Sometimes life throws us a curveball and it can be hard to know how to deal with it. In this series, we’ve been meeting some great kiwi families and in this article, we get to meet the Want Family. I’ll let mum, Pip, tell you their story.
My husband, Andrew, and I have been married for 12 years, and we have 3 children, Jesse who is 5, levi who will be 3 in April, and Holly who is 6 months.
At my 12 week scan with Holly, we found out that she only had one hand. This scan was full of mixed emotions. After being through 4 miscarriages, this first scan with all our pregnancies has been a big deal; seeing that little heartbeat is the most exciting thing. So, with Holly, we could see the little heart beat, and then we were hit with the sonographer saying “I’m sorry but I can only see one hand”.
I burst into tears. My mind automatically went to everything this baby wouldn’t be able to do – how is she going to crawl? how is she going to tie her shoelaces? she won’t be able to learn a musical instrument… Andrew was amazing, he just looked at me and said “we’ve got a heartbeat! that’s awesome!”
Over the next few months, I had moments of feeling sad, mostly when I thought of the potential for bullying, but Andrew kept reminding me that we would deal with any problems if and when they happened, and there was no point in worrying about these things before the baby was even born!
We talked with our boys about it, before she was born. Our oldest son, Jesse, is autistic, so we had to be extra careful to prepare him before she was born, so it didn’t freak him out. Andrew often joked throughout my pregnancy – “poor Levi, not only will he be the middle child, he’ll feel left out for being too ‘normal’ in our family!”. It’s important to have a sense of humour.
We had scans at the hospital every 4 weeks to check that everything else was growing and in proportion. Everything else was perfect, which was fantastic news. We were told that missing/partial limbs often indicated a more serious condition, but there was no evidence of anything else going on.
A lot of the bones in the wrist and hand are still cartilage until well after baby is born, so they couldn’t tell us from the scans, exactly what she had at the end of her arm. So it wasn’t until a scan at about 34 weeks, when she twitched her arm, that we saw she had a wrist.
Having so many scans (apart from making it super hard to stick to my guns about not finding out the sex!), made it normal to us. I got so used to seeing a little arm with no hand on the end, that by the time she was born, it didn’t seem like a big deal at all. I was expecting that I might feel emotional about it once she was born and I saw it properly, but I wasn’t. It actually took us a while to think about looking at it, I was having those first delicious cuddles with her, and suddenly thought, “I suppose we should have a look”!
This made it a little bit tricky to tell people we hadn’t told. We had told our families, and close friends, but there were still lots of people we hadn’t told. I knew it would be a shock to some people, and I didn’t want to have to deal with people trying to hide their reactions when they saw it, so I used good old Facebook. A week or so after we’d posted about Holly being born, I posted photos of her where her snub (our name for her stump) was visible, and explained about it. People have mostly been great. We’ve had a couple of inappropriate comments, but nothing too major.
I know it won’t hold her back. She doesn’t know any different, so she’s just learning to do things in her own way, and she’s already showing us how determined she is – she started crawling at 5 months!
You never know what life is going to throw at you. When I imagined having kids, I never pictured the family I have now, but I wouldn’t change it, they’re all perfect to me.