Other than being born a little early—at 37 weeks—everything started out fine for Liam Hammond. “He was a healthy baby, it was a healthy birth, and he was progressing and meeting his milestones,” says his mother Jennifer.
But at his 4-month-old check-up, “Something about his head looked different to me.”
Liam’s head circumference was normal, though, and he was in the same head-growth percentile as at his last visit. The pediatrician suggested Jennifer keep watching it.
Two weeks later, the family left for a seaside Memorial Day weekend vacation. “I was pretty sure his head was swelling,” Jennifer says. “No one else could really see it, but the distance from the top of his eyebrow to the top of his head looked wider. By Sunday evening, he was very fussy, and it seemed like the vein down the center of his forehead was more prominent.”
Jennifer and her husband decided to cut their weekend short, leaving Monday morning rather than evening. Jennifer noticed that the fontanelle at the top of Liam’s head—where the bones of his skull had not yet fused together—was no longer soft.
Hours later they arrived at their local hospital, which took a CT scan. “The emergency room doctor came in and looked as white as a ghost,” Jennifer recalls. “She said, ‘Your baby has a mass in his head.’ She had already arranged a transfer.”