As reporters we try to bring the experiences of others to life. We do it by attempting to put words on a piece of paper in a way that makes the reader feel as though he is there.
We rely on the reader's own experiences and imagination to make things more real. But reading about something and being there are never the same.Luckily, we reporters are people, too, and sometimes we experience things that make it easier for us to write about them. Such is the case with my story above about the Hansens.
Unfortunately, my wife and I are going through a similar experience. Six weeks ago my wife, 25 weeks pregnant, gave birth to our third child. Our first died shortly after birth, and our second is 3 years old and terrorizing the house with excitement over Christmas.
I have always read about premature babies and the medical advancements that give them a better chance for survival, but I never thought it would apply to me. But the past month and a half has made me realize what so many people are going through and what so many have gone through. And I'm more thankful than ever for the great minds and dedication that have created the things that have saved my baby's life.
Before his birth, doctors gave Jacob Michael about a 20 percent chance of survival. Immediately after his birth, I watched as doctors and a team of nurses acted quickly to save his life, an experience that I can only describe as overwhelming. Because Jacob did not cry when he was born, I did not know if he was alive or dead, or if he had a chance to survive. All I knew was that he was the smallest human being I had ever seen, and he was my son.
But when I heard Dr. Steve Minton say, "We have liftoff," I knew Jacob had a chance.
The days since then have been exactly as the Hansens said, an emotional roller coaster. Much of our time is spent in Utah Valley Regional Medical Center's newborn intensive care unit. We worry about every buzzer that goes off and about every thing that the doctors do to save his life. We are constantly worrying about the long-term effects of the medication Jacob has taken and of the things doctors have done to save his life. "Will he be normal?" is a question we are constantly asking ourselves.
I feel for my wife much more than for myself. A man can't comprehend the bonding process that a woman goes through when she gives birth. But Laurie Hansen described what my wife must be going through.
"You can't love them, you can't feed them and you can't hold them. They are sick and other people are caring for them constantly, and all you can do is sit in the background and watch and hope," Laurie said.
And all this has taught me who the real heroes are in the world. They are not the Michael Jordans or the Ty Detmers, they are the people who save lives for a living. John Hansen describes it best.
"The real conflict is not on the athletic field but behind those doors," John said. "It's just too bad we can't build stands outside that ICU and let people watch what is going on and see those babies struggling for life, and see the people that are making it happen."
For those who have helped my son live as long as he has, you can go to bed every night knowing that what you do is significant. I, my wife and many others owe you more than we will ever be able to repay.