A Preemie Princess- All grown up!

This is kind of a different perspective from most of the posts that I have a read about God’s tiniest miracles. 
My name is Shannon Harper and I am one of those millions of miracles, I was born on October 28th, 1984, three months before my actual birth date of January 20th, 1985.  I weighed in at a whopping 2lbs 12oz and was 12 inches long. My Mom was in the hospital with the flu.  She is a diabetic and being pregnant was not an easy feat… I guess I just decided that I wanted to come out and party!
And quite a party it has been!  I spent two and half months in the NICU and graduated on January 5th, 1985, 15 days before my due date.  I was diagnosed with at grade 4 brain bleed which has resulted in me having three VP shunts that were placed at 3 and 9 months of age.  I have had 13 shunt revisions since and spent most of the first two years of my life in and out of the operating room on an average of every six weeks or so.
In fact my first birthday was overshadowed by a blocked VP and surgery! I was a happy kid dispite all of this saying “Hi Mommy” when being wheeled into recovery after my latest surgery.
 My first word was “Stethascope” so the hospital was like a second home to us.
Even though I was premature, my parents decided to make us a family of four.  They always said they wanted two kids and when I was two and half, my sister Kayla was born full-term but was still a NICU baby for a few days.   Kayla was the biggest baby in there weighing in at a HUGE 8lbs 4oz a whole 6lbs 8oz bigger then her older sister!  I didn’t start walking until I was almost three so my parents had two babies to carry.
I was almost four when I was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy which effects the right side of my body.  I had a what I know it as “heel cord lengthening” to stretch the tendon in my heel to bring my heel to the floor.  Once diagnosed, I attended PT twice a week for the next 10 years.  It never really bothered me, I was able to leave school early and spend time with my Grandparents!  I had my second “heel cord lengthening” at 12.
I have had exploratory head surgery both when I was sick and healthy so that my Dr’s could see what it looked like.  Once during a “routine” revision they removed my shunt and the ventricle collapsed making it impossible for the Dr to replace it, So I had a shunt placed at the base of my spine until they could put it back.
My favourite surgery of all is my gallbladder removal…simply because it can happen to everyone!  That brings it to a total of 18 operations, but without every last one of them I wouldn’t be the walking, talking NICU and College Grad that I am today!  I work at Educational Assistant (TA) helping kids who struggle like I did growing up and I LOVE my job!!
And although my story may not be the nicest to read, it is Me and I am VERY proud to be a PREEMIE MIRACLE!! I hope my story has given all of the Preemie Parents out there the hope they need to see that its going to be alright, and although your rollercoaster ride is a long one, it can end with a Healthy. Happy. Adult!!!
Thank you for reading, and know that I pray for all the preemies out there everyday!

13 Comments + Add Comment

  • Simply amazing and thank you for sharing

  • Your very very welcome!! I thought it might help for parents to see that Preemie’s can do ANYTHING!!! 🙂

  • Wow! That’s amazing! My little boy is just three months old (39 days adjusted) and was born at 30 weeks 4 days…he just hit the 10 pound mark! (he’s gained four of those pounds since he’s been home). Thanks for sharing your story. It gives me hope for his future. 🙂

  • Beautiful story! Congrats on all you have accomplished, much i am sure because of your wonderful attitude! Continue being the person you are…it has gotten you sooo far!


  • You are all sooo welcome!! I’m glad I could help 🙂 I hope all your little miracles are doing well!

  • Yes, thank you for sharing your story! SO encouraging! I’m a Type One diabetic who had a 33-weeker this summer. My diabetes had nothing to do with the severe pre-e that necessitated an emergency c-section, but it wasn’t an easy pregnancy with the diabetes. You’re gorgeous and evidently very successful. What a cool line of work to be in. Thanks again for sharing! 🙂

  • all i can say is wow! and thanks for sharing you’ve brought a happy tear to my eye..

  • Shannon, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s not often that I read success stories about preemies who had Grade 4 brain bleeds, so I plan to share this with my NICU parent friends.

    I had a 24-weeker who was 1 lb, 6 oz., in 1996–he spent 117 days in the NICU. Fortunately he didn’t have a brain bleed, although he had cerebral edema and low flow to the brain. He’s doing great now–he’s now 15 and a freshman in high school.

    Kudos to you for having an awesome attitude and for all you have accomplished!!


  • Thank you for giving me hope. I have preemie twins who are now almost 2.5 years old. They were born at 26 weeks. Bailey was a whopping 1 pd 7 oz, and big brother Wyatt was 2 pds. We struggle. Each little milestone is a miracle. For the longest i just wanted to see Bailey walk. Now she does, and I hope to see her walk into kindergarten with her peers. I would also love to see her eat! Your mom must be so proud.

  • My son was born at 30 weeks, weighing 2 lbs 12 ounces, 11 inches, he is now 16 1/2 years old. entering 11th grade when school starts back. He is doing great, healthy and strong. Looking at him now you would not believe he was a preemie, now 165 lbs, 5ft 7in. To parents with preemies believe in your self and your child and things will get better.

  • Shannon, thank you for sharing your inspiring story! I was also a preemie, born at approximately 32 weeks, weighing 2 lbs. 12 oz. and was 21 inches long. My Mother had a severe infection (that included hallucinations and an out of body experience in the hospital) causing the premature delivery (c-section). I was in the hospital for 8 weeks in an incubator. Mom was in for 6 weeks. I’m 39 now, and the mother of 2 wonderful boys (both full-term, but c-sections, #1 due to preeclampsia, #2 scheduled c-section). For my first seven years of life I had pneumonia at least once a year bad enough to be hospitalized. My Mother was a nurse at the hospital, though, so I had great care and was happy to be close to her. I was a slender, lanky child. Only after puberty did I start to fill out. Then, at 18, I tried the birth control “Norplant” that packed on 50 lbs. all at once that I’ve never been able to lose. I was also a cigarette smoker from ages 15-30. When my father died of lung cancer when I was 27, then my Mother died of lung cancer when I was 30, I quit smoking. I was 2 months pregnant with my 2nd son. After quitting smoking I gained more & more weight. The pneumonia was the worst thing that affected me as a preemie. As an adult, it’s obesity. Anyway I wanted to comment mostly because of my favorite thing that anyone has ever said to me about being a preemie. My cousin’s husband’s comment, after learning that I was a preemie, when I was in my early 20’s was, “You bulked up real good.” lol =) I also wondered at what age did you start “bulking up”? Good luck to all families with tiny miracles. I think we were born fighters for a reason.

  • I’m crying happy tears reading all of these comments. I just re read my post and I totally left out some parts…lol I also have moderate to severe Athsma and a SEVERE latex allergy. When I was 24 I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder that is medically controlled (I haven’t had a seizure in almost 4 years!) after I scared the daylights out of my Dad…But I have moved mountains and something tells me that my climb isn’t over I have however reached a plateau but as go through the trials and tribulations I will reach the summit! 🙂 I’m so glad that my story has helped SO many!!

    Trisha – I started “bulking up” as soon as I got my first real taste of solid food. Or at least that’s what I’m told! LOL!

  • Hi! Thanks for sharing your story! I was also born a preemie at 2 lbs and 2ozs and 13 inches. My dream came true when I was able to ice skate on my own yesterday. I worked very hard exercising for years to make myself strong for this. I finally was able to accomplish my dream: ice skating. It was hard at first because of the balance and the weight of the skate shoes but wasn’t hard afterwards. Practice makes perfect! Never give up your dreams! 🙂

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