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the law of averages

November 27, 2012

Eight years ago I was strolling the November-grey streets of Durango, Col thumping around anonymously in his amniotic ocean. I had just begun to feel the first swimmy kicks – those little messages from the inside reminding me, “I’m here, Mama! I’m here!” If that simmer of life had a brand name it might be: world’s luckiest secret.

And I felt lucky, yes, but cautious. I had waited for Dan to be ready to start a family (he insisted we marry first and then asked for another 9 months to prepare), only to conceive, the first time, a terrible mistake: a molar pregnancy, a typo of fertilization in which the placenta mutates in a cancerous fashion until surgically removed. And then another 6 months of blood draws and the doctor-insisted waiting followed.

And so, by the time my belly was rising again, like a hopeful batch of bread, I now knew that wanting a baby didn’t equal getting a baby. Even though a second molar pregnancy was unlikely (a first molar preg. occurs in only 1 in 1500 pregnancies), and this baby’s heartbeat galloped like a stampede of wild horses across the examining table (my midwife promised that once you have a heartbeat, your chances of delivering a healthy baby is over 90%), the law of averages was no longer a place I could rest, eyes closed comfortably in the sun.

Some of you know where this story goes. (The short version is here, today, on Mamalode. Please, do read). While 11% of babies born in the U.S. are born premature, only 1% of all babies are born before 26 weeks. Col was born at 25 weeks, 3 days. Which is to say, my uterine odds haven’t been the greatest.

(But, also, they have! I mean, heavens, look at who’s crawled out of there).

Whittling spoons out of juniper.

Only 20% of babies born at 25 weeks have no lasting problems. I don’t even know what constitutes a lasting problem anymore. Col’s problems are continually shrinking in relation to his big, wonderful life.

November is National Prematurity Awareness month. And it’s interesting, I used to be aware of prematurity every day; it felt like a tight place in my chest or a weepy apology I wanted to offer my son. Now it feels like part of our story, but not the main plot.

Today, I’m donating 25 cents to the March of Dimes (which works tirelessly to prevent prematurity) for every comment on this post. So, say hello, read the short version of the boy who arrived 3 1/2 months early, and take care.



76 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2012 9:01 am

    I am incredibly happy for you that the odds worked out for you and your boy in the end. I have no words, mama. Just tears of joy.

  2. November 28, 2012 9:07 am

    Goodness. Your gratitude just shines through your sometimes misty eyes. Bless your lovely heart. Wish I could tape a quarter to this.

  3. Jonni permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:08 am

    Lots of tears here as well…

  4. November 28, 2012 9:15 am

    Beautifully told. It is inspiring what we can handle and move forward through–thank you for sharing.
    by the way, i am sending a long overdue thanks for the magazines! they are great and i am still reading through the articles. be well!

  5. Laura permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:19 am

    Col is amazing. And your words continually inspire me. Thanks for being you, Rachel:)

  6. Rachel permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:21 am

    Love reading every word that makes it on to this blog – thank you for sharing your life, your gifts and your family!

  7. November 28, 2012 10:14 am

    loving you, your family, and especially the boy with the galloping life force.

  8. Veronica permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:18 am

    He is his own brand of miracle.

  9. permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:21 am

    “Now it feels like part of our story, but not the main plot.” Ah, I love this and am musing on my own story and how maybe the main plot has changed

  10. Kathy permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:26 am

    I am so very happy you can rejoice with your healthy Col! He is so bright and intelligent, just as you hoped he would be. You made the journey with him, not asking for it, but accepting it and taking one day at a time to help him thrive. Whata miracle? But aren’t they all?

  11. November 28, 2012 10:31 am

    bless you and thank you

  12. alex permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:36 am

    the life coming out of your words and family exceeds all kinds of averages and probabilities, thank you for sharing and inspiring.

  13. November 28, 2012 10:45 am

    Wow, that is quite a story about Col’s birth, thank you for sharing it in your special way with words. The pictures and stories I see about Col now sure don’t indicate his precarious start – or maybe they do – his tenacity and determination, maybe they come from the very beginning.

  14. November 28, 2012 10:53 am

    “Now it feels like part of our story, but not the main plot.” Beautiful.

  15. Nathan Daley permalink
    November 28, 2012 11:01 am

    Statistics are helpful when there is a choice. When there is no choice, life continues on its journey and statistics amount to nothing more than “maybe.” Call it magic or miracle, but something comes from nothing, acutal from potential, and it is beautiful, not statistical.

  16. November 28, 2012 11:57 am

    I love that Col’s prematurity no longer takes up so much space in your brain, or your heart. I clicked over to Mamalode, but I can’t guarantee that I will make it through the whole article because it pulls so hard at my heart strings. I’m so happy that prematurity is in our past, and so sad for those that will witness it in their future.

  17. November 28, 2012 12:02 pm

    XO to you, and to Col.

  18. Emmanuelle permalink
    November 28, 2012 12:19 pm

    Dear Rachel, this is one of the most beautiful, deeply moving stories I have ever read. Here I am crying, although I had already read your other testimonies on Col’s fragile beginnings…

    I think even then, between his 24th and 25th week, he was intently, carefully tuning himself to this beautiful journey into his own life, and waiting for the right moment. He is a dedicated boy… And he is supported by all this love, positiveness and intuition from you and Dan.

  19. Bree via e-mail permalink
    November 28, 2012 12:50 pm

    I can’t directly comment to the blog because of wordpress issues but I love the awareness you are bringing to premature births. Your little boy is a miracle :-)

  20. November 28, 2012 1:04 pm

    heavens, indeed. magic, those kids. bravery, that mama and that papa. deep love to you all.

  21. November 28, 2012 1:37 pm

    Rachel, your words are beautiful. Four years ago I tragically lost my precious daughter, Ella, at 26 weeks and our lives were turned upside down. A further miscarriage and two years later the incredible Leo Phoenix roared into our lives….I am whole again, though a part of my heart remains forever exposed. May Col’s future be filled with excitement, adventure and love.

  22. rose permalink
    November 28, 2012 1:41 pm

    hello, dear rachel. xox

  23. November 28, 2012 1:51 pm

    miracles. both col and rose. and you mama clearly have so much love to give.

  24. Suzanne Dobbins permalink
    November 28, 2012 2:26 pm

    Rachel, you are an amazing woman, an exceptional mother, and a fantastic writer. Thank you for sharing yourself with the rest of us.

  25. Heather permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:10 pm

    Lovely, just lovely!

  26. Anonymous permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:11 pm

    What a blessing Col’s health and strength is! Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. November 28, 2012 4:29 pm

    Stumbled upon this blog via another. Thank you for your story!

  28. Anonymous permalink
    November 28, 2012 4:37 pm

    Loving these reprises – and happy they’re no longer so heart-stabbing. And thank you for the information on prematurity – the big context of it – highlighting again the miracle Col is.

  29. ellen884 permalink
    November 28, 2012 5:11 pm

    It’s so good to be reminded of of Col’s early life and the contrast with this healthy happy booy. I hope other early preemie parents will derive some strength and comfort from Col’s story.

  30. November 28, 2012 5:31 pm

    The Spirit of Col, your Eternal Knot of love, all woven like a beautiful tapestry. Thank you for sharing and caring so deeply.

  31. November 28, 2012 6:08 pm


  32. Michelle permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:17 pm

    This is so beautiful and touching!

  33. November 28, 2012 6:17 pm

    That is a beautiful story. It made me cry, and it is amazing to hear how he survived and where you guys are coming from as people and parents. I can’t imagine. I’ve been following your blog for about 8 months when we lived in Seattle. I told a friend I was moving to Durango and she told me about your blog and I’ve been following it ever since. Love your stories, recipes and humor.

  34. Lindsay permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  35. Chi-An permalink
    November 28, 2012 6:34 pm

    Beloved, thank you for sharing. I think we forget all too often that every child comes from miraculous beginnings. Much love to you and yours!

  36. November 28, 2012 7:26 pm


  37. Ivy permalink
    November 28, 2012 8:09 pm

    Just wanted to de-lurk to let you know how much I love reading about you and your family!

  38. Andi permalink
    November 28, 2012 9:18 pm

    Another de-lurker. Ditto to Susan’s post. Your words are amazing, as is your family. This sounds corny, but your blog helps me to be a better mom every day. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  39. November 28, 2012 9:56 pm

    darling, thank you.
    that made me cry.

  40. November 28, 2012 10:09 pm

    Thank you for the hope…I like the idea of prematurity not being an everyday (or moment) thought in my life.

  41. Andrea permalink
    November 28, 2012 10:56 pm

    Congrats on a beautiful child! I can’t wait for the day…my son was born at 23 weeks. He spent 93 days in the NICU and came home lasy month. He’s doing great!!

  42. November 28, 2012 10:57 pm

    Beautiful story. As all of your stories are! I was fortunate to bear witness to the premature arrival of twin girls to dear friends of ours. They were tiny, like your Col, and now are amazingly gorgeous, strong, fierce young women at 16. Your article in mamalode brought back lots of memories. Thank you! <3

  43. Nasha permalink
    November 28, 2012 11:04 pm

    Right on, Momma! And….right on, beautiful Col! You both inspire me every day! He is an amazing, vibrant ray of light! You are both WAY above average:) xo

  44. November 28, 2012 11:44 pm

    I hopped over from Mamalode. What a wonderful story of survival and ultimately, joy. I love the way you phrase things. Can’t wait to catch up!

  45. November 29, 2012 7:27 am

  46. carrie permalink
    November 29, 2012 8:24 am

    Scarily premature babies in my extended family as well, so thanks for supporting MoD today!

  47. carol permalink
    November 29, 2012 10:08 am

    So much to be thankful for! Continued blessings, Rachel.

  48. November 29, 2012 10:29 am

    Hi Rachel, you ever check out this blog? Its not at your level but still some good stuff here and thought you could relate!

  49. Valeta Bruce permalink
    November 29, 2012 1:09 pm

    What a gift and initiation Col’s first seven years has been! Eight and Onward!
    We are so humbled, grateful, more compassionate and wisely awakened and responsive to recognizing grace – thanks to your journey.

    Yours in love and light,

  50. Romy permalink
    November 29, 2012 2:48 pm

    So glad Col fought and made it. I love your blog ever so much.

  51. November 29, 2012 4:08 pm

    Blessings to you and your family, Rachel.

    I LOVE that photo of chubbed-out Col over at Mamalode!


  52. November 29, 2012 4:10 pm


  53. mwieser permalink
    November 29, 2012 5:15 pm

    I often reflect on the reverse side of this, the half cup empty – Yes, I managed to get my girl out of my body in a timely fashion, without big parts missing, but now look – Cavities! Intermittent anxiety! Character flaws! Bad parenting! It’s the zen story – What good luck! Maybe. What bad luck! Maybe. And it’s this: It’s never done til it’s done. And also this: It may not be about what, but rather how – How much grace and joy do we summon, for what happens? Your grace and joy, and your family’s – well, thank you.

  54. November 29, 2012 5:24 pm

    I’m a relatively new reader and wasn’t aware of his prematurity. I spent 6 months of my twin’s pregnancy so concerned about it and learning everything I could so I’d be prepared for the time we’d spend in the nicu. Amazingly I had a failed induction at 41 weeks and the twins were born 5 days later of their own accord. The scariness of all that prep work though- I’m sorry you all had to go through it. You seem to have come out on the other side pretty well!

  55. lemontreelane permalink
    November 29, 2012 8:19 pm

    love the first sentence “Col thumping around anonymously in his amniotic ocean.”

  56. amy permalink
    November 29, 2012 9:28 pm

    Strong boy and strong Mama! Beautiful words.

  57. November 29, 2012 10:50 pm

    I had a baby born at 26 weeks, but alas, he didn’t make it. I love to see how strong and healthy and super cool your son Col is, after all that he has been through in this life. Its awesome.

  58. November 30, 2012 6:10 am

    Rachel, I like your work. You walk that fine line between emotion and sentimentality and always fall on the right side. Your kids do seem particularly ace as well.

  59. Oceano's Mountain Mamma permalink
    November 30, 2012 8:05 am

    you are inspiration.

  60. Ania permalink
    November 30, 2012 9:19 am

    Rachel, I know those feelings so well and I just love the way you are writing about it (as always in such a balanced and nonjudgemental way). Most of all, I’m beyond happy Col is a healthy and beautiful 7 year old, and you are remembering the experience while living good life. Cheers from the mother of a 7 year old healthy and beautiful cancer survivor.

  61. November 30, 2012 10:50 am

    I have been thinking of you and Col all week after getting news from a friend that her daughter delivered her son at 25 weeks and 1 lb. 7 oz. He’s holding on. They’re all holding on. Thank you for the reminder of the wonderful work the March of Dimes does for all of our kids. xo

  62. November 30, 2012 5:25 pm

    Lovely words. today and before. wishing you the best

  63. November 30, 2012 6:32 pm

    You’re right, the odds don’t seem to matter when you’re pregnant. You have experiences that remind you that there are people on the other side of the good odds. Thanks for all you share about your lovely family.

  64. November 30, 2012 8:54 pm

    oh goodness, what a story. how lucky you all are!

  65. December 1, 2012 1:50 am

    That book of yours. It’s coming, I know it. x

  66. December 3, 2012 4:04 pm

    super duper. great photo of the boys practicing archery. :)

  67. December 4, 2012 7:48 am

    What an inspiration you are Rachel. Col chose really terrific parents, just the right people for the job :)

  68. Barb permalink
    December 4, 2012 8:33 am

    yay for raising money (says Cousin Barb the non-profit fundraiser :). You did the very, very most important thing to raise money: you asked! Thanks, xoxo

  69. Emily permalink
    December 4, 2012 8:58 am

    eep! I missed this. Thank you for fundraising… and extending the deadline!

  70. Jen M permalink
    December 4, 2012 10:19 am

    Col and Rose are beautiful children both inside and out (OK, yes, perennial lurker here) and you are one amazing mama! Thanks for being so funny and inspirational! Love the blog.

  71. December 4, 2012 10:31 am

    I feel exactly the same way. Prematurity is now just part of our story. I love that. I’m celebrating our precious kids!!

  72. Jessica permalink
    December 4, 2012 4:52 pm

    Hi Rachel,
    Sorry for the tardiness. Thanks for sharing your family’s story and fundraising for such a great cause.

  73. December 4, 2012 9:59 pm

    So glad I caught your post, my computer was in the shop. So happy that Col has such a galloping spirit and you share your family’s stories. Love your mama warrior spirit, too! Thanks so much, Rachel.

  74. December 4, 2012 11:26 pm

    a first official hello and a thousand thank yous.

  75. Lucia permalink
    December 5, 2012 8:29 am

    Beautiful! All babies are miracles and Col is a special miracle!


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