How 3 Baby Boys Taught Their Mommies to Survive

For most of us, we are lucky if we see or experience one miracle in our lifetime and even then, we often don’t know that it is happening. I know I never had until this spring but now I can say, I have been fortunate enough to be a part of one miracle and witnessed two more. What are these miracles? They are the undeniable strength and fortitude of three very precious baby boys and the wonderful lessons they taught me and their mothers.

It started for all of them during the same week last August when I and two of my friends became pregnant. Being of ‘the age’ for my friends to have kids, I haven’t been surprised to have simultaneous pregnancies with other women around me, but the fact that three of us were due in the same week of May shocked me. There really must have been something in the water that August…


Reston, my son, was this first to come and it was way too early. Because I had lost two children in the past we tried to prevent any complications, but my water broke at spontaneously at 27 weeks gestation and after 2 weeks on hospital bed rest, an infection triggered labor. He was subsequently born, 10 weeks premature, at 2lbs 15 oz, on March 11th.  

We immediately knew he was a little survivor when he was already trying to breathe in the delivery room. Within 24 hours he was off of oxygen and by 3 days was completely free of any breathing assistance. We were amazed at his progress and felt so utterly lucky compared to other babies we walked past every day in the NICU who were struggling.

Then the rollercoaster they had warned us about kicked in. First it was mild jaundice, then his blood sugar began to climb and they struggled to bring it down. I was having visions of my son on insulin and feared the myriad of complications that came with it. Could his premature body handle a disease like diabetes? Just when that was under control, he began having heart arythmias. I was scared and will admit it was the only time I cried when the doctors came to talk to me about the complications of his heart not firing. Our little man could end up needing a pacemaker.

Then, as if he didn’t want disappoint Mommy, the day after I cried, Reston began to heal himself. The alarms became so infrequent that they stopped checking him each time and again he thrived. Then cold and flu season invaded the NICU and  Resty fell victim. It was another week of sitting helplessly by while he fought the virus with a lot of sleep. His feedings went back to being exclusively from a tube and holding him was discouraged to let him rest.

Meanwhile, I started feeling the symptoms and knew a cold would mean I couldn’t be up there with him. I looked at my little man and said out loud, “I refuse to allow myself to get sick- if he can get through everything with flying colors, so can I.”   The next day I woke up healthy.

That was when I realized that my tiny preemie was teaching me the power of positive thought and staying strong. Everything he faced and he was thriving, so why shouldn’t I be thriving too? Sure, it was hard to juggle life inside and outside the NICU, but think about what he was doing in his little body! If he could be so strong, so could I. Shortly after that, on May 16th, he finally came home.


What I didn’t realize is that Reston wasn’t the only miracle I was about to witness. The second of the three boys born was Raymond Dawkins IV (nicknamed Patrick), who made it to May 10th. It was then that an ultrasound showed he was not moving enough so he was immediately delivered. Much to everyone’s shock, it was discovered that he had a tracheoesophageal fistula (abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea that lets food into the lungs and air into his stomach) and an esophageal atresia (the esophagus ends before it reaches the stomach). After stabilizing for transport and having a brief visit with his mother, he was immediately taken to the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

With Mom left behind, Patrick received his first surgery within two days of birth. After a couple weeks of recovery, it seemed everything was good and he was sent home. Unfortunately it was not and by the end of May he quit breathing and eating correctly and he was once more sent back down to the Children’s Hospital. He had another surgery for a more permanent feeding tube while the doctors complete the needed work, which could take months.

Amazingly, despite everything, Patrick is now home with the necessary medical equipment to keep him eating and monitored until his surgeries are completed. As with all of us, dealing with her baby’s issues has made his mother Heather thankful as well as other things. She writes, “He’s definitely taught me patience! When he’s upset and we’re frustrated, I just think about everything that could’ve gone wrong and remember that he relies on us for *everything*. That’s an awesome responsibility!”


Camdyn Backer was born May 14th, and the only baby of the three to be born healthy. I was ecstatic, after everything Reston had been through and Patrick was now facing, that one of the boys would be a normal, healthy little guy. I was so wrong. At about a week old he began getting very lethargic and wouldn’t eat.  Sanford flew him out to the Mayo Clinic in the middle of the night because it appeared he might have a bleed on his brain. His parents were left in limbo wondering not only what this meant for him for the rest of his life, but would he even get to have a life.

 But Camdyn is a survivor, just like Reston and Patrick. He hung in there and after a few days of testing, it was revealed it was a bleed and it had caused a stroke. His young brain would be much more able to recover than our adult ones, but there are still a lot of questions.  Although he was able to come home, he has to go back repeatedly for check-ups, the first of which turned into an overnight stay.

When I asked his mom if she feels she has learned anything from this, Alicia wrote this: “As for what it has taught me or should I say “us” (e.g. Daddy Les)  is that each new day truly is a blessing and in moments of frustration we just think back to the days at Mayo when we didn’t know which direction life was headed and what God had planned for our little man. 🙂 That is the biggest lesson of all.” 

These little boys have made us all thankful for each and every day we get with them. We’ve all learned very important things from them. We are thankful for every minute we get with them, and probably still will be even when they are toddlers and driving us nuts, or teenagers begging to borrow the car. We are also now more patient people, knowing that sometimes bad things turn into good and that miracles do happen. I’ve also learned that we have so much inner strength that we don’t account for. If a tiny little baby can fight 65 days in the hospital to become the healthy, perfectly normal baby he now is at 3 ½ months (even though he’s the size of a 1 ½ month old) then there’s no reason I can’t look at life and tell the world, “I am here and I can take whatever you can dish out.”

There is a benefit planned for Camdyn Backer on July 30th at the Moorhead VFW from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m. Donations for him can be made to: Camdyn Backer Benefit Fund, First National Bank, PO Box 688, Hawley MN 56549.

Read more about Camdyn in this Sunday’s Life Section of the Fargo Forum.

A benefit has not been set up for Raymond yet, but anyone wishing to donate to help defray costs can send it to his mother. Address it to Heather Melson, P.O. Box 67, Hope ND 58425


2 thoughts on “How 3 Baby Boys Taught Their Mommies to Survive

  1. Wow. That just made me cry. I can’t even imagine what all three of you must have been going through with all of that. I wish all three babies a long, happy, healthy life full of love from their families and everyone who gets to be graced by their presence. <3

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure that it gives many hearts of gratitude as they read. Each day that we have our little ones and the precious people in our lives is truly a gift and this reminder that you have sent out has truly touched my heart and will impact my day and the days to come. Again, I say thank you for sharing.

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