Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I object to the label Miracle...

Reasonably often, someone refers to Chiron as a miracle baby.  While I don't object or typically even say a thing to them about it, I really object to this term. 

First, I really think that this fails to credit the very skilled and very real effort that was put into him by his medical care providers.  That still is.  It fails to credit what has been learned across millions of other babies.  It fails to acknowledge that he did need support and that support was provided.  And that's something I think we can all get behind.

Second, if he's a miracle, why him and not a different baby who hasn't had his good outcome?  Using the term miracle somehow leaves me feeling that there is an implication that he earned it somehow and anyone who has spent time in a NICU can tell you that that is not the case.  Being a good person or wanting it desperately is neither sufficient to ensure a good outcome.  If a family could ensure a good outcome just by wanting it enough, there are some stories I know among just our friends that would have ended differently.

Third, I think it makes it sound passive on Chiron's part.  And yes, we normally think of gestating as passive, but I saw Chiron during that time he was completing his gestation in the NICU and he definitely gave of himself to fight and continue on.  He is definitely a part of his success story.


  • A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.

  • 2. A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment.

    Looking at these definitions, I've found one more objection.  His continued existence, and even looking like a pretty great outcome, is neither surprising nor improbable.  The likely, or ordinary, outcome at the time of his birth is that he would survive and with a positive outcome.

    Are we very blessed?  Yes.  We were blessed that we had great medical care that allowed us first to keep him in for six weeks and then to care for him excellently after he was born.  We are blessed in our friends and family in our support system.  We are blessed that a negative extraordinary event didn't occur.  But do I think he is a miracle?  No.

    I do think he's pretty awesome though:


    1. Awwwww, Scooby Doo!!! That is a great costume! (I guess they don't sell Scrappy, huh?) Oh well. He looks adorable!

    2. You make some awesome points and have given me a lot to think about! In one of my jobs, we do sometimes use the term miracle baby, but you're right about how it deducts from the intense effort on all sides that goes into achieving awesome outcomes!

    3. I've always felt that way about prayer.
      When a mother with a sick child or abducted child prays and that child gets better "miraculouly" or when that child is found safe....her prayers were answered. God is given all of the credit. but if the child is found dead or never found....or succumbs to the disease...then what ? God didn't answer your prayers. Not enough people or enough of the right people were praying for your child. or, oh right, it was God's will. As a mother I wouldn't want to blame God for "deciding" to take my child.
      I suppose it makes people feel better. I suppose it helps them cope.
      To me it feels wrong. yet when 2 of my babies were in the hospital (different times) and were critical....I prayed like hell in hopes that God would spare their lives.

    4. He's super awesome! I love the costume.

      I don't like the term 'miracle' either. It seems to do a disservice to all the hard work that the medical professionals put in, all that technology and yes, the fight that the babies, those unique individuals, put into it. And sadly, none of these factors is strongly linked to a successful outcome, although without an element of all of them you're in big trouble. All these things have their role to play along with a massive side serving of the wind blowing in the right direction and Lady Luck being on your side.

      I suppose that the reason I don't mind so much if that I believe that the probable outcome when my girls were born WAS that they would die. So in that way J was a miracle but I consider her sister just as much of a miracle. I think that she sometimes get overlooked. The medical team tried just as hard for her, they employed just as much medical technology and she fought just as hard. But whether it was bad luck or simply not sufficient, she did not survive.