First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON -- Joseph Ingram Holmes had to be delivered 10 weeks prematurely because he had stopped growing in his mother's womb.
When he was born at Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill on Easter Sunday, 1997, he weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces and could fit into his mother's cupped hands. His feet were short of 2 inches long.
Joseph is 5 years old now, stands 3 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 37 pounds. And his feet are 7 inches long. But it's those tiny footprints at birth that will make him a celebrity.
He is one of four children born prematurely whom Children's Hospital selected to have Christmas cards made using a likeness of their footprints. A Christmas tree design was created by using several of his tiny footprints, designed by Karen Thaxton, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. The hospital will sell the cards to raise money to help meet the various needs of pediatric patients and their families.
Joseph is teaming with University of North Carolina football coach John Bunting in getting the word out about the specially designed cards. Bunting is appearing with the children in a commercial that will air on Time Warner Cable channels.
Before leaving for the video shoot with Bunting, a friend suggested to Joseph's mother, Carol, that Joseph wear a particular T-shirt that he looked particularly nice in.
When they arrived to shoot the video for the commercial, another surprise awaited them. Bunting said that Jo Jo, as Carol affectionately calls Joseph, was wearing the right colors -- green and white -- and number -- 95. Those were the colors and number that Bunting wore when he played professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1972 to 1982.
Carol is pleased that Joseph can help the hospital that helped him and her when they needed it. Not only did Joseph receive first-class care but, she said, the hospital put Carol up at night so she could be as close to Joseph as possible.
“They were so good to us,” Carol said, with deep gratitude in her voice.
She says that's why Joseph was particularly tickled when he received an invitation directly to him -- Mr. Joseph Holmes -- to attend the dedication of this year's new cards at the end of October.
Wearing a red sweatshirt, denim jeans and sporting a close-cropped haircut for his curly brown hair, Joseph chases after the family's 15-year-old cat, Eddie. He shows little effects from his tough start in life.
When Carol took him home for the first time, after weeks in various hospitals, he weighed 4 1/2 pounds, nearly triple his birth weight. Now, doctors say, his height is within the normal range for his age and his weight, 37 pounds, is near the average of 42 pounds.
So if the growth charts are accurate, Joseph should eventually reach around 5 feet 8 inches tall and weigh upward of 120 pounds. “But,” Carol says, “I think he's going to be a big guy.”
If his appetite is any gauge, she might not be wrong. She says that Joseph's appetite rivals that of any 5-year-old.
Joseph says that he loves olives ” 'cause they're nice and cold.” Like many other boys his age, cheeseburgers and hot dogs are his favorite foods. But, unlike many others his age, he also likes to eat spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
His appetite for learning is even more voracious. The East Robeson kindergarten student is inquisitive, impatient and curious. And he is articulate, possessing a verbal IQ of 122, well above average. His motor skills IQ of 95 is about average, bringing his combined IQ to around 110.
Joseph is well aware of the odds that were stacked against him when he came into this world.
“I was really in trouble when I was in mommy,” he said, remembering all the discussions he and his mom have had, especially during the 4 1/2 years that she delivered The Robesonian.
But his mother is just thankful.
“All sorts of neat things happen to us all the time,” said Carol, who is divorced from Joseph's father. “God is just so good.”