F. Scott Fitzgerald Award winner Joyce Carol Oates perfectly captured the anxieties of parenthood in her story “In the Insomniac Night.”
She wrote, “Only after the labor of birth, only after you’ve come home to your own private quarters bearing the precious gift of your baby, only then in the abrupt quiet and solitude of ceiling, walls, floor does the realization pierce you like a knife blade I am responsible for keeping it alive.”
Those words might sound a little dramatic, but it’s not far from the truth. As Ross Allen and Freya Hall of Bath, England, know, remaining vigilant about your children sometimes means the difference between life and death.
When Allen and Hall’s daughter Harmonie-Rose was only 9 months old, she woke up in the middle of the night with labored breathing.
Her parents promptly took her to the hospital, but physicians said they couldn’t find anything wrong.
They went back a second time when the baby began having convulsions and were told to go home yet again.
But Allen and Hall persisted when Harmonie-Rose’s energy dipped and she developed an odd rash on her nose.
It was good that they did: It turned out that the little girl had contracted meningococcal septicaemia — a rare form of meningitis.
All the same, the illness almost cost Harmonie-Rose her life. Her skin shaded black, a complication from the infection, and doctors only gave her a 10 percent chance of survival.
“It was the scariest moment of my life,” Allen told the BBC. “I really didn’t think she would survive the first night.”
But Harmonie-Rose did survive, albeit at a terrible cost. To ensure her survival, doctors partially amputated all four of her limbs.
Despite that, though, she’s thriving today. A charitable campaign raised over £240,000 (around $330,000) for her support, some of which her parents used to buy prosthetic legs covered with unicorns because (in Harmonie’s words) “they are magic and will help me walk.”
She was also given an American Girl doll named Rebecca, although this particular model is unique: It has four prosthetic limbs.
“She just said, ‘Mummy, she’s just like me,’” Hall told ABC News. “She loves to take the arms and the legs off, and they love to sit next to each other without the prosthetics on.”
The little girl also got to enjoy the winter weather recently. Her parents fit her with special non-slip pads for her limbs and let her loose on an ice rink in Somerset.
Harmonie-Rose shows that hard work, loving care, and an excellent attitude can make almost anyone more than a survivor: In her case, she’s a thriver.
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