WHY READ MICRO MIRACLE?
Micro Miracle is an intriguing story about triumph over improbability. Most babies born sixteen weeks early (at twenty-four weeks gestational age), like Madeline, are not expected to survive without disabilities or developmental delays. Although outcomes for extremely-premature infants have improved dramatically in recent years, even today, between 40 - 50% of infants born fourteen to fifteen weeks early will die shortly after birth. Of the remaining infants, as many as 75% will suffer disabilities and delays, some quite severely (Morse, Zheng, Tang, & Roth, 2009; Petrini et al., 2009). For weeks after her birth, Madeline deteriorates physically, until dire medical predictions seem inevitable. It’s then, as her lungs collapse and alarms wail, that she tenaciously clings to life.
In many countries, maternal and infant health care suffers from inadequate funding and resources. Resuscitation of extremely premature infants is often not possible due to a lack of neonatal equipment or experienced medical staff. Developing countries often cannot afford publically funded neonatal care. In fact, costs for months of hospitalization, testing, and surgeries can quickly reach into the $100,000s. Even in some developed countries, parents have to consider their insurance and health care benefits when deciding whether to resuscitate a premature infant or allow the infant to pass away without intervention. In Canada, public health care eliminates the need for private insurance or work-place health benefits for primary care. Regardless of the cost, every citizen, including micro-preemies, will be cared for.
In Micro Miracle, Amy and Josh Boyes, are able to make fateful decisions on their own. However, the gray areas of medical ethics are exposed as Josh and Amy discover what they believe about the beginning of life.
Childbirth has always been fraught with danger for mother and child. With the advent of procedures like ultrasound and Caesarian section, the risk of mortality has diminished. However, even today, preterm births occur, often with no warning or medical explanation. In these circumstances, our primal fear of childbirth resurfaces. We are faced with the limits of our knowledge and powers of prediction. Instead of avoiding disaster, we must react to it. It is this unpredictability which makes Micro Miracle a gripping story.
Micro Miracle is also an important story, an example of how the life of the smallest, most fragile citizen should be valued in a civilized society. The essence of our humanity is shown by how we treat those who cannot help themselves, especially when the costs and risks are high.
But beyond the elements of suspense or social responsibility, Micro Miracle is a compelling story because of the mother’s honest narrative. Loving a child who is physically broken and unlikely to survive is a test of one’s courage. Only someone who has lived it can possibly tell the story.