Micro Miracle: A True Story
By: Amy Boyes
Micro Miracle is the moving account of a first-time mother whose expectations of childbirth and parenting are dramatically altered when she gives birth sixteen weeks prematurely.
When Amy and Josh Boyes discover they are expecting their first child, they worry about money, nursery furniture and baby names. Then Madeline is born, weighing just over a pound. Her eyes are fused shut. Her skin is transparent and fragile. She could fit in a hand, but she’s too ill to be touched. As days drag on, not even machine and powerful medications can keep her body from breaking down. Heart, lungs, intestines, brain — every organ threatens her survival. Under extraordinary pressure, Josh and Amy make life-changing decisions regarding Madeline’s treatment. Through a fog of shock and exhaustion, they negotiate the gray areas of medical ethics, praying every moment that they are making the right decisions.
She lies still, her wrinkled limbs flopped across a stiff flannel sheet. A sunshine-yellow toque covers her tennis ball-sized head. Her tiny bits of ears peek out from under the toque’s fuzzy yarn. Cartilage hasn’t formed yet, so her ears are just flaps of skin, folded forward against her head. Her puffy eyelids are fused together like a newborn kitten’s. Their inability to open creates an illusion of blindness, a suggestion she’ll never see the worried faces hovering over her. Saliva foams and dries around the ventilator tube that slinks over her pointed chin, into her gaping mouth. She has no fat, nothing to plump the pouches of skin that drip off her jaw and pile into layers on her neck and shoulders, just a coat of downy hair to protect against the amniotic fluid she no longer swims in. With each breath forced into her underdeveloped lungs by the mechanical ventilator, her ribs protrude against her crimson, gelatinous skin like shark fins skimming the surface of the ocean. Her fragility disturbs me. I’m overwhelmed by her helplessness.
A steely-nerved nurse takes my shaking hands, stares into my exhausted eyes, and says calmly, “Good evening, Mrs. Boyes, and welcome to the Neonatology Intensive Care Unit. I understand you’ve just given birth. I know she’s a bit of shock, but she’s your baby. She’s your Madeline.”
Unflinchingly honest, Micro Miracle is a true story of a medical triumph, yet it is also the loving tale of accepting the inevitable, fighting for the impossible, and honouring the most fragile of lives.
Amy Boyes makes her home in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband, Josh, and their daughter, Madeline. A pianist and an educator, Amy earned music degrees at Brandon University in Manitoba and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and performance and pedagogy diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto (RCM) and Trinity College in London, UK. As a music festival adjudicator and examiner for RCM, Amy enjoys connecting with young performers throughout Canada. She is also an active volunteer with the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association. When not teaching in her busy piano studio, or chasing after Madeline, Amy carves out a few minutes every day for writing. Her work can be found in a variety of sources such as music teacher periodicals or, most recently, the Humber Literary Review.