CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Alicia Cockerline wrote from inside the hospital.
"Lots of downtime here," she said. "My daughter Brooke and I hang out at Levine Children's Hospital and read the updates on #MollysKids. I love the stories. In the middle of reading one the other day I suddenly thought, 'Why not tell you about my incredible little girl?'"
Brooke is 7 years old. She's from Lincolnton. She has cCMV.
At first I thought that was a typo. It's not. The little "c" stands for congenital. CMV stands for cytomegalovirus.
CMV is kind of a crazy deal. It's a child's virus. Many of us have probably come down with it before. The problem becomes when pregnant women get it. That's what happened to Alicia. She was working at a daycare and doctors tell her she probably picked it up from there. (Sidebar: Best way to prevent CMV is to wash your hands and not eat or drink after kids.)
If you get CMV when pregnant you can pass it on to your child. Brook says she knew around 17-20 weeks she had passed it to Brooke. Doctors told her and her husband Jason that it would cause problems.
"Doctors urged us to terminate our pregnancy," Alicia told me. "No way. We didn't consider it. She's a blessing to us, not a burden."
Even though many people can test positive for CMV, it's when a pregnant woman passes it on to the baby it causes real issues.
In Brooke's case, her brain stopped developing which caused mental and physical disabilities. Her last few years in particular have been rough with surgeries, a feeding tube and unpredictable seizures.
"But she's a happy girl," said Alicia. "That's what we tell everyone. She just really is 'a happy girl'. We take her everywhere. She loves the water and ocean. She goes crazy over football. Her 8-year-old brother Nathan loves soccer and the happiest we see her is when she's at his games."
Alicia says cCMV affects more kids than Down Syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome but doesn't have as much awareness. I'd never heard of it before she reached out.
Here's to learning. (And spreading? Feel free to share!) And, to a mother sitting in a hospital and instead of feeling sorry for herself and her daughter, wanting to read all about other kids facing uphill medical battles and cheer them on.
Consider that solid Friday morning inspiration.