About Me

My photo
Davison, MI, United States
I am a middle child,born to middleclass parents.Two older brothers,one younger sister.I am married,and have 3 children, Elizabeth who is married and has 3 little boys. She is lucky enough to be able to stay home with them. Her husband, Alan is a Dr. of Physical Therapy. Jonathan who is single and has just finished college and is still trying to figure out life. Katherine, who had a brain tumor and died at the age of 11, 18 years ago.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Our Katherine

This was her favorite picture.
She thought she looked
sophisticated. She also
liked the fact that her hair
was getting long.

Today she would have have turned 30 years old. My baby wanted to be an archaeologist.
She also would have gotten a kick out of the fact that it was also Easter.

Katherine Victoria Porter was born April 8, and didn't want to wait for Dr. Heitsch to get there. He came rushing back from his home tearing off his coat, gowned up and just in time caught her as she came rushing out to meet the world. We never knew exactly how much she weighed. The nurses aide had never helped deliver a baby and didn't know how to use the scales. She recorded weight that was 2 pounds heavier than the nursery nurses recorded. The delivery nurse was already to deliver the baby when the doctor arrived.

She started out life quite differently than most babies. I knew almost immediately that something wasn't right. Right after we brought her home, I was holding her and there was something about her color and her eyes that told me that something was wrong. My mother told me that I was lucky to have two children that were bright and that Katherine was maybe just average.

Katherine was a normal acting baby until about four months. Then all of a sudden, she went from a cooing, smiling baby to a baby that had no personality. She cried when she nursed. I could sit her up on the sofa and she wouldn't move. She gained a tremendous amount of weight, and was wearing 18 month sizes in order to fit her chest. The pediatrician we started with, thought that I was feeding her too much. He was not thrilled that I was a nursing mother right from the start. I belonged to the La Leche League and I think he felt threatened. By 5 months she was hardly nursing. We didn't realize it at the time but she was born with a tumor on her left adrenal gland. By the time I found a doctor that would listen to me, the tumor had become cancerous.

I found another pediatrician who saved her life- Dr Shah. He knew as soon as he saw her that there was something terribly wrong. He called Mott Children's Hospital and got us in as quickly as possible. Her blood pressure was three times higher than it should have been. They admitted her and spent about a week, running tests. She was finally diagnosed with Cushing Syndrome. She was the youngest patient they had ever seen with it. The next youngest was twelve years old. Katherine was 9 months old and had surgery to remove her left adrenal gland and a tumor the size of a large baseball. She didn't need further treatment because the tumor was encapsulated.

 Because her cortisone level was so high, she had to be weaned off of it and it took about two years to do that. As a result, she developed extreme upper body strength.
She climbed this tree in our backyard.
We could hear her calling from the house.
She didn't know how to get down.

She figured out how to climb this tree.
This time there were adults around to
help her get down.
She lived life full out. I know that over the years I have started to remember stories in ways that probably aren't exactly the way they happened. Katherine was not an angel, but she was special. 

She was grubby a lot. She didn't like to take a bath. She was sweaty and was more of a tomboy, than a girl.
She loved Disney World and wanted to
go back so much. She was never healthy
enough again to return to the Magic Kingdom.
We enrolled both Katherine and Jon in Montessori when she wasn't quite two. She was the youngest student that they had ever allowed to enroll. Mrs. Brown told us later, that she was a perfect model of what a Montessori Student should be. She was soon answering the phone, if they didn't catch her first, answering "Davison Montessori, may I ask who is calling?" She knew every students coat, boots, hat and could tell them that their parent had just pulled into the parking lot, because she recognized everyone's car.

She was very bright. When I was using flash cards to help Jonathan learn his times tables, she would shout out the answer. I would have to tell her that it was Jon's turn to give the answer or she would never have given him a chance.

This is her classroom with Mrs. Sproule.She progressed so rapidly at Montessori that she graduated from kindergarten but was actually in first grade. At that point, she went to public school and then she had difficulty with socializing with the girls in her class. Most of the other girls at school were not close friends, partly because she was a year younger, except Katie R. They just clicked with each other. It was as if they were kindred souls. 
She also found herself attracted to the underdogs in school. You know, the kids that were different. She was in a gifted classroom and that is saying a lot when she was attracted to the kids that were different. Think in terms of The Big Bang Theory- the elementary years on TV.

She made friends everywhere. I would go into the grocery store with the kids in tow and an adult would walk by and say, "Hello Katherine." I would have no idea who they were but they knew Katherine. We went on vacation and stopped at at rest area in Kentucky, and someone came up and again said "Hello Katherine." It wasn't the only time when we were out of state that someone who knew her would speak up. We usually had no idea who they were. She just attracted people to her.

She had a erasable pad that she would use during church. She usually collected autographs but when she ran out of room, she would just erase it and start all over again. She dressed up like Queen Victoria to give a report at school for a project. She loved the idea that she could look like a Queen that was an eccentric, strong woman. She also dressed up like a pin cushion for Halloween. You know,the tomato pin cushion with the strawberry that hung off to the side. These were her ideas.

Katherine lived her life well and quickly. She lived 11 years and 1 month. I am not going to tell the rest of her story today. Because this is her birthday. It is a happy time to remember. 

I think if she were here today, she would have gotten her advanced degree in Archaeology, traveled the world, possibly run for public office and caused an uproar whenever she got the chance. 

Happy birthday Katherine. I love you. I miss you every day. I know you are regularly meeting with the great minds of the world, trying to come up with solutions to the worlds problems and have a standing appointment with God to give Him your opinion about something new that you have thought of. I also know that you have long talks with your grandparents and other relatives regularly. I am also pretty sure that you are standing right inside the gates to help the children and the babies that need someone to show them the ropes.
This is how I like to remember her; trying to keep up with her
sister and her brother, grubby, sweaty, and enjoying everything
around her.


Shelly said...

What a moving, lovely tribute. She was beautiful. Happy birthday, Katherine! And Happy, blessed Easter to you.

Jill said...

Thank you. Happy Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Jill said...

I want to thank everyone that read this post and sent me a facebook message or commented on the post. It means a lot that you remember her or that you would have wanted to get to know her.

Kris said...

Thank you for sharing your story of your beautiful baby girl :) I love reading about these areas of your life!

momto8 said...

what a story and lesson. I am so sorry. Happy birthday to her! You could write a book about your experiences.
I am your newest follow.pls follow back if you can.

Jill said...

Thank you so much momto8. Her story is so much more and an emotional ride that I have to take in small steps at this point, even after all this time. But her story will continue to be told.

I am now following you. Thanks.

Crack You Whip said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your daughter...

Jill said...

Crack You Whip, I don't think I responded to you but I want you to know how much I appreciate your comments.

Jill said...

Kris I appear to have ignored you. Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing.I love to tell stories.