A friend of ours had a new baby recently. Namine has been enamored with her.
As Namine gets older, she notices more. She knows that she has needed operations that most do not, and she accepts that difference as merely who she is. It is simply a part of her, nothing more. But every once in a while, she’ll remind me that our normal is not everyone else’s normal.
The other day, Namine was telling me how pretty our friend’s new baby is. Then she asked, “When will she get her trach?”
I was caught off-guard. This seemed like an odd question, but it made perfect sense. Namine knows that she had needed a trach until surgeries and growth had allowed her to be rid of it. What she had assumed, then, was that all babies went through this phase in their lives.
“She doesn’t need a trach,” I said, trying to sound as casual about it as possible.
“Oh,” she said. “Why?”
“Well,” I began, “when you were born, you had a smaller lower jaw. You know that, right?”
“Right,” she said. “That’s why I needed my trach?”
“Yes, because you couldn’t breathe on your own. The trach helped you breathe.”
“And after you had your surgeries — your palate repair to close the hole in the roof of your mouth, and your jaw distraction,” — I saw her feel her distractor scars, touching the slight indent where the pins had entered the bone — “then you were able to get rid of your trach because you could breathe on your own.”
Namine lifted her chin and touched her trach scar. It hurts sometimes, she’s told me, but it was also a reminder to her and to us of how far she had come.
“Okay,” she said. I didn’t know if it was going to be a big deal to her, but it wasn’t. It’s just a part of who she is, and she’s just fine with that.