Hi, I’m Matthew Haronian, and I’m 10 years old. I was born 14 weeks prematurely on December 21, 1995. When I was born I weighed only 2 pounds and was 13 inches long. Now, I’m a lot like anyone else. My friends never guess I’m premature and don’t know until I tell them! The only “problem” that is left over from being a preemie is weakened vision in my right eye. My interests include karate, piano, swimming, tennis, golf, video games and acting. I recently got a big role in the school play, Aladdin Jr. I was also picked to be in the PPAC production of Evita. As for karate, I have been doing it for 5 years. I’m a green belt, which is 2 belts away from a black belt.
That is all beside the point. The real point is, being a preemie doesn’t affect me much. I know I am premature, because my parents tell me; but other than that, you could never tell.
Submitted by Matthew Veloso Haronian
I remember during the C-section immediately after Matthew was born at 26 weeks, the anesthetist leaning down and saying very quietly, “Congratulations.” As an anesthesiologist having an extremely premature baby and believing I understood the challenges ahead, I can only say that I felt at that moment like crying. Had I truly known what lay ahead, I would have popped open the best bottle of champagne and celebrated. These things are easy to say in retrospect. At the time, I was frightened, angry and anxious, to say the least. The birth of your first child teaches you something about vulnerability, but the birth of a premature child magnifies that lesson many fold.
My son stayed at the Women & Infants’ Special Care Nursery for 10 weeks. Even though the staff was compassionate and dedicated, and the care was excellent, they were very long weeks. The nurses had tried to prepare me for the inevitable setbacks saying the typical preemie takes “two steps forward and one step back.” Even so I was totally devastated by the first of several 3 am phone calls telling me of one complication or another. I mourned the loss of a normal pregnancy. I was angry that my child had to undergo such seemingly extreme treatment in order to stay alive. And most of all, I could not imagine that this child, having had such a start, could ever have a normal future. I would say to the nurses, “How can it be possible that he can ever recover from all of this and be normal?” They would say, “We’ve seen it time and again. It’s hard to believe, but these babies are incredibly tough.”
Can I say that I thought they were just trying to comfort me? Given my background in science and medicine, I am given to skepticism unless I see hard evidence in front of me. Well, the hard evidence is my intelligent, handsome, talented 10 year old boy (Oops, am I bragging?). Earlier I mentioned that having a premature child teaches you about vulnerability, but it also teaches you about something else – hope. God bless you and your families.
Submitted by Christina Veloso