The Girl turned nine months old, even though she was only 9 weeks old just yesterday. It’s funny, the tricks that time likes to play on our minds.
Some tricks that The Girl like to play were:
Standing on her own for several seconds at a time
Saying Mama, Dada, and Baba (but not Alfred)
Saying “hey. hey. hey.” whenever The Mother had ice cream
Signing milk, the one singular time that The Mother didn’t nurse her quickly enough
Making food on her tray disappear, and then magically reappear on the floor
There were a few tricks The Girl hadn’t mastered that The Mother wished she would, such as napping on her own, or playing by herself without The Mother’s assistance. The Mother made it a point to remind herself that just yesterday, The Girl was 9 weeks old, and tomorrow, she would be 9 years old, and The Mother would miss the days like today, when The Girl slept peacefully in her arms, or cuddled up next to her in bed.
One tooth, two teeth, three teeth, four teeth, five teeth, six teeth, seven. Seven teeth. The Girl had seven teeth. She started with two little chipmunk teeth on the bottom, then got two adorably large teeth on the top, then one poked out on the left side of those two, while one poked out underneath on the bottom, and finally, the last little tooth came in on the right of her two top front teeth.
The Mother’s favorite thing about these new teeth wasn’t that she could eat solids, or even that she sometimes nibbled her milk, but it was the way she looked when she was asleep, when her little mouth was open. Only one tooth would be visible, and it was both funny and cute at the same time.
It was January 12th. The Girl had gone 5 whole months without a transfusion, and The Parents and Alfred finally had an answer to that one question that had been on their minds since The Girl was born. The answer was Hereditary Spherocytosis.
What is Hereditary Spherocytosis (HS)? Hereditary Spherocytosis is a rare blood disorder that presents itself in people that are so beautiful that their blood cells are perfectly round little spheres instead of doughnuts or flattened discs, or sickles, for that matter.
What causes HS? Let’s talk about what doesn’t cause HS. Hereditary Spherocytosis is not caused by low iron counts. Eating processed, disgusting rice cereal filled with man-made iron that isn’t highly bioavailable doesn’t magically convert spheres into doughnuts. Anemia, for that matter, is a symptom of a bigger problem, not the problem itself.
Many things can be a result of HS, such as chronic fatigue and weakness, but The Girl was a fighter, and truly showed no signs of lethargy since her last transfusion. She looked and acted like a normal baby who was her chronological age, progressing far past those of her adjusted age. Most days, The Parents completely forgot that she was born 6 weeks early, but they never forgot or discounted all that she overcame.
Another new thing that The Girl was actually fond of was baths in the tub. Much to The Mother’s surprise, she wasn’t scared when the water was running, or draining. Once she learned the joys of splashing, nothing else really mattered.
One thing The Girl didn’t understand is why Alfred couldn’t take a bath with her.
“You’re an octopus. You like water.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
The Girl left it at that. She had known Alfred enough to realize he was an octopus enshrouded in mystery, and he liked it that way.