It was on my 33rd birthday that I officially received the news from our pediatrician during Elle’s 6 month well child check that it was time to have my luminous blue eyed baby girl evaluated by a few other professionals at Children’s hospital in Seattle. The doctor validated in my frenetic and obsessive mind what I already knew to be true in my heart; Ellie was not “normal”. Devastated. On the floor, devastated.
By then I am pretty sure my pediatrician’s office had Elle’s chart labeled with a red circle sticker. You never want to be that patient, let me tell you. Eyes roll when you come in for a visit or the triage nurse’s voice is indifferent and annoyed by your recurring calls. I was that mom. Weekly calls, work in appointments at 4:30pm for ambiguous and elusive concerns. Spinning, searching, desperate, afraid. Why is she holding her head funny, she smacks her tongue a lot, why does she flap her arms ? None of these things in and of themselves were abnormal to Elle’s pediatrician but finally by the age of 6 months, the secret whispers of my inner voice were outwardly acknowledged by the white coated experts.
I still remember checking out at the front desk after this appointment, with Elle resting on my left hip and Amelia bravely standing next to me up against my right side. The front desk girl politely handed me a stack of paper referrals to a pediatric ophthalmologist, a referral to early intervention, and a referral to the infamous Dr. McGlaughphlin, the attending physician at Seattle Children’s Department of Pediatric Neurodevelopment. Quite a gift for my 33rd birthday one might say. It certainly was not something I had asked for nor something that I had knowingly ever desired. Typically all I ever have want on my birthday is a Baskin and Robbins jamocan almond fudge icecream cake, anything to do with Matt Damon, sunflowers, or kittens . But what do you do with an unwanted gift that you technically can never return ?
I wish my 47 year old self could have been there that day to hug, comfort and talk with my 33 year old self. I wish I could have looked in her eyes and held her firmly until she knew deep in her soul in that moment what she would come to know in her heart and mind over the next 15 years. Life is not fair, but you and Elle are going to be more than just ok. This is not going to be easy, but you and those who choose to remain by your side, will grow from this in so many ways that you can not even begin to comprehend at this time. Your marriage will struggle but it won’t be long until you will see that God aligned you with a man that demonstrates daily, the truest meaning of the word LOVE. Because of their sister, your children will grow up not taking the simplest milestones for granted and will always understand the value of thinking of others first before themselves. She will bring a sweet love, a golden light from god’s angels to every life she touches. And most importantly Shelley, you will learn to accept and love what is not perfect, including yourself.