My daughter Emma was born with a condition called hydrocephalus.

In short, the fluid that surrounds her brain doesn’t drain like it does for most people. At birth, her head was engorged with the excess cerebrospinal fluid that had not drained while she was in utero.

Emma at Birth

Two days after birth, Emma had brain surgery.

The neurosurgeon installed a shunt to drain the fluid from her head into her abdomen.

Her head shrank drastically – her bony skull reminded me of a dinosaur, and I affectionately began calling her Emmasaurus.

Emma at Birth

What does this mean for Emma?

Short term, it means delays. At 17 months of age, she still does not crawl, or walk, or have a whole lot of motivation to do anything other than lay down and chew on a teether.

Long term, we have no idea. The doctors worry that she may reach an upper limit on ability. She may progress to a third grade level and then never move past that.

Either way, it’s scary as hell.

Emma on Couch

It is very easy to get caught up in what Emma can’t do.

But this is all about what she can. Just months ago, she could not see at all – her pediatrician thought she may never be able to do so. And now she grabs my face when I sit in front of her. This is about using tiny victories to celebrate Emma and to assure myself, and the rest of the world, that she can do anything and exceed our highest expectations.

Emma Can.

Emma Can