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USA, 2001

Vincent was born on August 17, 2001, in Denver, Colorado. He weighed 7 pounds and measured 20 inches. Mom’s pregnancy, which included three ultrasounds, was normal. So was the birth. Vincent’s APGAR scores were high, and the doctor proclaimed him “perfect” in response to mom’s question, “Does he look OK?”

None of the doctors or nurses in a neonatal unit that ranks among the busiest in the Western United States said anything of Vincent’s peculiar cry. Mom and dad noticed it immediately; it sounded just like a kitten. But for the first several days of Vincent’s life, his cry was a source of curiosity more than concern.

In comparison to his two older brothers, Vincent as a newborn was content and a sound sleeper. But unlike his older brothers, Vincent was not a good eater. He lost nearly a full pound during the first week of his life. The paediatrician mentioned the possibility of screening Vincent for “syndromes” if his feeding problems persisted. Mom, generally disinclined to wait around, began to research syndromes on the internet. She ran “kitten cry” through one of the major search engines, and broke down in tears as hit after hit described Cri du Chat Syndrome and its unmistakable, “diagnostic” cat-like cry. The diagnosis was confirmed on September 5, 2001, by a high-resolution chromosome scan.

The syndrome does not define the child. Vincent is, first and foremost, a fully integrated member of our family. He is loved and adored by his mom and dad, his brothers Brady (5) and Ryan (2), and a veritable bevy of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Among family and friends, Vincent stands out not because of a syndrome, but because of his dimpled grin and heart-melting giggle.

At eight months, Vincent is just now beginning to roll from front to back on his own — sometimes he still needs a little nudge. He could probably do as well rolling from back to front, but he does not like spending time on his stomach. “Tummy time” is therefore an important component of his physical therapy. He is also beginning to reach for his toys and hold them for several minutes at a time. Vincent is close to sitting up on his own, but still requires some support. His “baby talk” is limited to vowel sounds, although we’ve heard a few “m’s” along the way.

Vincent smiled at four months and giggled at five months. He began taking baby cereal between five and six months. He was able to stand in his exer-saucer at six months.