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Why I Love Shiny Balloons

by Julie Keon on June 7th, 2014

We waited a long time for Meredith to grace us with her smile. I know that many parents have waited longer or are still waiting for that first demonstration of happiness. In July of 2004, when Meredith was just 8 months old, I went to her crib early one morning and through my bleary eyes, I thought I noticed a slight upward curve of the corner of her mouth when I spoke to her. I kept talking with her as I held her in the sun room and then I knew for certain that she was grinning or at least trying to grin.
It wasn’t until August of 2004 when we were staying at the local children’s hospital undergoing more tests that we finally got a smile. We spent 8 months in that first year in the hospital and on one particular day, we bought Meredith a mylar balloon from the hospital gift shop and tied it to the rungs of her crib. When she awoke from her nap, her eyes were immediately drawn to the metallic sheen of the balloon. And then it happened. She smiled! We caught it all on video and so actual still shots of this moment are lacking. Here she is when she first spotted it:


She sees a large shiny object hovering over her………..


And there it was………her first gummy smile which grew even bigger than this shot reveals. This pic was taken a few hours later. Still staring at that glorious balloon.

Last Thursday we visited the same children’s hospital for an appointment with Meredith’s gastro-enterologist. Since starting the seizure medication in December, all of our lives have improved tremendously. It’s as though we have wandered, after ten years, out of a very dark forest into a clearing filled with  sunshine. Meredith has gained weight (finally!!), sleeps at night and we see even more of her personality coming through. She even tolerated the 240km drive to Ottawa and back in her car seat with nothing more than a peep out of her. Then she sat in her wheelchair for the duration of our time there aside from a brief examination by her doctor. There was such happiness in her doctor as she observed how stable and well Meredith looked. The doctor was so pleased with her weight gain that she even recommended we reduce the volume of formula she receives per day. Nothing short of extraordinary. We never could have imagined life stabilizing as it has.
After the appointment we went straight to the gift shop and bought a beautiful mylar butterfly balloon. Our girl deserved a treat and I know how much she loves a shiny balloon. As we exited the hospital with the balloon tied to her wheelchair, I reflected on how far we have come. Smiles come easily now and if you work hard enough, she will even give you a laugh. And for this reason alone, mylar balloons will always make me smile, too. 🙂

On our way home from an uplifting doctor’s app’t! Our girl enjoying her balloon.

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  1. Meredith permalink

    Katie’s first real smile and squeals of enjoyment happened on 4E as a result of a shiny balloon too! More than tolerating the return trip to CHEO is wonderful news…perhaps a visit to Burnstown could be in your future..our door is always open!

  2. Melissa permalink

    Hi Julie,
    As a new mom, it breaks my heart that you weren’t able to capture that perfect still picture of Meredith’s first smile that you could frame and hang on a wall to see every day, which is what prompted me to respond to your post. If you have a smart phone there are free apps you can download though, that allow you to capture a picture of that perfect smile from the video you took of Meredith. I have done this myself to capture that perfect “gummy” smile that melts every mother’s heart. The app I used is called Video Freeze. I would be honored to help you get that perfect picture. Just let me know. 🙂
    A new mommy

  3. Lana permalink

    Those images of Meredith as a baby just about make my heart burst. And now she’s ten!!! Her smile slays me every time I see it- even now when it comes so much more easily. I LOVE MYLAR BALLOONS TOO!!!

  4. donna keon permalink

    Oh my God! How cute and still so cute today

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