The Boy With The Designer Belly Button


Dear Diary,

21 years ago yesterday, January 17th, my life changed forever. I became a mom to a very delicate little boy. I didn't even get to see him until the next day. He was on a respirator with tubes and wires sticking out of everywhere. Even though he was red and swollen and not breathing on his own, my mother's instinct, intuition, whatever you want to call it, took over and I knew he'd be ok.

Charlie was born with a birth defect called an Omphalocele. It occurs in 1 of every 4000 births. The mortality rate is fairly high. It's when the infant's intestines, liver, and other organs stick outside the belly through the belly button. The organs are covered in a thin sac. In Charlie's case, his liver was almost too far out to save. He came out just in time. He was also diagnosed with Beckwith-Weidemann Syndrome. It's basically an overgrowth of the body. Babies with an Omphalocele sometimes have this. Charlie was just over 7lbs when he was born...and he was a month early. Plus, his tongue was too big for his mouth. That's another indicator. Here's what he looked like when I first saw him.

When I said his name for the first time, one of those swollen little eyes popped open. It was like a lightning bolt hit my heart.

The long and the short of it is he was in and out of the hospital a lot in his first year, with 3 surgeries under his belt. After 3 years of geneticist visits, he was cleared of having the syndrome and his little man-made belly button was starting to look somewhat like an asterisk. That is how Charlie Cain came into this world. 21 years later...

Charlie, his girlfriend Maia, me, and Javier are driving to Serveall Liquor in Hillcrest at 11:45pm the theme song to Chariots of Fire playing in the background. That's how I celebrated turning 21. My friends drove me to 7-11 to buy beer at the stroke of midnight...theme music playing then, too. So, Charlie thought it would be fun to recreate the moment. Let me tell you, staying up til midnight at this age is no joke!

Here are the ID check and alcohol purchases.

The next day, after sleeping in til 11:30am, omg I can't remember the last time I slept in like that, we celebrated the big day at Claudia's house. She made all of this glorious food and a delicious chocolate cake. She decorated and even had a little picture-taking corner. I wish I was talented in the hostess arena like she is.

We talked and ate and celebrated this excellent human being. He is just the world's best son. I don't even have the words to describe how I feel. I am honored to be his mother. So very honored. And, I am so proud of him. He's now fully on his own. He has been since the age of 19. He's making it work and he's making all the right decisions. I'm amazed at his intelligence and wit. I love him to the ends of the universe.

Just one more thing... Elvis had his first grooming on Friday. He came away a little bit shaky from all the dryers, but look at how handsome he is!!!

Thank you Dirty Dogs and Meow in Hillcrest. You guys did such a good job.

Oh, Elvis just LOVES Charlie.

I'm ending this Diary with the video for Fix You by Coldplay because that's what we did, we fixed Charlie. And a link to my podcast because I will be telling Charlie's whole story on Tuesday night.

See you later, Diary.