Lolita Harris carried her son, Paxton, for just 26 weeks before his premature birth on Aug. 22, 2009. He was scheduled to arrive as late as Nov. 25. But when he water suddenly broke weeks early, Lolita went into labor for 72 hours, afraid her child would not survive to enjoy a single day.
“I thought it was over,” she admits. “There was no thought of me saying I am going to have this baby. If I did, it would take a miracle.”
Lolita had to stay in the hospital at Erlanger for three weeks while doctors administered medicines to keep Paxton inside the womb for as long as they could. They explained to her the earlier a baby is born the greater the infant’s risk of complications.
When Paxton finally arrived 17 days after her water broke, doctors predicted the worst for the infant who was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Lolita said she cried the day her doctors told her Paxton would be paralyzed and helpless.
“They said Paxton would not be able to move his arms and legs,” Lolita recalled. But Lolita and Paxton had people praying for them and a skilled medical staff, including her obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Edger Anderson, who did everything they could to change the odds in favor of her and her newborn.
Today, Paxton, at age 3, is one of the happiest, most playful children ever to chase a ball. He loves to play and he is always smiling, despite the challenges that resulted from his premature birth, which includes a recent diagnosis of autism.
“Thank God he is doing fine,” Lolita said. “I am so thankful to God for Paxton and the people who prayed for us! I’m also thankful for the medical staff at Erlanger and my OB/GYN, Dr. Anderson, who is calling Paxton a ‘miracle baby.’ He was so tiny and sick. The doctors did everything they could and basically left everything else to God. Then we saw Paxton getting stronger and stronger. This is what I call a miracle.”
Born in Georgetown, Guyana, Lolita was raised in Barbados before moving to Cleveland where she worked for Life Care Centers of America and Garden Plaza before she became the private caregiver to her son.
Today, Lolita, 39, said she is a happy and thankful parent because her son has defied the odds and is enjoying life as one of the happiest children she has ever seen.
“He is so happy despite his health problems!” she said. “We have so much to be thankful for. Being diagnosed with autism explains some of his behavior, but he’s so happy and very active. Even though he stumbles around a lot, he will get up and go with a smile. His walking is not that good, but he loves to play ball. One of the things we are so grateful for is the people around Paxton — wonderful church members, wonderful therapists and wonderful teachers. They are all helping him in so many ways.
“When you surround yourself with really good people you have faith and hope. I can see Paxton getting better and better so I am very hopeful about the future and excited to see what is next for him. He’s still my special miracle and I am confident he will live a productive lifestyle.
According to the March of Dimes, approximately 12.8 percent of all babies are born prematurely in the U.S. Paxton is among the nation’s 1 percent of babies born as early as 26 weeks. He is also among the happiest bundles of joy his mother said she has ever seen.