I called home from work yesterday and talked to my husband Bill. I needed some computer information. As I talked to him I noted an odd note in his voice, like he was deigning to talk about some insignificant topic while in reality he was off in Mount Olympus or Valhalla or Paradise. In the background I could hear these very sweet little cooing noises.
"Is Owen there?" I asked.
"Yes, and you wouldn't believe how he's grown since the last time we saw him."
The last time we saw him was a week and a half ago. Last weekend, Reetie and Em took all three kids to the beach. Walter and Carrie joined them. Emily had come back and reported that Owen had changed, that he was calm all the time and hardly cried at all.
Now he was cooing from his granddad's arms. It wasn't the first time I had heard him coo, but I was pleased by Bill's words because they went along with Em's report from the weekend.
Later, Emily called me at work to say she was going to pick me up instead of me walking home. She'd been asked to bring me home sooner, so I could see Reetie and the kids before they left.
Ruth was playing on the computer when I arrived. Wade saw me and ran behind a couch to hide. "Where's Wade?" I asked as I entered the living room, and he popped out of his hiding place saying, "Here I am, I was hiding from you, Grandmom!" and laughing like he had put a good one over on me.
Owen was lying on his back kicking and cooing. I called to him and as soon as he heard my voice he looked at me, then broke into a big smile. I played with him, picked him up, dandled him. He didn't show signs of sensitivity to environment as before. He was engaged and interactive. He looked and acted for all intents and purposes exactly like a four month old baby in the pink of health.
I was having fun enjoying an exceptionally lively time with him. I thought I had lucked out, like Bill that morning. But the minutes rolled by, and he continued smiling and cooing, waving his arms around, responding while we did the sort of silly things grownups do to delight babies.
Reetie was watching me.
I said, "He seems different."
"I know, Mom, I know."
"Is he still keeping you up at night?"
"He's sleeping five or six hours at a time."
"He seems so... I don't know... he seems completely normal."
"I know, Mom, I know!" Reetie started chuckling, in wonder. She was obviously delighted that I was noticing a change she had deliberately not said a word to me about. Glad to see my puzzlement. Her "I knows" were full of happy puzzlement, like what the heck is going on here?
There was no telling myself I was imagining things, no exaggerating his progress. He was indistinguishable from any other baby. Continually alert in a way he had been sporadically alert before. Completely engaged with his environment instead of engaging when we coaxed him out of himself. Babbling, imitating us, reaching out to grab, in general behaving exactly like a four month old.
I wanted to run out and do an MRI, call the Daughters of St. Paul and have them get a doctor who was looking to certify a miracle for Fr. Alberione. Or Pope John Paul II. Bill said, "You can't do an MRI for no reason." Reetie said, "This is still consistent with what they said might happen, best case scenario, that he might show normal development in the early months."
But she told me what the CHOP doctor who came to the house with the NPR crew for the interview said.
"I won't lie to you," he said. "This baby is doing very, very well. By this age we could be seeing signs of rigidity that go with a brain injury, we could be seeing spasticity. I don't see anything like that. His hamstrings are a little tight, but that could just be a matter of some physical therapy."
She also said, laughing with that happy puzzlement, "Do whatever you want, Mom. Call those people if you want."
What is going on in that tiny little brain? Will it continue? We are in the middle of a suspense story, and I am eager to see what plot turn will happen next.
Thank you, Lord, for Owen's progress. Thank you for Your kindness to his parents, to Owen himself, and to all of us.
Today was a remarkable day.