Saturday is my daughter's 11th birthday. She'll be camping with her dad at a special Girl Scouts camping weekend, so we are going to celebrate it as a family when they get back. I'm sure she'll want breakfast for dinner and chocolate cake or maybe frozen yogurt at a specialty shop.
Next week eleven years ago a doctor looked into my tear swollen eyes and said, "Take her home and love her as long as you have her."
That. We have done.
Quinnlin was diagnosed at two days old with ARPKD (autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease) and at the time there was little hope given for babies born with this disease. Many doctors thought all children with it died at birth or shortly after birth. In fact statistic say that 70% babies born with it survive.
I remember there was a statistic at the time that said if babies with ARPKD made it to their first year they had a good chance to survive until they received a kidney transplant (by age 10 most kids would have them). So, that first birthday was an important one. And well, her 8th birthday was a big one too, as it was the day of her kidney transplant.
The birthday milestones are great, but not so important as the everyday milestones. Looking at me in the eyes (3 months). Lifting her head (8 months). Sitting up (13 months). Pulling up to stand (20-some months). Walking independently (3 years). She jumped on two feet at age six, and so on.
To me, it's not even that she did those things at a certain age (although all of her therapists thought differently), it's that she did them at all.
So we'll celebrate my girl's birthday like we always do and we'll talk about we can't believe she's almost a teenager. Later that night when our house is quiet, I'll be thinking about how lucky I am that she is here and I can witness her milestones of living.
Julia Roberts blogs at Kidneys and Eyes and is site co-founder at Support for Special Needs.