By peoplestaff225
Updated June 10, 2009 08:00 AM
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For the first month of Riley Dempster‘s life, her dad — Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster — was with her just five days. Not only was the new dad suffering through a prolonged absence from his family as he traveled with his team, he was also dealing with the added stress of Riley’s diagnosis with DiGeorge Syndrome. Born without the ability to swallow and digest food, Riley — now 10 weeks — has undergone numerous procedures to correct the condition. “Has it been rough? Yes, it’s been rougher than anything I can imagine,” Ryan, who also has a toddler son named Brady with wife Jenny, admits in a new interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Riley currently has a feeding tube in place as she continues to undergo treatment, which involves having her glands injected with a drug that stops the production of excess secretions. “Right now she has to be suctioned, in 24-hour care,” Ryan, 32, shares. “Even when we get her home, we’re going to have nurses 24 hours a day. But it’ll be nice to have her home to see her. You don’t have to go to the hospital, and it’ll be nice for Brady to have his sister home.”

Despite the obstacles Riley will need to overcome, the Dempsters consider themselves lucky. A neonatologist in Arizona suggested that Jenny’s preterm labor was brought on by polyhydramnios, leading doctors to order a DNA test which revealed the existence of the condition. “Some kids’ parents don’t find out till they’re two years old, and they’re making up for lost ground, whereas with us, we can take the early steps to help do whatever we can for Riley’s future,” Ryan notes. “By the time she is two, hopefully she’s as normal as any other kid.”

If all goes well, Riley should be home with her family by June 22nd.

Thanks to CBB reader Colleen.

— Missy