Dear Science,

Today my sons, Oliver and Victor, are 15 years old.

It is not a miracle, it is thanks to you.

Unable to get pregnant I needed infertility therapy. If you had not isolated the hormones, developed tests, and then designed medications for ovarian stimulation and to trigger ovulation I would never have become pregnant.

If ultrasound had not been developed I would not have known I was pregnant with triplets and then what eventually happened next would likely have been even more of a catastrophe. It is sometimes hard to see how these kinds of things helped, but I have not forgotten. I know there is an orchestra involved and that every note counts.

When I ruptured my membranes at 22 1/2 weeks you had the test to confirm it. When I delivered my son who passed away you provided the pain medication so I could tolerate the immediately necessary interventions to try to keep me pregnant with the other two.

Science, you gave me medications to stop my contractions and a stitch for my cervix. I know my uterus was a worthy opponent and for 3 1/2 weeks it tried really hard not to be pregnant.

When at 25 weeks and 6 days things were “not right” and I couldn’t tell you more than that you had tests to help figure out what my body was really trying to say. An infection. Not good news, but you provided the anesthesia and surgical skills shortly after midnight to bring my boys into the world.

Science, you gave medications for my children who could not maintain their own blood pressures. Antibiotics to treat the infection I had given them. Blood transfusions. Ventilators. Oxygen. Special cribs to keep the outside, well, outside.

Equipment small enough for babies who weighed 783 and 843 g.

Science you also gave antibiotics that saved my life when the bacteria that ran through my bloodstream tried really hard to mess things up even more for me.

You gave me data on how to touch and hold my babies so the outside world brought to them too soon would be less damaging.

And science you gave the echocardiogram that showed my little Oliver had a heart that needed repair. That was pretty tough. You think you are sort of in the clear a week after delivery at 26 weeks and then you told me a valve was restricting flow to his lungs and he had a big old hole in his heart.

Sometimes I tell myself it is because that kid had just so much love it broke his damn heart. I know, it was a messaging mix up during embryogenesis, but when times are pretty dark making light can help. I’m going to guess there is some science to explain that kind of coping mechanism.

You hadn’t quite caught up with how to fix a heart in a baby that small. That was hard.

Eventually though you came through. When Oliver was 1,200 g you gave the anesthesia and the surgical skills and the equipment to thread a tiny catheter through his leg, into his heart and pop open a valve the size of what? A dime? Much smaller.

Yes I know.

You gave medications to stimulate their bone marrow to make red blood cells. A screening test for hypothyroidism and then medication to treat it so Victor’s brain could develop. Did you know he had straight As this past year in grade 8? All on his own?

Feeding tubes and formula. The medication to help me make breast milk didn’t work so well, so maybe get on that when you have some time? Not nagging, but it would be nice.

Oxygen canisters. Suction tubing. Home oxygen monitors. Thermometers. So much equipment you gave me to care for my babies when we did get home. I felt more like a doctor than a mom for a while — okay for a long while. But that feeling made me realize that at some point when all this was through that I had to figure out how to help other people who were not doctors cope with everything medical thrown at them.

That is the thing about you science. You make people think what next? and the undiscovered countries that lay ahead of us. There are so many.

Vaccines, oh I love your vaccines! They helped a lot. When they couldn’t, when Oliver was back in the intensive care unit over and over again with influenza because a bum heart and bum lungs are a lot, you had equipment and medication to help him get through.

You’ve given us ultrasounds and an MRI machine to monitor Oliver’s heart as he grows. Growth charts so we know what is worrisome and what is not. And you have even given us two vaccines so I can help protect my boys from cancer!

Science, I am feeling pretty emotional today. There is no way I can express my gratitude for all the advanced knowledge and equipment and medications that have directly been responsible for the greatest joys in my life.

I do believe that undiscovered science when it is finally know can seem like a miracle, but I am aware of the effort and energy that went into everything that brought me the joy I have today. It was no miracle, it was intelligence, hard work, and the desire to do more. To help people live better lives.

The only thing I do not believe you will ever be able to do is measure the joy that I have or the depth of my gratitude.
Please keep doing what you do.
All my love,
Jen

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35 Comments

  1. A beautiful story. My own two Ivf miracle babies are 19 and 20. Modern medicine is amazing!

  2. Happy birthday to your twins! No doubt science made it possible but benediction of God can not be denied as
    every human being is born and die with his order.

  3. Dear Jen, Very very happy over 15th birthday of Oliver and Victor. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BOTH TEENSFROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART Very keen to see their pictures with you. What will they do in their future? No doubt not only you are a goodphysician but a great mom as well! Love and hugs, Shokee 

  4. For sure. Science gave and saved my kids too. Has also kept me alive for the last decade so I can enjoy watching my girls grow to adulthood and wonder at the incredible joy of knowing grandchildren.

  5. I love you, Jen Günter. I am old enough to be your grandmother, and on the other side of the worldly you, yet I feel so close to you. Bless you! And your beautiful boys.❤️

  6. Happy birthday to Oliver and Victor – yeah to Science, to real MD’s and hope ( comes with having kids) – as a mom ( and microbiologist) I am grateful every day for the pain medications that my youngest son who is very sick can have to make his remaining time with us, happy time, and no needless suffering.

  7. Excellent. My twins are now 33 and one is a new mother due to fertility help

    I too am grateful.

    >

  8. Please tell your boys, from all of us, that they were lucky science was there for them – but they are VERY lucky that their mother continues to be there for them. You’re amazing.

  9. Yay for science!
    This week I’m noticing numerous ads for stem cell injections.
    Injections of stem cells, your own stem cells, implied promises that they’ll fix all your problems.
    No evidence that this will work though.

  10. Dr Jen

    I LOVED your letter to science. Love love love loved it!!

    Yah you and thank you all the way from New Zealand.

    Mike Cook.

    Get Outlook for Android

    ________________________________

  11. Happy Birthday to your boys!

    Louise Brown celebrated the 40th anniversary of her birth a few days ago. She and six million others today owe their very existence to science.

  12. Happy Birthday to your boys. I, too, was crying (or greeting, as we say in Scotland) whilst reading your wonderful paean to science. Thank-you.

  13. We are so fortunate to live in a time of wonders, brought to us by science and the people dedicated to discovery.

    Let’s never go backwards.

  14. Amazing story Dr. Glad you got 66% succes on the kids and even 75% once you are counted. Science is not precise. I agree little by little when added up is big number.
    Congrats also for your own contribution in pushing Science ahead.
    Thanks,
    Minnie

  15. Wow, just sitting here reading your email Jen and it is beautiful. Love your posts when I have a chance to read them but this one is particularly touching and heartfelt. Got to love life and science!
    Kind regards Rosie.

    Sent from my iPhone

  16. Hooray for science! The earth ain’t flat and lightning is not Thor’s chariot wheels hitting the clouds.
    And millions are alive today due to “Big Bad Medicine” and “Big Bad Pharma!”
    From a fellow medic – neurologist- who probably also would not have survived early childhood. Was born at 33 weeks and had bronchopneumonia a few times.
    Love your science and pseudoscience debunking stuff!!
    (jade eggs ….really…..)

  17. What a great birthday gift – I share that date with your boys – with 50 years more ! Thank you for that touching story. As with all your writings, you get to the core of the issue and really make things so clear. Without having your writer’s talent, I can tell you I had similar thoughts 10 years ago as I lay in my ICU bed after an angioplasty saved me from a massive heart attack – thinking back on all the research that led to that little balloon in my heart that night. Yep – blessed be science ! And thank you Jen for sharing this and fighting daily against obscurantism. And happy birthday to your twins !

  18. Happy birthday, boys and Jean.
    Thanks to science for my two wonderful mites, too. (IVF and FET for the 4 and 2 yo respectively)

  19. Go Science! Ruptured membranes at 22 weeks, premature birth, more medicine than mumming – I know this story! Congratulations on your sons and all science has done.

  20. Dear Jen, I again request to send your pictures with your sons! Much love and many hugs, Shokee

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