Lola Grace was born one month prematurely on April 28, 2006 after a fairly normal pregnancy and an oh-so-speedy (natural!) delivery. Due to the fact that her big sister, Claire, has a genetic condition called microcephaly, meaning a small brain and head, we monitored this pregnancy closely via ultrasound. We were told that we had a 25% chance for recurrence, but the risk was worth it to us to have another baby.
We never expected to hear that Lola was also affected, but at our 22-week sonogram, her head measurements showed considerable lag, and microcephaly was confirmed a month later. Obviously this was a huge shock to us, as we felt confident that it would not happen again (we knew we had a 75% or greater chance that all would be OK) and all measurements were on track until that point. We were devastated initially, but this soon passed as we realized that this was the same child that we waited nearly five years to conceive, the same child that we wanted desperately, and the same child that we loved with everything in us, regardless of the size of her head. We knew the immense joy that Claire brought to our family, and we had no doubt that Lola would enrich our lives beyond belief as well.
Considering we'd already been through the ringer with Claire about five years earlier, we knew that we did not want the labor, delivery, or her life in general to be anything less than serene and perfect. We already felt once what it was like to have our baby whisked away, poked and prodded, and evaluated to the "nth degree." That's not living, as far as we're concerned, and we are pretty much "experts" on Claire, so we felt confident that we'd know how to care for Lola, too. Therefore, per our requests, "microcephaly" was never mentioned during Lola's birth, she was treated like any other baby, and her delivery was very healing for our family in many ways. It WAS perfection. In addition, we refused all testing for Lola after her birth, as we had already "been there, done that" once with Claire, and we STILL had no answers about why this occurred.
Lola is very similar to her older sister in many ways, but she is also quite different. I think we initially expected more similarities due to the fact they both had congenital microcephaly; however, this is not the case! Lola has muscle stiffness and increased tone like Claire, though their structural issues are quite different. She does not have a feeding tube like Claire; she eats by mouth. We also use an NG tube with Lola as needed, due to the fact she is not able to be put under anesthesia. And though both girls have seizures, Claire's are longer yet less frequent while Lola's are shorter & occur in clusters. (Confused yet?! HA!) I was blessed to have been able to breastfeed Lola for just over 2 years (compared to 8 months with Claire. Don't hate...HA!), which was such an amazing bonding experience. I will never forget those precious moments we shared. (Though I am not ashamed to admit that I was BEYOND GLAD to finally return my rented breast pump and never see it again for the rest of my friggin' LIFE! 2+ years of nursing with an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) followed by pumping 3-5 times daily was enough to drive me
batshit loco! But again, it was SO. WORTH. IT!)
Today, Lola drinks a goat's milk formula by bottle (which is all Miss Sensitive can tolerate!). She also eats organic baby foods by spoon. We continue to search to find foods she is not allergic to, though it has been tough. Lola LOVES to eat, does so as often as a newborn & let's just say, she can put it away! Her big sister, on the other hand, FAR prefers being fed via g-tube. So, you'd think that Lola would be growing faster than her sister, right? Alas, Lola is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller than Claire was at this same age -- to the tune of 5+ POUNDS smaller! Go figure. I need an instruction manual!
Lola does have dwarfism, reflux (her deadliest weapon ~ our girl can projectile vomit with the best of 'em, topping out at 12 ft. in distance! Based on size, that would be like an average sized adult vomiting approximately 35 ft. in distance?! Our girl's got skillz, yo.), Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, two of the cutest little strawberry birthmarks you've ever seen (on her chin & chest), and extreme stubbornness. We thought CLAIRE was a diva... well, Lola is working hard to show her sister up! She is also a thrill seeker, unlike big sis, and she will give us the CUTEST, subtle grins if we toss her in the air, zoom her around, or swing her in circles. Our little daredevil knows NO FEAR!
|Lola with her GG (Great Grandma Alice) ~ September 2012|
We know that our family is definitely not "the norm." We know that we are basically a walking freakshow when we go out in public (!), as we have not one tiny-headed, non-mobile, non-verbal dwarf, but TWO. We feel the pity and the judgment, we hear the comments, questions & remarks, and we see the stares, elbow nudging, and sheer surprise -- and none of this matters to us, because WE LOVE OUR LIFE. We love our three children, feel blessed by each unique child, and wouldn't change one thing about our life or what we've been through. We only wish everyone could feel what *WE* feel on a daily basis.