Who can understand the challenges a preemie dad faces other than the men who’ve taken on this exact role? When a child is born via preterm birth the attention usually goes to two places: the baby and the mom. If the newborn has young siblings, these sometimes will get to share in being the center of focus, but what about dad?
February 26th is soon to arrive yet again. At The Gift of Life, this is a special day of celebration because it is Marcus Moore’s birthday. For those who don’t know, he is the co-founder of our organization, husband to founder Rosie Moore, and the dad of Miracle Kaleb – who was born a preemie but beat the odds through grace and is now an inspiring young boy.
The preciousness of time is one thing any devoted father of a preemie knows well; he has no guarantee that he will get to see his child grow up. Of a truth, no parent can accurately predict how much time he or she will have with their children; life can change in an instant. The unpredictable nature of change is can feel far more volatile, however, when the child is a preemie.
We want to make the most of the time we have – at least we ought to. Men who are dads ought to want to be the best fathers they have the potential to be.
See, it is all too rare today to find men who are man enough to take their fatherhood seriously and stand by their kids. Many complain that it’s just too hard – and that’s when the baby is born healthy and normally.
They refuse to see what a blessing it is to have your child born full-term. What happens when the child has special needs? What happens, for instance, when the baby is born weighing only one pound, so tiny they can fit in the palm of your hand?
Marcus might not consider himself to be a superhero, but he’s Superman to Rosie and Kaleb. In fact, in the telling of his story any dad of a preemie can find the courage to soar in his role as a father. What they’ll discover is that it is actually not beyond human strength. Therefore, in celebration of Clark Kent…ahem…Marcus’ birthday…
The 3 things it takes to be a great preemie dad:
1. Be There
Before Kaleb was born, Marcus worked as a counselor/caseworker at Orlando Metro Treatment Center, an out-patient detoxification center for individuals getting off of heroin and pain medication addictions. In fact, his employment history features an extensive and successful track record in which Marcus fulfils roles that make a substantial positive impact on people’s lives, holding positions such as Vocational Employment Counselor and Life Skills Educator.
In June of 2009, Marcus had to resign from his position as a counselor because he became a preemie dad – it’s not what all fathers of preemies are called to do, of course, but it’s what his newborn son needed him to do at the time, so he did it.
Marcus Moore, the successful professional, quit his job so that he could take care of Kaleb, his preemie son. He did not put his salary above the needs of his child – even though premature babies are prone to having a number of pricey expenses thanks to the condition of their health. Standing on faith, he made the sacrifice that he saw fit. Realizing how precious each and every day is, he made the choice to be by his son’s side.
Being there is what makes a great preemie dad. Spend as much time as you can with your baby and its mother, offering your love and support wherever you can. Some dads fall into the trap of thinking that their presence doesn’t really make a difference because they think that there’s not much they can do, but they’re wrong. Every baby needs the love of its parents first of all.
“I never thought in a million years about prematurity until my son was born at 27 weeks”. – Marcus Moore
2. Be Hopeful
Kaleb arrived in the world much sooner than expected but nonetheless alive. The doctors, however, were far from optimistic about his future, preparing Marcus and Rosie for the worst. They wanted these new preemie parents to be ready for the difficult challenges that come with having a premature baby. Many of the medical professionals in attendance did not hesitate to make known that they did not think little Kaleb would survive.
For the next five months, Marcus and Rosie spent a significant amount of time visiting Kaleb in the NICU. Kaleb did better than many had expected, but progress was slow and the emotional rollercoaster his parents were on seemed almost never-ending.
Despite contrary opinions and disheartening medical reports, Marcus took a firm stand in his position as a father and a husband, continuing to pray for and support his infant son and wife; he and Rosie held strong to faith, believing in the power of the Lord to heal. No matter what Kaleb was up against medically, they continued to have hope that their son would pull through, and he did.
In situations such as premature birth and infants being born with severe medical conditions it is all too tempting to give up on the one thing that can make the biggest positive impact: hope. Being a great preemie dad does not mean having some kind of supernatural power that instantly makes everything okay; it means putting yourself in the mindset of totally depending on all that is virtuous and whole – Love.
Do physically what you can to improve the situation, and let your perceived limitations be compensated for by the limitless. All real dads want the best for their children. Continue to look forward to the best possible outcome you can imagine for your child until the situation is completed.
“We knew it was a matter of time, but were not prepared to see little Kaleb in the isolette, so tiny, hanging on for life… “. Marcus Moore
3. Be Willing to Learn
Marcus had spent his career life as a counselor, not a pediatrician. Even before he made the decision to take care of Kaleb full-time, Marcus realized that there was volumes he had to learn.
Most of the premature babies who survive still have special needs that can place hefty mental, emotional, and financial demands on their families. It is often essential, for example, that the home remain as germ-free as possible, requiring all members of the household to adapt extensive sanitization and hygiene practices; the immune system develops mostly during the last weeks of gestation, development time that preemies miss out on.
Most dads want their children to be as normal as the meaning of the word applies to babies. Generally, preemie dads must come to a realization where the definition of normal is relative – the commonly adhered to rules of caring for a baby must be cast aside in favor of doing what’s best in the child’s own unique case. Parenting a preemie more of an on-the-job-training experience than for most, being unable to lean on the advice of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so forth who have never had a premature child.
A great preemie dad, therefore, must acknowledge and accept his own lack of knowledge, replacing confidence with willingness, thinking both creatively and scientifically, and taking on the challenge with a passion to succeed for the love and the sake of his child. He must be open-minded. He must want to learn.
“You rely heavily on the doctors to provide advice. And, if you are fortunate enough to have family pull alongside you, this can help you through the bumpy road of parenting a preemie. The rest is trusting God to see you through one day at a time”. – Marcus Moore
Being a great preemie dad is not about knowing it all upfront, nor is it about how much resources you can muster. Instead, it’s showing your baby sincere parental love, sticking in there, ever hoping for the best, and learning every day how to be the type of parent your preemie needs. All of these things are what makes Marcus Moore a great preemie dad, and that’s why we at The Gift of Life take great pleasure in honoring him for his birthday.
If you would like to join in on celebration this year, then consider signing up for on February 27th, 2015 – which just happens to be the day after Marcus’ birthday. He’ll be there. Won’t you?