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MLB player's love for son unbounded

Reed's love for son unbounded.

06/17/01

Fathers have a secret. Father's Day is named in their honor. But for them, it's another chance to celebrate their children's birthdays.

Steve Reed figured that out when his first son, Dylan, was born in 1994, then confirmed it beyond all doubt when his second son, Logan, entered his life three years later. Reed would come home from games in Colorado and see Logan struggling to breathe, oxygen tubes taped to his face so he wouldn't dislodge them. Logan was born with achondroplasia, a condition that affects one in about 25,000 newborns. In lay terms, it's dwarfism.

Logan slept at night hooked up to an alarm. He wore a back brace. He had pneumonia, obstructive apnea, a respiratory virus, a stressed heart. And a smile, almost always a smile.

People born with achondroplasia are said to possess a "happy gene." Whether science can identify it doesn't matter to the Reeds. You don't need proof of what you see every day, come rain, shine, surgery or social insensitivity.

Logan spent three months in the hospital during the first two years of his life. He didn't walk until he was 2½. Twice, Steve and Terry Reed dialed 911.

"We almost lost him on the operating table a few times," Reed said. "At one point, he was in ICU for about 10 days. I was playing for the Rockies at the time. So people knew me in the ICU lobby. There were about 10-15 kids in there. Logan had the least of the problems. There was a 2-week-old getting open-heart surgery. Can you imagine a 2-week-old?"

"I learned that as heavy and as big as Logan's problems were, they were not even close to what other families were dealing with. I'd always been a big-time competitor. To the point of being overcompetitive. I can't believe how blind I was to real life. Without Logan, I might have been blind to that my whole life."

Logan was born Sept. 27, 1996. By then, Terry Reed, a former radio reporter, had done extensive research, although doctors could not say from her ultrasound that her baby's disproportionate arms and legs confirmed achondroplasia. In the six weeks of anguish and uncertainty leading to Logan's birth, Steve Reed had nightmares. When he finally saw his new baby, he felt instant relief and joy.

"I still remember it like it was yesterday," Reed said this week, sitting at his locker at Jacobs Field. "He looked great."

Reed brings his boys into the clubhouse when the Indians are playing at home on weekend day games. Friday, he drove them and his wife to Pittsburgh, where the Indians conclude interleague play today, Father's Day.

In their research and in their connection with Little People of America, the Reeds came across an alarming statistic about families of children born with achondroplasia. A high rate of divorce.

"You see a lot of single mothers in the meetings we've gone to," Terry Reed said. "I don't know if there's a sense of failure or what. But if that's the case, they haven't given themselves a chance to see what they've missed.

"I don't want people to think this is a negative at all. Logan is such a blessing. He's changed my life. He's changed Steve's life. Steve has been my rock. A mom's job is to make life easy for her kids. A dad's job is to help them face challenges. From the beginning, Steve has said, Logan is who he is. I wouldn't want him any other way.' "

Doctors told the Reeds that Logan could expect a normal life expectancy and would have a normal intellect. The family knew there could be serious medical issues associated with achondroplasia, but those have lessened significantly. He's had no major medical issues for more than a year now. Part of that, Terry Reed believes, is the move to Cleveland helped Logan's breathing problems. Away from the thinner air of Colorado, he didn't have to fight as hard to get oxygen.

What the Reeds knew for sure was there would be serious social issues beyond people staring at their son. Logan Reed is getting to the age where he'll soon be asking questions. Steve Reed sees the germs of them in his 4-year-old son's mind. They will start in the usual way: Why? But they'll be more specific. Why am I different? Reed knows the questions will come long before Logan is old enough to pronounce "achondroplasia." In preschool, Terry Reed has already heard a child of Logan's age tell him that he doesn't like "babies." Once, a few older children followed him around, pointing and making comments.

"Kids can be brutal," Steve Reed said. "Parents can be brutal. There is going to be a lot of uncomfortableness. Terry and I have been together 15 years and married for 10. We're best friends. We've talked about it. We're just going to be upfront about it with him.

"It's difficult for me to watch it. I've worried about his brother, how he's dealing with it. But God gave us Dylan for a reason, too. He's so compassionate. When he runs down the street with other kids, he turns and waits for Logan to catch up. It's brought us all closer together."

Steve Reed might have a bad inning today out of the bullpen. Whatever, he'll dress, gather his family and drive back to Cleveland. He'll hear "Happy Father's Day" in stereo, and it will be music to his ears.

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