Friday, September 29, 2017

Microcephaly Day | September 30

Microcephaly awareness day is tomorrow, September 30. Although we will never know the actual cause of Sarah's delays, her pediatrician suspects that at some point early in my pregnancy, her brain suffered from a lack of oxygen.

When she was born, she was so tiny despite being almost 1.5 weeks overdue. Barely six pounds and 17 inches tall. I had never held a baby so tiny.

We had never heard the term "Microcephaly" until we began seeing our current pediatrician around Sarah's third birthday. His diagnosis was almost instant as soon as he saw her. The Mayo Clinic defines microcephaly as:

"a rare neurological condition in which an infant's head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex. Sometimes detected at birth, microcephaly usually is the result of the brain developing abnormally in the womb or not growing as it should after birth." (Mayo Clinic)

I believe that microcephaly is the greater diagnosis rather than the cerebral palsy. I have no medical reasoning other than doing my own research and seeing the effects of it. Sarah's head circumference is 47.6 centimeters which is average for a 20-22 month old. In comparison, a nine year old should have a head size of about 52 centimetres.

The consequences of microcephaly are:

"...depending on the cause and severity of the microcephaly, complications may include: 
  • Developmental delays, such as in speech and movement
  • Difficulties with coordination and balance
  • Dwarfism or short stature
  • Facial distortions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures"
(Mayo Clinic)

With Sarah, the most obvious effects of microcephaly are her severe developmental delays. She doesn't act, behave, speak or learn like a typical 9 year old. Instead it's as though we have a 3-4 year old all the time. We have seen that over time, her coordination and balance have improved quite a bit. She struggles to walk long distances so the stroller is still a useful tool in our lives. 

She loves life. Other than a few things that make her unhappy, she is an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Her family is her world and many times during the day she will check in with me as to everyone's whereabouts. Sometimes she will just say "mom" to make sure I'm still around. She is so easy to please with a walk, visit to a park or a quick trip out for some fries or a donut. She loves to play with Duplo, wooden trains, and stuffed animals. 

Having a child with a "special needs" label was not something I ever thought I'd have but Sarah has enriched my life in ways that I cannot explain. I am blessed and can't imagine life any other way.

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