Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Baby Girl

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Baby Girl

Article excerpt

Our story starts out like the Great American Dream. Man fails in love with Woman. Woman fails in love with Man. They get married and buy a home. A short time later, their firstborn -- a son -- comes along, whole and happy. Life is tough but it is good. A little while later, a second child is on the way. This pregnancy is different, very difficult.

But no need for alarm. Complications with the pregnancy occur and the baby is born 15 days early. Still no cause for alarm. The little girl weighs in at six pounds, three ounces and measures 18 1/2 inches. Apgars are fine. On the third day, the family goes home believing again that all is fine in their world. And life goes on.

For the next six weeks they believe that all is well until the pediatrician becomes concerned with the baby girl's lack of development. Still there is no great panic. The doctor says to give the baby girl some time to catch up, since she was a bit premature. So again there is no panic, just caution. By the eighth week, concerns are very real and the doctor would feel better if mom and dad took baby to see a neurologist in the Big City. He would know what to do.

So to the Big City they go. They see the neurologist. He talks very openly and decides to order many tests -- some today, some in a couple of weeks. But he does suspect a problem. The test results are finally known. The baby girl is not perfect. Her brain has stopped growing. He calls it a big word but the parents don't hear anything but the sound of their own hearts falling to the bottom of their chests. How? Why? Those words are all that can be heard over the tears. The advice from the neurologist is to get enrolled in an early stimulation program and to come back for check-ups. So the mother follows the neurologist's advice and calls the nearest rehabilitation hospital.

The baby girl was born in late March. Time passes while paper work and phone calls fill the family's life and now it is August. They go to their first therapy visit. The family could never have guessed the amount of time and effort it takes to care for their baby girl. But love has a way of making the job a little bit easier. And life goes on.

It's now December of the first year and baby girl is sick with a bad cold. Christmas is at the end of the week and the weather is cold but they have to keep their appointment with the neurologist. He comes into the room, does his evaluation, hands the baby girl back to her mother and makes his announcement. "I see no significant changes in her development and I think considering your age ... you have one healthy child and may have more. Considering the financial costs involved, you should put the baby girl's name on a waiting list for a residential home."

The statement is cold. The mother can tell it has been said many times before by this man. It is almost Christmas -- the time of hope and miracles. How could he tell her this now? The baby is sick; of course she won't do well with the tests. All of this goes through the mother's mind in a split second. But instead of falling apart and walking away, the mother strikes back.

"How can you tell me this? She's not a puppy dog I can't housebreak. I won't just drop her by the wayside because it would be easier. My husband and I chose to have her as we chose to have our son. …

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