At birth, the infant must endure immediate surgery to place the organs back inside the abdomen. Aside from being bathed in uric acid while inside the womb, once born, the organs are exposed to the air and subject to drying out and further bacterial infection.
More severe is an omphalocele, mostly occurring in males, in which a larger opening is present in the abdominal wall. Treatment generally consists of placing a silo around the organs and utilizing pressure over a period of days to weeks to coax the organs back into position. The literature as to the cause of this birth defect is somewhat weak. The etiology is not fully known. It seems to occur in women under 30. It is not linked to chromosome abnormality or attributed to drug use.
They chose to call her Sophia and when she gazed at me for the first time I recognized a distant familiarity. As though acquainted in some long-ago time and place, we knew one another at once. Repressed by extreme malaise and qualm she lay stoic, a tiny courageous female warrior. She seemed to possess some innate wisdom of her surroundings, her anguish, and the world. Volumes were exchanged between mine and those baby eyes.
Soon, time passed and she healed quite well aside from some periodic abdominal disturbances.
On her tummy, a faint star-shaped scar remained where a belly button should have been. Repeatedly she would point at it and look at those around her for answers.
Unknown she and I were to the origin of her name: the Hagia Sophia, a large basilica in Constantinople, which translated means Holy Wisdom. The imperial capital of the Roman Empire oddly enough would be my home once as a child.
She tenderly spoke in a sweet little voice only a baby could have. Inquisitively, “Nona, where is my belly-button?” she’d ask. Rather than reply with an explanation of the variances in nature or how the surgeon made her tummy all better, I assured her from the depths of my spirit, “Because angels don’t have belly buttons, Sophia.”