Ella and I took a walk today. I held her close to my body and as she embraced me she let the wind blow on her face, squeals of delight came from her each time mother nature whisked past her.
She laughed and made silly faces at me. She reached for objects far out of her reach. She looked around at her world, at our world.
She yawned three-fourths of the way through our walk.
I repositioned her into the cradle position and the brightness of the sun forced her eyes shut. They were tightly closed for a few feet then I saw them relax. Her body molded perfectly with mine as my gait lulled her to sleep. Wrapped in my hold, she slept with not a care in the world.
Her parents, on the other hand, have a lot on their minds.
Ella saw her pediatrician today; Dr. Murphy. We love Dr. Murphy. She is kind, honest, straight-forward, sensible and a damn good doctor. She loves our children...we know that simply by the way she interacts with them. Whenever we've had a concern with one of our kids, Dr. Murphy was right on it. She always errs on the side of caution; just the way we like it. She has done wonderfully by us.
Ella's visit with Dr. Murphy showed a different side of our beloved pediatrician. She talked with Lindsay as usual, listened with genuine ears as usual, and loved Ella upon seeing her as usual. The difference came when she examined our baby girl.
Doctor Murphy put her incredible bedside manner gently aside and took Ella as her focus. A focus that Lindsay hadn't seen until now. Dr. Murphy let the training and experience she has as a top-notch doctor take her through the examination. She gently lifted Ella, looked at her hands, tried to have her bear weight on her little legs. She thought to herself; she reasoned with all she knew about baby development. The examination took on a life of its own as Dr. Murphy and Ella did the delicate dance that a patient and doctor might do. She was searching. Searching for a clue. Searching to be able to tell Lindsay something that would ease her mind and subdue her urge to cry.
The examination ended as quickly as it started and Dr. Murphy once again adopted the bedside manner we are accostomed to. Her training had served her well and her expereince even better.
She knows something is not quite right with Ella Sabine. She knows that it could be one of a thousand problems. She knows it could be something as "simple" as a developmental delay that will require intense physical therapy or something as "complicated" as a tumor that would require brain surgery. The possibilities are open.
With grace and understanding, Dr. Murphy has placed us on the path that we need to travel. Ella will have an MRI next Thursday and then an appointment with a pediatric neurologist the very next day. The medical team we are now working with wants no delay.
Lindsay and I continue to talk. The conversations have taken on a different tone. A reality that was not quite evident is now present. There is something not quite right. We look to the future, both immediate and long-term, and know that whatever we are called to do we will do it together. We will do whatever it takes to allow Ella to be the very person she intends to be, that God intends her to be.
There's a different atmosphere in the Casten household. An atmosphere of unity coupled with the apprehension of the unknown. Lindsay feels it, I feel it, Ava knows of it (she has invented the "Handy Dandy Machine" in her drawings that is designed to help Ella crawl and walk), Henry reacts to it (he is more loving now than ever before), and Ella embraces it.
Ella embraces it.
She laughs and makes funny faces, she reaches for her world. She dances her dance and plays games with her tongue. She hugs the people around her and she delights in what the world has shown her thus far.
This will be a long week. We will try to keep busy. We will continue to talk, to feel, to hug and cry. We will laugh and play, we will sit and reflect. We will thank God for all of His gifts.
We will, as Ella has done, embrace life as we walk the path before us.