Noah Walker was born on October 1, 2010 after a great and uneventful pregnancy. We'll never forget that first, loud cry as he entered the world, nor the nurse calling out his weight - a whopping 9 lbs 9 ozs! He was our happy, healthy, bouncing (big) little baby boy and we couldn't have been happier. Our stay at the hospital was uneventful relative to other new births and we made the slow car-ride home a couple of days later right on schedule. Everything was right in the world as we celebrated Noah's birth with family, friends and each other.
We noticed early on - when Noah was about 6 weeks old - that he seemed to be favoring the left side of his body. He seemed to turn his head to the left side and he really only brought his left hand to his mouth. We started joking that he would be a lefty...perhaps the missing piece of the Red Sox bullpen. He did move his right arm some and being first parents, we didn't think anything was too unusual. At his 2 month pediatrician check-up we brought up the fact that he seemed to be "left dominant." She did a quick exam and didn't seem to be too concerned. She told us to keep an eye on it and off we went. We both felt reassured after that appointment and almost silly for worrying about it.
As Noah began to grow and started developing, it became clear that something wasn't right. He started reaching for objects and we noticed that he would only reach for things with his left hand. If a toy was easier for him to reach with his right hand he would still reach across his body with his left to grab it. He often kept is right hand clenched in a fist - particularly when engaging in an activity. We just figured the right would eventually catch up, but it never seemed to. At his 4 month pediatrician appointment we brought it up again. Again she did an exam and she thought everything looked fine. She told us we could contact Early Intervention to get an evaluation and she would refer us to a neurologist if we liked. We thought it would be a good idea, just to get everything "checked out."
Finally on March 1st - Noah's 5 month birthday - we were able to see the neurologist. She examined Noah and agreed with us that something was wrong. She insisted that we schedule an MRI for Noah in order to "rule out a perinatal insult or stroke". In the back of our minds, we had always worried that Noah might have a serious issue, but it was surreal to hear those words out loud.
One month later, on the morning of April 1st, our alarms went off at 5:30am. The ground was covered with 2inches of snow as we scrambled around getting ready to take Noah to Children’s Hospital for his MRI. We were terrified and as usual, Noah was happy and smiling all along the way. We got through the MRI – Noah was a trooper – and were told to call our neurologist later that day as she should have the results that afternoon. It would be the longest 6 hours of our lives. A little after 3pm on April 1st, 2011 the neurologist called – she was hesitant to relay the results over the phone, but ultimately accommodated our pleads – and our perfect, happy, healthy baby-boy Noah was officially diagnosed with having had a pediatric stroke.
It has been a long year for us after receiving Noah's diaganosis but we're happy to say we are all in a good place. Noah is 19 months old now and amazing us everyday. He currently has physical therapy twice a week, occupational therapy twice a week, and another therapy session once a month at Children's hospital. With all of these therapies plus the work we do with him everyday he has made amazing strides. He gets around now by "butt scooting" but has just started pulling up to standing. He was just fitted for his first leg brace and we're hopefull he will be off and running soon!
For our "streak" this year Susan will be doing the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday, May 27th and raising money for the Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA). All the money raised will go directly to CHASA to help other little children with similiar needs to Noah. This organziation has been a tremendous resource and place of support and comfort for us in the past year and we hope you will help us in our "streaking" efforts this month. Much love-Susan, Brad and Noah