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The Slaying of the Dragon

The old me died in a puddle of tears on that birthing table as my daughter whisked freshly from my body was clucked over and examined and I was left paralyzed from the waist down, terrified and alone. I was reborn into a new world where all of my old besties and allies were no longer at my side, where my husband was gone, and where I was, again, alone against the world.

It’s not terribly different, I guess, than how any of us are born, it’s just that I was older and not covered with that cheese-type stuff.

For eighteen months now, I’ve carefully picked up the pieces of who I was and assembled them back into a reasonable representation of who I am now. I discarded some of the old things I didn’t need: the anger that I’d held onto for so long and the inability to let people in and the long-held opinion that I didn’t need anyone but myself to be happy.

In turn, I’ve added some new things that I think I always needed but didn’t realize: I’m warmer, more loving and I’m more thankful of the people who do love me. There are bad things woven in there too, of course. You don’t go through major traumas without picking up some hell along the way. The darkness inside me is heavy sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s more than I can bear.

These shards of who I am now are stitched loosely together with the belief that the universe is far less random than I’d ever thought it was and that someday, it’ll all make more sense. I have to cling to that idea or I’d probably go crazy and shave my head and tattoo a fire-breathing scorpion on it.

Monday morning, I will go back to the place that I was born. Not Highland Park Hospital, where on July 15, 1980, Rebecca Elizabeth Sherrick* was born, but Central DuPage Hospital, where Becky Sherrick Harks was born on January 28, 2009. I haven’t been back since her surgery.

My daughter, her curls like a halo, finally masking the scar that bisects the back of her whole head, she and I will march into the place where we were both born on the very same day. My ghosts will roam the halls with us, carefully holding my hand, gently guiding me find the place where I will take my daughter to help her find her words.

I hope that when I pass the ghost of myself in the hall I can send her a hug; some silent signal of strength from her future self. Because while the darkness is omnipresent, the sadness an integral part, there is always hope. I hope that she knows that the future is large and that while she will rage, trying to fit in to a world that no longer exists, in all that she has lost, there will be more that she gains.

Monday, the flowers in the vase on the desk will be fresh, and the volunteers will smile, confused by the visibly upset young woman and her beautiful daughter. They will not understand that sometimes, it just hurts.

They will not understand that sometimes, you slay the dragon.

Sometimes the dragon slays you.

Today, Amelia, Princess of the Bells**, she and I will slay my dragon.


*what? You didn’t think my parents named me Aunt Becky, did you?

**Amelia, by my amazing friend the Star Crossed Writer

An army stands ten thousand strong and tall,
But you shall rise above the bloody fray
And rain down vengeance ‘pon your enemies
And all those who would stand against your will.

When darkness threatens fainter hearts than yours
And calls ring out for champions to arise,
The cries will cease and everyone will see
Amelia, the Princess of the Bells.

Chordae Tendinae

Human anatomy I’ve always found to be a strikingly tender science. Certainly, I always loved the dryness of the carbon chains and the satisfaction of growing new strains of bacterium, but seeing the human body and lovingly learning all of the nooks and crannies, all of the ways that we are all the same underneath, that is beautiful.

I always heard civilians shudder when I explained that I would be assisting with a dissection.

“Gross,” they would say. “I could NEVER do something like that.”

When pressed, I never got anything more specific from them, which meant that they’d never seen one, because the body, well, the human body is not gross. It is resplendent. It is powerful. It is amazing. It is beautiful.

All of the organ systems functioning in synchronicity so that we are able to walk upright, speak, form words, paint beautiful pictures, draw pictures with our written words, love, that is not gross. And that is what human anatomy is.

Inside, we are even more beautiful than out.

Rarely, however, do the names of the parts of the body reflect their beauty.

Often, they’re named after the anatomist who found them because scientists are about as self-serving and obnoxious as bloggers. The Islets of Langerhans, for example may bring to mind a nice set of islands found off the coast of Ireland, but no, they’re actually endocrine-producing cells of the pancreas.

Even the very word pancreas sounds more like something you’d find dead on the side of the road than something that creates the body’s most important enzymes. But to say it aloud sounds dirty, something you spit out of your mouth, a splat, an inelegant word for a very elegant organ.

The day we learned of the heart, I came across the words chordae tendineae, and I stopped for a moment. Latin words make me happy, which is probably, in part, why I am so attracted to virology. Continuing on, I read what this curious, elegant term meant.

The chordae tendineae are tendinous cords of dense tissue that connect the two atrioventricular valves to their papillary muscles in the hearts ventricles.

The chordae tendineae are the heart strings.

That is probably the most graceful and magnificent term I have ever heard and the best representation of why I find human anatomy so intoxicatingly lovely. We human beings actually have heart strings.

Whenever I am sad, I think of those tiny strings, which I have seen with my own eyes, felt with my fingers, those strings of fibrous tissue, so very much stronger than they look, and I am comforted by the heart strings that bind us all.

On my refrigerator hangs a report from Early Intervention with my daughter’s name on it. It is a discharge sheet that states that she is at or above level for everything. It was true then. It is not true any longer. I cannot bear to take it down, because to take it down would be to admit defeat.

I will not be defeated. My daughter will not be defeated.

When I called my case worker, she sounded so sad to hear from me, her voice mirroring my own. It didn’t help that the only sheet of paper I could find with the phone number on it was her discharge from the program with a jaunty, “We enjoyed working with your family!” on it.

The therapist will come several days after my 30th birthday to evaluate my daughter and to tell me what I already know: Amelia is not normal. Amelia needs help. I am a trained diagnostician and I am aware of both of these facts. I am also aware that I am doing the right things. But knowing this doesn’t make this any easier for me.

There is something between her brilliantly big brain and delicate rosebud mouth that isn’t connecting properly. It fills me with a well of sorrow I didn’t even know I had, because I want so badly to hear her words. All of her words. Stories of Saturn and the planetarium and pleas for cookies and candy and the injustice of it all when I deny her.

I want to know my daughter.

Instead, I kiss her head and rub her scar and apologize to her for what is certain to be a hard road ahead. My heart strings clench painfully and I cry bitter tears, wishing I could make it easy for her, knowing I can’t.

We’re gearing up for a battle over here and we’ll win.

Eventually. Some way, somehow, we’ll win.

Exaudi Orationem Meam

Hear my prayer, hear my prayer, hear my prayer, please God, hear my prayer.

I instinctively checked the monitors as I approached my daughter who was sprawled out, getting a sunbath underneath the warmer. Her stats were picture perfect, I noticed, breathing a little more easily, and I made my way slowly to her bedside where she was sleeping peacefully.

I slogged my soggy bottom from the wheelchair onto the rocker that had been shoved into her tiny NICU room; barely even a room, more like a broom closet. She was sandwiched in between two misbehaving (“misbehaving” means that their alarms were constantly blaring) babies who I could hear misbehaving.

Most of the NICU, I noted as I was wheeled past, was full of Feeders and Growers. That’s NICU slang for babies that were, for whatever reason, finishing their gestation outside of the womb. It”s always evoked a pleasant picture of a garden of freshly hatched babies.  A Baby Garden.

Of the other babies that I could see cooking away merrily in their incubators, Amelia was the biggest, fattest, and likely the only full- term baby there.

According to her room placement, though, she was the most ill.

Hear my prayer, hear my prayer, hear my prayer, please God, hear my prayer.

My ass firmly planted now onto the chair (I’d had a traumatic vaginal birth mere hours before), I held Amelia’s lone sock as a talisman, hoping it would ward off the Bad News. I was preparing to nurse my daughter again, just waiting for our nurse to come and help me sort through the tangle of wires my daughter was attached to.

It was hard to believe only thirty or so minutes had passed since we’d heard “there’s something sinister on your daughter’s CT scan.”

Our–Amelia’s–nurse walked in and introduced herself to The Daver and I. I was openly weeping, holding onto Mimi’s sock and my iPhone – where the Pranksters live!- as a life preserver. The Daver was pale(r) and stalwart.

I handed off the box of Kleenex that had been pressed onto my lap as we left Mother/Baby and my daughter was brought back to me, hooked up to so many wires that she looked like an electrical outlet. The nurse stood there, kindly talking to us, but not revealing anything.

We still had no idea what was wrong with our daughter. A diagnosis would take weeks. Her life, as far as we knew, hung in the balance.

I begged the nurse to have the house neonatologist visit my daughter as the pediatric neurosurgeon was busily operating on someone’s head somewhere other than the NICU. It’s probably good I didn’t know where he was or I’d have stalked him down and dragged him to my daughter for a diagnosis.

The neonatologist – the one I’d met a lifetime ago in the delivery room, the guy who was always drinking a bottle of something – he came over to Amelia’s “room” and he told us that there was a “bright spot” on Amelia’s CT Scan. He didn’t mean diamonds.

I had no fucking clue what that meant and he didn’t follow it up with much, although I did see his lips move, I couldn’t understand his words.

Guess that’s panic for you.

After the doctor left, the nurse came back in to ask if we’d wanted to see the chaplain; rather to have Amelia meet the chaplain. A thousand times yes.

She was amazing. Just. Incredible. For the next year, it was her words, her warmth and compassion that I kept coming back to. She blessed my daughter. My daughter was blessed.

And she is so, so blessed.

We sat there in the NICU; just the three of us. I couldn’t tell you how long we just sat. Time in the ICU is timeless. 4 AM and 4PM are the same.

Soon enough, I had to go upstairs to change my undergarments and ready myself to see my boys. My sister-in-law was bringing my sons to visit, and I had to put on my Poker Face. Given the raw, chapped and bleeding state of my cheeks, was going to be damn near impossible.

Back in my room, I saw that I’d gotten some flowers and a basket from two of my Pranksters and it made me cry. Then again, I think the package of Saltines that had been ruthlessly thrown on the floor the night before might have made me cry. I wasn’t in a Good Place.

Alex and Ben came in a bit after I’d gotten cleaned up. I held Alex very, very close as Ben showed me some pictures he’d colored of Amelia. Ben knew his sister was sick but Alex (only 22 months old) had no idea what a “sister” was, let alone what being “sick” meant. I held them and faked normal until I got the call from the NICU. Time to nurse the baby.

Talk about being torn.

I cried as I said goodbye to my youngest son–my eldest just wanted to get home and I couldn’t find fault with that–and he cried and yowled “Mooommmmyyy” as he was led away to the elevators that would dump him back into the outside world.

By myself for the first time, I tearfully found my way back to the Secret Place, The Land of  Tears. Never have I felt so sick to my stomach in my life. People stared sympathetically as I wept in the elevator, leaning against the walls for support.

I begged God to let her live, even if she was retarded and her IQ was 43 and had to live at home for the rest of her life, just please let my baby girl live. I didn’t care what was wrong with her so long as she made it out alive. I begged God to take me instead. I’d had 28 wonderful years on the planet already, and she was less than 24 hours old. Certainly, I’d give my life to save her in a moment.

Hear my prayer, hear my prayer, hear my prayer. Please God, hear my prayer.

After scrubbing the top 50 layers of skin from my arm and signing a reasonable facsimile of my name, I wobbled to her bedside. There she was, my girl. Perfect stats, thrashing about her isolette, pissed as hell and looking for something to eat.

In the brief time I’d been gone we’d gotten a new nurse.

When she came in to assess my daughter and saw me crying as I nursed my girl, for the first time in a day, someone asked me what was wrong. I explained that I didn’t know if my daughter would live or die. I told her that no one had told us what could be wrong with her, what that bump COULD be, why she was in the NICU, nothing.

She looked pretty aghast that we’d been told nothing, and for the first time, someone tried to reassure us. I remember leaving the NICU several hours later slightly less burdened.

That night, we ordered a pizza and tried to relax in my somber room. We tried to let go of some of The Fear. I didn’t feel much like celebrating anything, so no balloons, no stuffed animals, no signs that I had just given birth decorated my room. I could have been on any floor, in any room in the hospital.

The nurse brought me my Ambien and the NICU called to tell me that they would bring my daughter up  to nurse every 2 hours (the NICU runs like clockwork. It’s no wonder that new parents struggle to care for their NICU graduate when they get home). I turned on the sound machine to blast white noise over The Daver’s snores, and waited, trying to fall asleep.

Unsurprisingly to no one, I couldn’t get anywhere close to sleep that night. This made the tally of nights without sleep 3.

I was about to lose it.

Somewhere around 4 AM, after someone had barged into my room to empty the wastebasket, waking me from the lightest of light sleep, I panicked. I’d sent Dave down to the NICU to sit with our daughter in the vain hope that having him at her side would set my mind free.

I was alone. The panic that had been a constant dull buzzing had morphed into something much more sinister and I knew what was about to happen.

Frantically, I paged the nurses station because I knew I needed help. I explained as carefully as I could that I was about to have a panic attack and that I needed my nurse NOW. My nurse came in, I don’t remember what she did, but she didn’t want to call my doctors because they would be rounding in a couple of hours and I could ask for something for my anxiety then.

Fucking bitch.

She told me to “relax” and then left.

I tried to “relax” which was as useful as punching myself in the face with a hammer. It didn’t work. I put a call back into the nurses station, begging; pleading with them to call my doctor. I begged for help.

My last rational thought was to quickly inventory anything in the room with any sort of calming properties. The best I could come up with was a bottle of Scope.

I didn’t end up drinking it, but I did call the NICU and beg Dave to come back up. A nurse passing by my room took pity on me and called my doctor, who prescribed me an Ativan. A swarm of people all happened to come into my room at the same time: a partner in my OB practice who looked terrified by me but discharged me anyway, a nurse with that beautiful pill, a tech to get my vitals, and my husband.

It sounds, in retelling this, that they were all there to help, but it wasn’t really like that. Dave and the nurse were trying to calm me down, but the tech, the doctor and whomever was washing the floor were doing their jobs. With spectacularly bad timing.

Ativan on board now, I was trying to gulp some calming breaths and stave off the panic. They’d turned off the lights, and covered my still-swollen body with fresh sheets, cleaned off the bedside table and turned on the white noise machine.

Finally, I began to relax and beat the panic away, if only slightly. Dave held my hand and told me over and over and over again that my daughter was just fine, she was perfect, she was wonderful, she’d done great overnight, she was beautiful, she was going to be just fine. It was soothing to hear, but what would have been MORE soothing? Having her bassinet next to my bed where it belonged instead of three floors below.

Then (dun, dun, DUN), the absolute worst person to show up did.

Lactation services.

Lactation Services showed up, because they say they’ll come by every day you’re in the hospital with a new baby, and they do. It’s awesome for people who need help because breastfeeding is nowhere NEAR as easy as it looks on those weird Lamaze videos.

(also: why are people in the Lamaze videos always naked?)

But I didn’t need help. And when she showed up and saw me shaking in bed, being held by my husband while the nurse clucked around me like a mother hen, lights off, white noise blaring, she should have excused herself. This is not a debate about breast and bottle feeding, this is about decency. But no, she didn’t get the hint.


She introduced herself perkily and asked me how breastfeeding was going, and through clenched teeth, I answered that it was fine. Kinder than the situation warranted.

I expected this to be enough for her, but no, she followed that up with, “Do you have any concerns about breastfeeding?” Wrong question, dipshit. Time, place, all that.

“You know what?” I snarled, “I’m MUCH MORE concerned that my baby is going to die than if I have proper latch, okay?”

Again, she could have gracefully bid be farewell. But no. She kept on keeping on.

“Well, what about your concerns with BREASTFEEDING?” She asked, just not getting it.

I responded with, “Look, if she’s dead, I’m not going to give a FUCK about colostrum, okay? Please!”

I began to sob heavily again. It was the very real truth that my daughter could die. We all knew it. Nursing her wasn’t going to help an encephalocele.

Dave told her to get the fuck out of our room.

Finally, with a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door, I slept for a few hours.

I awoke when The Daver bounded in and announced, “the neurosurgeon ordered an MRI! And he’s really nice! And not concerned! He thinks it’s an encephalocele! It’s a piece of brain or something that’s herniated out! We can go home after the MRI! And follow up with the results next week! Oh, I wish you’d met him. He was so, so nice.”

And just like that, we went from critical to discharged in less than 36 hours.

You + Me Against The World

Even in the NICU, she made her temper known. Her furious bleats echoed from the previously calmer walls, disturbing the other tinier occupants and their parents, and I had the good grace to feel sheepish as my daughter wailed fiercely, her gigantically fat legs and arms pounding against the sides of the isolette.

“Let me the fuck outta here!” she hollered without saying a word.

I echoed the sentiment, with my own words, of course.

My daughter, she is a fighter.

At birth, my Amelia Grace, the fighter, born with her brain hanging from her head, she disturbed the entire labor floor with her angry screams. Indeed, one of the only clear memories I have of her birth is her shrieks, so loud, so furious over the grievous sin of having been forced to be weighed.

(I, of course, feel precisely the same way every Friday when I am weighed in, but, you know, I am much more in control of my tantrums, so I can shriek QUIETLY before having to see the number on the scale)

This trait, this fighter trait, it has never left my daughter, my warrior girl, and it is with intense pride that I see her furiously beat her hands against the floor, shrieking in anger over some injustice, because it is so familiar to me. She is her mother’s daughter and she should know how to fight.

Yes! I say to her, YES, my brave, sweet girl, you FIGHT against it. You get good and god-damned mad and you take that anger and you channel it into something good and you use it for all it’s worth. That is the tiger in you, my child. And you let that tiger out and you let it ROAR and God HELP anyone who gets in your way. That fight will remind you you’re alive.

My little Amelia is a warrior.

If anyone should be born with the spirit of a warrior, passed so handily down from her mother’s DNA, I think it should be a daughter, someone born with the odds stacked so heavily against her.

Still, she doesn’t speak to me and tell me the secrets of her heart, although when I look into her deep brown eyes that mirror so closely my own, I can see them there, just below the surface. The Little Prince was right, what is essential is invisible to the eye. And when my heartstrings pull painfully in my chest, imagining the times when it will be so hard for her, I comfort myself in knowing that the warrior heart that beats within my own chest beats within hers as well.

The secret place, the land of tears, well, that will be hers alone, as it is with all all of us.

As I look at her, awestruck, often bemused by her anger, flared up by the terrible injustice of having been told, “no, no we’re not having candy for dinner,” I never forget how lucky I am to have her by my side.

Her speech therapy will begin soon. She’s operating at quite a delay, backsliding from even where she was several months ago. So now we put on our platinum battle armor, polish our diamond coated swords and get ready, because it’s time for the fight to begin.

My Miracle Mimi, my Warrior Principessa; it’s you and me against the world, kid.

So watch out, world.

This Secret Place, The Land of Tears

hen I showed up to the pediatric transplant unit for my first day of residency, it was mercifully dark and quiet, the nurses flitting purposefully about as stealthily as they could. The only sounds I could make out beyond the steady mechanical hum found on any hospital unit were the occasional IV beeping, signifying, perhaps, an occlusion in the line or that a bag of fluids was now emptied. It was quieter than any unit I’d ever been on before.

Reds and blues and bright yellows lined the hallway and I noted cheerful balloons painted on the walls as I thought to myself, how wonderfully non-clinical it all looked. How perfectly child-like. It seemed only fair that if a kid were sick enough to have to be in the hospital, at the very least, they could feel at home.

I spied a television with a DVD player and PlayStation stashed in a corner, and marveled at how this hospital really had been designed with children in mind. The unit fridge was stocked with puddings and chocolate milk and chips and graham crackers; all stuff my own two-year old would have happily eaten. I felt as though I might actually be in some sort of elaborate daycare facility rather than a major children’s hospital. There was even a McDonald’s in the basement.

It wasn’t until I got my first assignment -a baby; severe liver failure- and saw that my one-year old patient was the size of a three-month old that these children weren’t having much fun. These kids weren’t on vacation. They weren’t at daycare. They were sick as hell. Some were well on their way to dying.

And still, even as these children died, life went on outside.

People bustled by on the streets, knowing, perhaps, the name of the hospital and the types of patients, but never knowing that fear. The fear that lives in your gut once something horrible happens to you and you know how in the cosmic scheme of things, there is no “fair.” They’d never know how terrible it is to listen to children -innocent children- in pain. These people would never have to voluntarily inflict pain upon their own flesh, their own blood, because sometimes life deals you a wild card, and you do the best you can.

They’d never know about the secret places in the hospitals, the PICU’s; the NICU’s where small, but real lives routinely hung in the balance. Where cosmic scales made absolutely no sense. Where kids lived and where they died.

This secret place, the land of tears.

When they’d think of hospitals, they’d think of the places where old people went when they were ill. Where your appendix or a foot or two of colon would be removed and you’d go home. Cured. Where you’d splint your broken arm, x-ray a broken leg, and bandage up that nasty gash on your finger. Where old people died.

Hospitals weren’t places for children. Because in a fair and just world, kids wouldn’t get sick and kids wouldn’t die.

Kids wouldn’t be born without brains, or with only part of their brains, or born too early, too soon to live. Babies wouldn’t be born still. Kids wouldn’t need dialysis or organ transplants. No kid should have to know the torture of chemotherapy. No parent should have to send their kid to the morgue. No family should have to plan a funeral for a child.

Death, dying; transplants and cancer, those are things that should affect the old, the people who had loved and lost, married and had their families, kids, grandkids; people who had lived.


My universe is less random than I once thought it to be.

When I birthed my sick daughter, Amelia, it just so happened to be where the very same children’s hospital where I’d previously worked had just opened up a satellite unit. At three weeks of age, she underwent neurosurgery, and for the second time in her life, she became a patient there. First in the NICU, then the PICU.

The monitors blipped intermittently for my daughter, gown bearing the same logo I’d seen so many times before, when her heart rate dipped or she’d forget to breathe and watching them, I’d shake her tiny feet, whispering breathe, baby, breathe into her pink shell of an ear. And then she would inhale, those glorious oxygenating breaths filling her lungs as the monitors would once again blip normal vitals. The alarms would stop shrilly alarming and yet another crisis would wink at us in the rearview mirror as it passed.

Her father and I signed furtively in and out of the NICU, then PICU after we were buzzed in by some unseen, nameless, faceless person into a locked, secret unit; mere ghosts of ourselves. We’d drift in and out for the tenth or sixtieth cup of coffee to keep ourselves awake and functioning, getting gluey food from the cafeteria to put into our mouths and chew, never tasting it. Sometimes, our paths would converge with other shells of parents. We’d smile knowingly as we passed; the kinds of smiles you smile without any trace of joy. Those commiserative, “you too, eh? Well, FUCK,” smiles, not the, “hey, friend, how are you?” kinds.

We learned later that we were the lucky ones. The ones that were buzzed out of this unit with our daughter in her carseat, strapped tightly in and screaming her head off.

The unit of sadness, of broken dreams and tears. Laughter and heartache.

This secret place, the land of tears.

More Than Words

The first time I saw a brain, a real brain, suspended in some greenish liquid at the front of my gross anatomy lab, I stood there, staring at it for a good long while. I was long past being disgusted by the organs of the human body, and seeing the folds of the creamy white tissue struck me only with a sense of wonder. This was it, right there: all that you were, all that you thought, all that made you you was right there in that innocuous looking organ.

Really, it could have been a football for as glamorous as it looked.

But to know how it worked, studying the nuances of neurology, that is poetry. All of the mysteries that we still do not know about how the synapses fire to make one person want to maim and dismember and one person want to paint the Sistine Chapel, that is beauty. The smooth folds folding seamlessly into each other made up separate and distinct parts of the brain and instinctively I rattled them off in my head as I examined the brain in the jar: the cerebral cortex, responsible for how we are feeling, our emotions. Those that make someone laugh or weep, smile or scream, right there.

The parietal lobe, which is how we use all of our senses at once to make decisions, the back of the head responsible for sight, the very sense I was using to examine the brain I was so enthralled by. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to drive a car, see the deep brown of my son’s eyes, the bright red of the fall leaves outside of the classroom. One by one, I observed all of these structures on that brain, carefully preserved in formalin in a jar labeled ABBY NORMAL.

How could something that looked like a Nerf ball be so mystifying and so shockingly resplendent in it’s simplicity at the same time? Something that made each of us who we are should have looked unique, special, like a jewel and somehow, the more brains I saw, the more I realized that they all looked pretty much the same.

Maybe it’s what we do with those hunks of white matter that contains the beauty, because with the exception of the cerebellum (which is surprisingly beautiful), it’s a highly understated organ, especially when compared to something flashy like the kidneys.

When my daughter was born with part of her brain hanging jauntily out of the back of her head, the doctors pretty much shrugged their shoulders when we asked what that meant about her future. While she showed no signs of neurological damage, she could be profoundly normal or profoundly retarded, it simply wasn’t something that could be determined by a blood test or an MRI.

Up until she was a year old, Amelia was followed by Early Intervention, who came every couple of months, tested her, declared her normal and left. When she turned a year, I figured it was probably time to let them close the case on her for now and promise to make a call back if something changed. I know the drill with special needs kids well enough, and her medical diagnosis is an immediate qualifier for assistance.

It’s taken me until now to realize that there is actually something wrong with her beautiful brain.

Amelia has no words.

She has no words.

No glorious words, the very thing that I make my (pathetic) living from, she has none. I’ve always derived so much happiness in putting together combination of words to titillate, horrify, or move people, and she has not one word.

She’s had words before, they’ve slipped out of her mouth for a couple of days until it appears that she forgets them and goes back to shrieking and grunting to get her point across. In many ways, this terrifies me more than seeing my mute autistic son did, because it seems as though she has words, then loses them again.

It’s time to call the specialists back in and help my daughter find her words.

For good, this time.

I have a lot of delicious combinations to teach her.