Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 05:52:05 -0500

Slow Start, Fast Finish


If you're looking for running news or views in this column, stop reading right now. Take the week off, as I did from writing about the sport in favor of a better subject: the birth of the first child in the next generation of Hendersons.

If you're still with me, I want to introduce grandson Noah, my daughter Sarah and her husband Mark's boy. To the right we're making our first eye contact.

After this meeting, I wrote Noah a letter that he might or might not read someday. (Readers will always have that power over writers.) It reads in partů

Dear Noah:

You're less than two weeks old as I write this. Your weight just crept above the minimum requirement for winning your release from the hospital. You have moved home with parents who already had shown, even more than most mothers and fathers do, how much they wanted you.

Shortly before your arrival I wrote our annual New Year's letter. It used to be the "Christmas" letter, but I rarely met that deadline. This time I also missed the later one, for reasons that will soon become clear.

The letter called you a "miracle child." Every new child is a miracle, of course, but you even more so. Every child is lucky to be here, but that's especially true for you.

Without huge assists from medical science -- before conception, then again late in pregnancy, through delivery and beyond -- we never would have known you. You were a slow starter on your path into this world, then a fast finisher.

Your parents tried for a pregnancy the usual way. It wasn't happening, so they looked into other possibilities.

Adoption would have been the final option. But first they would try in-vitro fertilization.

Success on the first try! You wanted to be here as much as your parents wanted you.

More news followed. You were a boy (my three step-granddaughters are all girls), were carrying no apparent genetic defects (your mom has a sister with Down syndrome), and weren't a twin or part of a larger team (a strong possibility with in-vitro).

Mom's pregnancy went as smoothly as anyone could hope -- until the very end of 2006. You were doing fine, but mom developed a potentially serious complication. On New Year's Day the doctor ordered her into the hospital, to stay in bed until your arrival.

That could have been a long stay, since your due date wasn't until mid-February. Mom couldn't wait that long. On January 6th the doctor decided to hurry you into the light. You arrived after only a few hours' hard labor, and without the possible C-section.

You weighed in at three ounces less than five pounds. Before your parents could be alone with you, you were rushed off to the neonatal ICU.

I saw you briefly in the "nick-you," but the staff kept you so busy your first day that you didn't notice me. There you stayed for more than a week of close preemie-monitoring before your parents could have you all to themselves at home.

You weren't due until Valentine's Day. Thank you for letting us all fall in love with you six weeks early.
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