These are the pictures they love – all the family pictures of them playing with their cousins and with Mommy and Daddy and Nana and Grandpa.

    For now, the twins associate hearing themselves referenced as miracles to be on the same level as seeing a pretty rainbow 🌈

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