LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The tow-headed toddler that zooms through the yard is a flash of fiery orange hair atop of flurry of motion.
The long eyelashes that frame the big blue eyes accent the lips that part to share a heartwarming smile to those she knows and loves.
Had her eyes been green rather than blue, she could pass for a leprechaun - which would further accentuate the Irish heritage from her father’s maternal family ancestry.
“I love you more” and “I love you big” is standard conversation for the three-year-old as she climbs into someone’s lap with a book in hand and the request, “Read to me.”
Her ultimate love for “choc-it milk” is challenged only by her many “Mimmie Mouse” clothes and figures while the Care Bear that Santa brought her for Christmas is her near constant companion.
The joy she brings and spreads to those around her is no greater than any other child or grandchild of any other doting family. The difference comes into play when we realize we may never have had this joy.
Faithful readers of this column are well-versed with the trauma that came with our Autumn’s entry into the world - nine weeks early, born at Saint Joseph London, and flown out to UK’s Children’s NICU unit.
The outstanding team of professionals at the London hospital worked miracles as this tiny being entered the world, but they are not equipped for babies under five pounds. As family members waited anxiously, peering through the windows of the nursery, doctors and nurses constantly monitored this newborn child until the special neonatal medical helicopter traveled from Lexington to London that October evening in 2010.
The first visit into the neonatal unit that night was a terrifying experience that will forever be imprinted into my memory. Needles and tubes emerged from the small plastic bubble covering a tiny bed, while large monitoring machines sat nearby. That tiny baby tossed and turned among the many wires and tubes, clad only in a minute diaper as intravenous feeding took place. The “what if’s” weighed heavy on the heart and mind. Two other hospitalizations for breathing problems during her first two months of life deepened the concern for this precious child.