By Kate MacHugh
There is a saying that every child is a miracle. My sister, Makenzie, is a miracle in the purest sense of the word. Makenzie's birth mother found out that she was pregnant and decided to terminate her pregnancy. She did not have enough money for the abortion so she attempted to self-abort. Makenzie came in to this world weighing only 1 lb 4 oz. She was a micro-preemie and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and was microsphalic.
Makenzie has a shunt in her brain which takes fluid from her brain and drains it in to her stomach. She was placed in foster care until she came in to our lives at age 2 and a half. We were told she would never sit up, talk, or walk. She would essentially be "total-care" her entire life. She could say "mama" "ba-ba" and "da-da." She could army crawl across the floor and hold a bottle to her mouth, but not much more. We knew that it would be a long road ahead to care for her but we loved her immensely and immediately.
One night not long after Makenzie came to us,my mother had a dream she was bathing her grandmother who had passed away. Her Gummy told her that Makenzie's middle name should be "Pearl." A pearl, she said, was something that started out as an irritant, a piece of sand that got stuck inside an oyster but became something beautiful.
We adopted Makenzie Pearl MacHugh on National Adoption Day, November 23, 2007. Makenzie is now ten. She talks in full sentences, walks with out a walker, and loves playing outside and make believe. She is truly a miracle.
In June 2013, we almost lost that miracle.
Makenzie had a shunt failure and was rushed to St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia for emergency brain surgery. I will never forget being in the hospital with my mom while she sobbed, terrified that Makenzie would not survive the surgery, and being afraid of the same myself. At 4:00 in the morning she was taken in to surgery. They shaved half of her head and cut open her skull to repair her shunt. We sobbed tears of joy when she was wheeled back to us groggy, but alive. My mom and I spent the next four days at her bedside until she was allowed to return home.
Six weeks later, we were faced with the same horror. She would need a second emergency surgery because the shunt had a nick in the catheter. We came so close to losing Makenzie twice that I realized I could never bear to do so. She is an incredible child and a wonderful human being. She has so much determination, resilience, and fight in her. She has been faced with the task of learning how to walk with legs that do not work, speak with a mind that does not process correctly, and live a life with a disability because of her birth mother's selfishness. Makenzie survived her own abortion and shown the world how valuable a human life truly is.