A bit of background for those not familiar with his story – you can read a tiny snippet here and see some photos of Ben just after he was born. He was a little bit premature… like 17 weeks too early. (We make jokes about it which is probably inappropriate – but in these life or death situations sometimes laughter is the only thing helping you stay sane.) We decided he was just eager to join the party! He developed an eye condition because of his early entrance which has caused him to be visually impaired. Thankfully he can still see relatively well from one eye (enough that he can read print up close and uses a magnifier) but his vision will continue to deteriorate over time. We learned in November his eyesight has changed to the point that he’s considered legally blind. Not that it slows him down at all!
We were encouraged to give him lots of visual memories before he loses more eyesight, and he made up a wish list. We were amused he asked to go see the Apple Store – we told him we weren’t sure when we could make that happen but we would try someday. One morning we woke them up early to “run an errand” and this is what happened next.
I just—I can’t. My heart.
Also—as a father who spent a week in the NICU with his newborn, I’ve become well-accustomed to telling the story. And what always gets people is when I tell them how the experience made me realize how lucky my wife and I were to have the birth that we had. Because while we were in the NICU, we saw babies in far worse situations—situations similar to what Ben went through. It’s amazing—and oddly reassuring—to see the strength and family bond that came out of it for the Thaden-Pierce’s.
What I’m trying to say is, unless you’re in need of a good cry, do not watch the ‘His First Year’ video mentioned on this page.