You were born, January 28, 2009, amid the whirring and clicking of the NICU team, over my frantic wails, and my doctor’s shouts of “GET THE NICU IN HERE STAT,” a whopper of a baby. Your rolls had rolls, making you look like a mini Stay Puft Marshmallow Baby. I longed, from my place on the bed where I lay weeping, to examine every one of those rolls. There’s nothing I love more than a brand new roly-poly, chubby cheeked, shit machine.
But it wasn’t so simple, was it?
Amelia, you were born with a defect on your head. Right after you were born, it seemed as though it was probably a cosmetic issue, a benign cyst upon your wee head. The alternative, I knew from years of medical and nursing training, was a big. fucking. deal. indeed.
Guess which one you had?
My daughter, you are always the overachiever.
We had about twelve hours between birth and diagnosis in which we feverishly hoped that it was a boring cyst – your daddy and I and your Internet Aunts and Uncles hoped and prayed that you would be okay. It was only after your first CT Scan (I have to note that there is NO heading in your baby book for “Baby’s First CT Scan” which makes me think those baby book people have it ALL WRONG)(Okay, you don’t have a baby book. I really WISH you did, but you don’t)(sorry kiddo) that we learned that you were more of an overachiever than your mother.
It took hours to talk to a doctor that day, but when we did, the news wasn’t good. You’d already been ripped away from me and whisked off to the NICU, leaving your daddy and I to howl in sadness in our now-empty room. Your dad had tracked down your neurologist and was told that you had a neural tube defect. An encephalocele. You would need major neurosurgery and soon.
Amelia, why did you have to be such an overachiever?
It was there in the NICU that you were given your middle name – Grace. For you, in the face of all this adversity, showed me what grace looked like. Your father, he named you there.
The diagnosis left the future full of question marks (and you with a scar that neatly bisects the back of your head). Would you be normal? Would you survive? Would you learn as your brothers had?
The answer has always been a resounding *shrugs*
See most kids, my tiny overachiever, who have neural tube defects in the location that you did, do not survive. Most die before or after birth. Such a small handful of children with posterior encephaloceles survive that there is almost no data about them.
You are not only a million dollar baby, but a one in a million child.
For you are easily the smartest of my three very smart children. The connections you make between things. The way you understand concepts that puzzle most adults, that is nothing short of a miracle.
You are nothing short of a miracle.
In your short years, Amelia, you have done more good than any three-year old should be capable of. While your birth shattered me, you’ve helped assemble me back into a new person; a better person. You have given hope to people who have never met you, hope for parents whose children have the very same diagnosis – encephalocele – that you do.
You are the sole reason that Band Back Together exists. Through The Band, you have saved lives – actual lives.
That is nothing short of a miracle.
So to you, on the day before your third birthday, my darling girl, I want to thank you. For all you have given me. For the light you’ve bestowed upon the world, and your light – a light that continues to shine.
May your light always shine brightly, Amelia Grace.
I’m not entirely certain why you added to my list of recommendations, the show Hoarders, but since you did, I had the compulsion (see what I did there?) to watch it. I’d never seen the show, Netflix, because I figured that seeing 10,000 empty bottles and rotted animal carcasses was not exactly my idear of a good time. Now, if they’d showed people eating their weight in Captain Crunch, that’s another story. In fact, you should make that a show. I’d so be there.
For the first time ever, I chose to watch the show.
First, let me say that watching mentally ill people do wacky things isn’t my idea of a good time. I know mental illness. I HAVE a mental illness (PTSD IN DA HOUUUUSE!). I work with mental illness on Band Back Together. I’m intimately familiar with it and generally have no need to watch other mentally ill people be, well, mentally ill.
But you got me there, Netflix. You did. Since you told me I “should” watch it, I did.
I’m going to be honest here – I wasn’t as horrified as you might think. I’m not sure that’s an entirely good thing, though.
But I will give you some props, Netflix, for suggesting I watch Hoarders. Never, ever, have I wanted to get up at 11PM and clean my house. Never. Ever. And the only reason I haven’t done so yet is that I realized I’d wake up sleeping children which, Netflix, isn’t exactly full of the awesome.
Frankly, Netflix, I’m in debt to you. It’s like you somehow read my blog and knew that I had a super sekret (read: lame) resolution this year. No, not the whole, “not become Lil Wayne” thing, because that’s sorta a given. It would take a hell of a lot of sizzurp to turn me into that….um…thing.
But it’s made it hella easy for me to WANT to go down to the basement and somehow dry out 9,473 cans of ancient green paint to throw away. I suddenly cannot WAIT to donate my old clothing to charity. My children’s toy bins full ‘o’ crap shall be emptied!
(I think, Netflix, I’m going to donate some of the nice kids clothes to the Band Back Together auction this spring, because an Internet Garage sale seems awkward)
My resolution, thanks to you, Netflix, will be fulfilled.
So to you, Hoarders (and Netflix), I am forever indebted. Although, you do owe me some bleach for my eyes.
P.S. If you recommend I watch Intervention, I’m canceling your ass.
P.P.S. You should know better than to suggest I watch the Super Mario Brothers Super Show. That’s just cruel.
7: cans of paint bought in the last 2 weeks
9,284: cans of half-used paint found in my basement, all of questionable color and/or origin
2: light fixtures bought in last two weeks
2: light fixtures that need to be disposed of in such a way that NO ONE will ever know they came from my house.
1: little girl who is determined she will be a “big three” as opposed to a “little three.”
0: times that has made sense to me.
15: bags of lollipops purchased to make topiary trees.
10: times I was given the stink-eye by the cashier who is probably suspecting that I have a hoarding problem and is therefore looking for evidence of dead cats somewhere on my person.
0: dead cats in my house.
0: percent certainty this is, in fact, true.
12: cupcakes eaten to fuel the sugar-rush that this level of cleaning and renovation requires.
36: cookies needed to back up the cupcake sugar rush
9: number of wrong cuts made by The Guy On My Couch while replacing mouldings
13: length in feet of wasted moulding caused by those cuts
2: people who think it’s hilarious that he can’t remember which way the angle goes on some of those cuts
0: times I have believed that “moulding” is a real word.
1,028,928,002: times I have been certain that “logicate” is a real word.
30,000: number of people who are probably showing up at my house this weekend.
30,000: number of people who are probably going to criticize my bad taste in decor and/or inability to make my house look like a magazine.
30,000: number of people who I will try to pawn aforementioned light fixtures off upon.
0: times I have understood why boob lights are all the rage.
0: other types of ceiling lights available for those of us who do not want to think, “HOLY FUCKBALLS, CHECK OUT THAT BOOB ON MY CEILING!” every morning.
9,726,043: minutes I have spent trying to understand boob lights.
Your turn, Pranksters. Pull up a nice glass of vodka and tell Your Aunt Becky what is going on with YOU today.