1. Reily Runs
Reily got her first cast when she was two weeks old. Toe to hip. Both legs. Her last cast was about 8 months ago and she'll likely be sporting another for the Holidays (I'll save you a spot to sign). She had surgery on both feet, wore a fancy shoe brace and a not so fancy hip brace that earned her the nickname Frogger. And yet, she runs. And runs. And runs, runs, dances and runs. Not bad for a kid with bi-lateral club feet so severe it was detected in my womb. Check her out.
2. Reily Eats
The only thing keeping Reily in the NICU after 30 days was an ability to eat. She couldn't get the suck, swallow, breathe thing down. Enter the feeding tube. A surgeon pulled her stomach close enough to her abdomen to attach a button. That button connected to a tube that connected to a big syringe that when filled with formula was pushed directly to her stomach. It was gross. It was scary. It cured me of being squeamish. For a year and a half, the village tried to feed Reily three times a day by mouth. It didn't work. She choked, she spit it out, she refused to eat. It was the most valuable lesson in patience I have ever learned. And then, Papa made asparagus feta puree and she was hooked. Six months later the tube was removed and she hasn't stopped eating since. Seriously, she doesn't stop. Send food.
3. Reily Talks
I am pretty sure Reily is bilingual. Her first word was Agua. But, since I don't speak Spanish, I can't be sure that she isn't fluent. However, when she chooses to speak English she is pretty consistent in communicating exactly what she wants. Granted, she's not reciting Shakespearean soliloquies; not that you'd expect that from a 5 year old. Regardless, she communicates! She knows what she wants and tell me. In case you are curious, Berries (blueberries) and Bars (breakfast bars) are a top priority. Second only to Walk, Bye-Bye and Elmo. Speaking of Elmo...
4. Reily Loves Elmo
Every parent has their opinions on TV. Parking your kid in front of a television may be frowned upon, but when Reily discovered Elmo, I DVRed every daily Sesame Street episode. I spend a lot of time "playing with a purpose," but, having 30 minutes of independent play time so that I can do dishes...well, I am just glad she didn't discover The Jersey Shore. Independent play. It sounds so psycho-babble. But, it extends beyond Elmo to books and puzzles and activities that don't require constant intense supervision. Reily has discovered much more than Elmo, she's found something that keeps her attention.
5. Reily Hugs
Reily is on the "autism spectrum," for whatever that means. The truth is that Reily is missing a tiny portion of her 2nd chromosome and there are no other cases in medical history of the same isolated chromosomal micro-deletion. That doesn't make her autistic. Or maybe it does. Who knows? What I do know is that she gives hugs freely. She gives kisses. Her laughter is infectious. She is happy.
My daughter is happy. She is different and quirky and incredibly happy. Happy birthday, baby girl.