Born at 25 weeks and weighing only 12 ounces, Jonathan Cleveland II clung to life.
His family said that Jackson-Madison County General Hospital officials called him one of the smallest babies to survive. He was hooked up to numerous monitoring machines, and his body appeared translucent. He was too frail to touch anywhere but on his head.
The Clevelands were shocked that their son was still alive.
“Sometimes he would turn a charcoal color, and then the doctors would get him stabilized,” said Catonia Cleveland, Jonathan’s mother. “That was so hard, so very hard. I would walk away and then go back.”
That was almost three years ago.
Today, Jonathan weighs 25 pounds and keeps Catonia and her husband, Jonathan Sr., on their toes every day.
“He’ll be 3 years old in February,” Catonia said. “He’s continuing to grow. He’s very active given all of the stuff he’s gone through.”
“It feels good to hold him,” Jonathan Sr. said. “We were led by hope, and he’s our walking miracle.”
The Jackson Sun asked the Clevelands — along with a liver transplant recipient who has gotten a second chance at life and a special-needs athletic team that rebounded from a theft — to share their experiences of overcoming obstacles. Their stories of recovery and renewal stand as modern-day miracles in a season when Christians celebrate the miracle of Christmas.
For the Cleveland family, giving their testimony about their son never gets old.
“I tell our story so much because it helps so many people,” Catonia said. “They’re usually in tears.”
The Jackson couple said that every day is a holiday for their family. But as they approach Christmas, they are appreciative and thankful this holiday season.
Catonia is a stay-at-home mom, while Jonathan Sr. works at ARJ Manufacturing. They have two other children — Andrew, 16, is a junior at North Side High School, and Sarah, 7, is a second-grader at Thelma Barker Elementary.
Nicknamed “Tigger,” Jonathan II is a bundle of energy bouncing around any space he occupies while he talks or sings loudly.