Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looks can be deceiving

I have been keeping Sonzee's baby brother out of the public as much as possible since he was born because once you have a had a newborn baby hospitalized, regardless of the reasoning, you don't want to relive any part of that hellish event what-so-ever.  So with it being a particularly bad flu and RSV season, limited exposure to others has been our way of life.  With him being a little over a month, I decided to take him with me this morning to pick up curbside groceries and then to the post office to run in quickly to buy some stamps and send out 4 larger brown envelopes.

I was carrying him on my chest and was waiting in line to weigh the envelopes when a nice older woman walked up behind me and started with her doting comments. 

"Ooooohhhh, a brand new baby"
(I smiled)
"Ohhhh, so tiny...how old?"
("a month")
"Oh, 30 days...so sweet....well, he looks healthy...."
(head nod and smile)

There I stood in the line at the post office, stunned into silence, not knowing what to say and not wanting to engage in dialogue, but with my mind having so much to say.   "Ya, so does my atypical toddler who has a rare genetic mutation and is at home with her nurse"..."What does that even mean? What exactly is your point? and What made you say that?"  My heart stung a little and sadness overtook me for the split second that it took before it was my turn at the kiosk.

When Sonzee was a month old she was already diagnosed with epilepsy.  For all intents and purposes, she too "looked healthy" despite graduating out of the NICU just 2 weeks prior.  She was growing typically and in fact was my only daughter to be in the 50th percentile for height and weight (ever).  She didn't have any feeding tubes or surgical scars.  She had already had 3 lumbar punctures, a 45 min EEG, MRI, numerous blood tests, genetic testing pending, and a PEMU stay under her belt.  She was already delayed in all areas of her development, but her deficits were not visible to the naked eye.  I remember how torn I was by the fact that people couldn't tell her daily struggles by merely looking at her.  No physical representation of the inner hell she was experiencing daily or the struggles we were facing.

I kissed Sonzee's brother's head and wondered what this woman thought "unhealthy" looked like.  I wondered what experiences in her life, with maybe her child or grandchild, specifically compelled her to make the comment.  I can't and wouldn't honestly be able to wrap my head around Sonzee's brother (g-d forbid) not being healthy, but we don't know what his journey has in store, and all I have to say is from my personal experience, looks can be deceiving.

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