Friday, May 13, 2005

A Baby Forever

I have four children whom I love very much. As they grow older and I struggle to maintain my authority and keep their respect, I continue to think of what wonderful babies they all were. The youngest, who is now 2 1/2, is still a baby in many ways; yet, she also acts very grown up much of the time. Soon she won't be a baby anymore, and then all I will have are the memories of the times we spent together, when she needed me to feed her, bathe her, dress her, play with her, and -- best of all -- cuddle with her. It is already like that for me with her older siblings.

Suppose that your baby could stay tiny and helpless, still a baby, for year and years, never growing up. That is the case with a little girl in Baltimore, who is twelve years old but is physically and mentally still a baby.

Imagine being frozen in time as a baby forever. It sounds impossible, but it describes Brooke Greenberg.

The Baltimore-area girl may look like a baby, but she's nearly a teenager. In most respects, Brooke looks and acts like your average 6-month-old baby -- she weighs 13 pounds and she is 27 inches long.

But Brooke is actually 12 years old, reported WBAL-TV in Baltimore.

Brooke doesn't age. Her syndrome remains undiagnosed and unnamed, and as far as doctors can tell, she is the only one in the world who has it.

I have visited cemeteries where grave markers of deceased infants bore the legend "A BABY FOREVER". How wonderful it is to see an instance where those words mean life and not death.

Her body may not be aging, but Brooke's health is deteriorating. She is fed through a tube, and she's had strokes, seizures, ulcers, severe respiratory problems and a tumor the size of a lemon.

The four times Brooke has come dangerously close to death, she bounced back and no one knows why.

Any caring parent can tell you that a child is a blessing, no matter what. Brooke is blessed as well as a blessing. How can she have so many problems, yet still keep going on? That is a true mystery. I once spoke with a doctor who could not explain, several years ago, why my father lived three years after his heart had weakened to the point where he should have been dead. The doctor had a one-word answer for my father's continued survival past the point where medical science could sustain him: God.

[Brooke's Pediatrician Dr. Laurence] Pakula points out that the girl has a strong sense of self and of sibling rivalry. Brooke has no language skills, but she does have enough motor skills to pull herself up in her crib or scoot across the kitchen floor.

Pakula said Brooke has thrived because of the support of her parents and three sisters."When one sees how much she has accomplished, it's a wonderful reminder that even for someone who's limited, it's a wonderful world out there," Pakula said.

Human love, the love of family, also has a lot to do with it. There's no telling how long Brooke will live, but you can guarantee that she will always be loved. As my children grow older, no matter how big they get, I will keep on loving them as much as I did when they were beautiful, helpless, dependent little newborn infants.

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: All of the TV station news links appear to have expired overnight. Sorry about that. Please see Blogger News Network for more on Brooke.

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