I’ve never been pulled from a burning building by a strapping firefighter. No Speedo-clad lifeguard has ever forced air back into my lungs. My kidneys are both my own, not donations from selfless strangers.
The heroes in my life have been quieter, less obvious. My mom, shooing a wasp that had stung me when I was a kid. She chased the thing 50 yards just to make me feel better. My dad, calming down a church youth group in the throes of a gigantic fight- it wasn’t his responsibility, but he stepped in when the other “adults” were helplessly embroiled in the fight themselves. The perinatologist who told us Raisin’s kidneys were fine and that she absolutely did not have Down’s Syndrome (I wrote a post about this once, I think, but I can’t find it.). Dr. Amish, whom I mocked, but who presided over the safe delivery of Apple and Orange, and who ditched some other poor mother in order to do so. (I realize now that she probably actually is a Mennonite, which makes my mocking completely inappropriate. She is also a splendid doctor, so let’s escalate “inappropriate” to “complete jackass.” My only excuse is pregnancy.) Unlikely heroes, but to my grateful heart these people appeared just as noble as the soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
This week I have a new hero, an Orthodox Jew who practices pediatric neurology.* As you might expect, there is a Story behind our meeting with him. The pediatrician who examined Orange in the hospital noticed that her mouth pulled to the right when she cried. He wasn’t sure what to make of it, but he couldn’t find any other reason for concern, so he recommended that we “keep an eye on it.”
Dutiful parents that we are, we mentioned it to our regular doctor at Orange and Apple’s two-week checkup. And at two months, and at four months, and at six months. It didn’t get better. It didn’t get worse. Every time, the doctor said, “keep an eye on it.” Finally, at the nine month visit she referred us to the neurologist.
That was almost a month ago, and I spent the intervening weeks mildly fretting. I really couldn’t get myself too worked up about it — she has been such a normal, happy baby that I couldn’t believe a little mouth curl could be a sign of some horrible hidden defect. Still, the possibility is always there, isn’t it, lurking just below the surface of parental content? There is always That Thing from which we won’t be able to protect our kids: The Thing against which car seats and healthy diets and sunscreen are powerless.
I refused to Google anything, and hence maintained my peace of mind until our appointment yesterday. It was, thanks to my new hero, a blessed non-event. Orange has this, but only that. Although muscle weaknesses in the face can be associated with other congenital problems, often with the heart, Orange has no other symptoms. The doctor didn’t even think it was likely to affect her speech – he said we notice it now because she’s a baby and she cries a lot. As she progresses from crying to telling us what she wants, we probably won’t even see it anymore.
That whooshing sound you heard was 3 weeks worth of pent-up sighs rushing from my lungs. I love this guy.
I also love that he said, “Well, here’s my card, but I’ll be surprised if you ever call me. This is the end of the road for Orange as far as neurology goes. It’s kind of a bummer for me — she’s awfully cute.” Yes, she is, and now I get to enjoy her thoroughly again. Amen.
*It is interesting, isn’t it, that we keep meeting these doctors whose profession is so very modern, and whose faith is so very traditional? Under the circumstances, I can’t wish that we could get to know them better, but I am fascinated by the juxtaposition.