A simple coo. A toothless grin. A baby who’s happy and healthy.
These are the moments parents dream about. But so easily they can be clouded by life-changing complications.
Earlier this week, television host Jimmy Kimmel made a heartfelt, personal plea urging for funding for the National Institutes of Health after his baby was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. He shared the news in an emotional opening monologue for his late-night show.
"If your baby's going to die and doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make,” Kimmel said. “I think that's something, that whether you're a Republican or Democrat, or something else, we all agree on that, right?”
Miles away in Georgia – that impassioned plea hit close to home.
Ashley and Chris Brown never thought something so serious and rare would impact their little family.
“It can’t happen to us,” Ashley thought. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
But just two months after birth, Ashley and Chris’ newborn baby Meredith was yellow and underweight. Her parents just knew something was wrong: “When she's not smiling something's up," Ashley said. “We didn't see her smile from the Saturday before Easter until about two days ago."
They soon learned that their little girl had biliary atresia, which meant that her liver wasn’t capable of draining bile. Essentially, her own body was poisoning her.
Photos: The Brown family
Inside Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, Ashley, Chris and their 2-year-old daughter Grace have watched Meredith undergo hours of surgery.
"It's hard to turn over your little girl when they say it's time to go, but they've done a fantastic job and she's getting better every day," Chris said.
Making the hardship a little easier, Chris told 11Alive that all around them are parents dealing with their own struggles, but they lean on each other for support and put their faith in amazing doctors and nurses. And they always celebrate the victories, no matter how small.
"You pray for their children, you pray for their health, you pray for their recovery,” he said, “and they're praying for Meredith and her recovery."
Right now, Meredith’s future is unknown, but she’ll likely have to receive a liver transplant.
“They'll have to watch her liver and test those levels for the rest of her life," Chris told 11Alive.
But for now, the family said they’re living in the moment and treating each day like a gift.
"Just seeing her light up was just reassurance that she's going to be okay, she's getting better finally," Ashley said.
The Browns are selling t-shirts to help raise awareness and money to fight this rare disease.