From my earliest memories, I have always loved the National Basketball Association [NBA]. I can remember rooting for Michael Jordan as he struggled against the “Bad Boy” Pistons. I remember transitioning from “Air” Jordan to Clyde “the glide” Drexler, wanting him to finally win a championship. I remember being amazed by the clutch, three-point shooting of Reggie Miller and the out-of-this-world dunking ability of Shawn Kemp. Then, I remember becoming a huge fan of Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and his side-kick puppet “Lil’ Penny.” And ultimately, I remember becoming a disciple of “The Question” because no one had “The Answer” for Allen Iverson’s crossover dribble (even Michael Jordan was victimized by it). These were my childhood heroes. Neither Marvel nor DC characters captivated my boyhood imagination…only the real-time exploits of NBA super-stars ruled my dreams. I loved (and still love) professional basketball! And this love was first cultivated by my mother.
As an infant, my mother was the first one to introduce me to the NBA. I watched my first game when I was less than one month old. It was during the NBA Finals, and Julius Erving (better known as “Dr. J”) was attempting to win his first title. “The Dr.” would have to once again face his nemesis, the “SHOWTIME” Los Angeles Lakers (who were the defending champs). Julius Erving had already lost to “Magic” and Kareem in 1980 and 1982; plus, his career was nearing its final years and the legend had faltered multiple times in the NBA finals. However, this time he was joined by hall-of-famer Moses Malone, and they were poised to finally capture the league’s most coveted prize. Due to my mother’s love of the game, I got to watch the 76ers do it! Well, I don’t remember it, but my mother does. During my night feedings, she made sure to turn on the games. She wanted me to watch “Dr. J” finally win the NBA Championship.
So when I recently received an opportunity to hold my son for the first time, this family history flooded my memory. It was obligatory for me to continue the tradition! My mother’s rite of passage ceremony had to live on. The custom needed to be passed down. It was time for Jesher to be initiated.
I was blessed to watch a legendary player in my first game; therefore, there had to be a legendary player in my son’s first game. Lebron James (also known as “King James”) was playing, and I wanted Jesher’s first NBA experience to be as epic as my first encounter. No, it wasn’t the NBA Finals. And no, it didn’t have the heightened tension of the Los Angeles -vs- Philadelphia rivalry of the early 80s. But I deemed the quarter-final match between the Cavaliers and the Raptors a suitable candidate to continue our familial ritual.
Before they placed Jesher in my arms, I made sure to set the laptop screen at the precise angle necessary for optimum viewing. I turned up the volume as loud as I could, per the NICU ward’s policy. Then, like my mother, I introduced my son to the wonderful world of the National Basketball Association. And Jesher, like me in 1983, was asleep by halftime.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
PDA–Jesher’s Patent ductus Arteriosus [PDA] is still causing his heart to murmur, but the doctors are no longer pushing for surgery at this time! We asked for a second opinion to be provided, and the consulting doctor did not see a reason for surgery at this juncture. She successfully convinced Jesher’s primary doctor to wait a bit longer to see if the valve will close on its own. Because Jesher’s vital signs are improving at such a good rate, they will hold off on surgery unless his body shows signs of cardiovascular or pulmonary distress. Also, the valve will need to be closed either naturally or surgically before Jesher is eligible for discharge. WE PRAISE YAHWEH FOR DELIVERING OUR SON FROM THE SCALPEL! PLEASE PRAY THAT THE EXTENDED TIME WILL RESULT IN JESHER’S PDA CLOSING WITHOUT THE NEED FOR EXTERNAL INTERVENTION.
CPAP–Jesher is now off of CPAP! This is a major answer to prayer! As I shared in my previous post, Jesher was quite agitated by his Continuous Positive Air Pressure apparatus. He was having a hard time sleeping, and the mask was causing periodic swelling or reddening of his eyes and nose. Now, Jesher is on a nasal cannula, which is far less discomforting. It is also the final stage of air support. Once Jesher stabilizes on the nasal cannula he will be upgraded to breathing on his own. WE PRAISE THE LORD FOR DELIEVERING OUR SON FROM THE CPAP APPARATUS! PLEASE PRAY FOR JESHER’S LUNGS AND BRAIN TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP SO THAT HE CAN BREATH ON HIS OWN WITHOUT THE NEED FOR MECHANIZED SUPPORT.
SPELLS–Jesher’s “spells” have increased over the past two days. A “spell” is defined as a period of 15 seconds or more where Jesher stops (or forgets) to breathe. Having these “spells” is a normal response for micro-preemies who have been on breathing support since day 1. The brain has not had to mature the neurological breathing signals to encourage breathing at all times. Now that Jesher is not receiving as much machine support, the brain will begin to strengthen the dendrites and synapses that encourage breathing; however, this will take some time. While the brain is maturing, Jesher has been prescribed medicinal caffeine to help his brain maintain proper stimulation levels which should lessen the frequency of these “spells.” PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WOULD PERSONALLY FORM JESHER SO THAT NO DISEASE, DEFICIT, OR DISORDER WOULD HAMPER HIS QUALITY OF LIFE.
I believe the infancy years of our development are more impactful to our life-purpose than we believe. I think we underestimate how pivotal our first years are because we cannot remember them. It is a classic case of out-of-mind / out-of-sight. If we had our infant memories, we would (theoretically) have an easier time tracking how these early experiences molded us into the people we are today. None of us remember week three, month two, or year one (and I’m glad we don’t; life has to be uncomfortable and confusing during our first days); however, that doesn’t mean those days, weeks, and months don’t influence our destiny. Watching Jesher develop and learn has convinced me that he is being molded even now. The building blocks of his foundation are being put into place at this very moment. His days inside and outside the womb have already begun cultivating purpose. He is becoming a man already–an upright man who will also be a die-hard NBA fan : )
“So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” Judges 13:4-5