Alicia Wilson’s fiancée, Dennis Curbeam, bought her a cake and balloons on Wednesday. He got her a nice card and told her how much he loved her.
“I wanted to make it special,” Dennis said.
He better have done all that – Wednesday was Alicia’s 21st birthday.
But the gift that will be remembered as long as Alicia has birthdays is not something that will be eaten or deflated or put in a scrapbook.
On Wednesday, she brought the couple’s newborn son home to Rock Hill after 10 weeks in a Columbia hospital.
Now, babies come home from the hospital every day, but Ayden Decori Curbeam came home at 4 pounds, 7 ounces – about the size of a Subway foot long sandwich.
His projected due date isn’t even for another week.
Ayden was born all those weeks early at Palmetto Health Richland hospital in Columbia, after Alicia experienced complications with the pregnancy.
He entered the world July 11 at an incredibly tiny 2 pounds, 2.5 ounces. He was just 14 inches long.
“He was so tiny, we just couldn’t believe how small his tiny arms and legs were,” Alicia said. “But he had all his fingers and his toes. They were all there – but just so, so small.”
Alicia stayed for a time at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbia while Ayden was first in an incubator.
Later, as he grew by the tiniest bits, she commuted back and forth from home in Rock Hill to be with Ayden most of each day.
Well-wishes and prayers poured in from family and friends and co-workers at Piedmont Medical Center, where Alicia works as an emergency medical technician on an ambulance based in York.
The family’s home church, Catawba Chapel AME Zion, offered prayers almost non-stop.
“We prayed about it, supported Alicia, and always believed that Ayden would come home,” said Janice Wilson, Alicia’s mother.
A wedding, planned for this month, had to be postponed while Ayden was still in the hospital and the new parents were traveling back and forth.
Dennis, a new father who juggles work at Kohl’s and classes at York Technical College, said the family is thrilled, excited, to start raising Ayden at home now after so long in the hospital.
“Alicia has been waiting for this day – we both have,” said Dennis, who will learn even more about juggling now that he has a baby at home.
Dennis will take Alicia out for a birthday dinner at The Olive Garden, maybe a movie, on Friday night to celebrate.
For now, though, it’s all about Ayden.
“I just love to look at his facial expressions,” Dennis said. “And now he came home on Alicia’s birthday. Everything is right.”
Even the wedding will still go on. The couple hopes to tie the knot later this year.
Other than two tiny hernias that were operated on last week and some acid reflux, Ayden is a healthy baby. The kitchen at their Rock Hill home is filled with formula. Blankets and booties are piled up, the crib in place – all the stuff that means a new baby.
One of the smallest, teeniest, tiniest, babies ever seen by this or any family.
“Ayden is a miracle,” Alicia said after finally getting home Wednesday. “Our tiny miracle. He is still just so little. And our miracle came home on my birthday.
“This is the best birthday present – ever.”