‘How is he? Does he have 10 fingers and toes?’ He replied, ‘Actually, no he doesn’t.’ They looked concerned.’: Mom surprised by son’s cleft hands diagnosis, ‘None of these ‘extra’ ultrasounds noticed my child’s hands’

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“I’ve always known that the ‘middle finger’ could cause a stir, but I never knew the lack of one could cause a bigger stir. During my pregnancy I had several ultrasounds and even saw a few specialists due to being ‘high risk’. None of these ‘extra’ ultrasounds or specialists noticed my child’s’ hands.

I had a scheduled C-section due to having one previously and our hospital not having a NICU in case there were complications. I was expecting to meet my son the moment he came out and look at his tiny everything! He went straight to the incubator where all the nurses in the room gathered around him, I couldn’t even sneak a peek if I tried. His father squeezed in to take a peak and returned to let me know.

I asked him, ‘How is he?’ It is a he, right?’ ‘Does he have all ten fingers and toes?’ Why is this even a question? Why is that an expression? Maybe because you always expect the answer to be ‘yes’, right? He says to me ‘actually, no he doesn’t but everything else seems to be just fine.’ Since nothing was ever seen on the ultrasound, I just laughed a little and figured he was giving me a hard time. I laid there for what seemed like hours in anticipation of seeing that sweet boy of mine. They took him out while I was being ‘closed up.’

When I got back to my room, full of family that I love so much, they all looked so concerned. I finally got to hold my beautiful boy and learned that he inf act did not have all ten fingers. The nurses ‘had never seen anything like this’ and thought that might be a good excuse for show and tell. If you want to meet all the nurses in your maternity ward, I guess that’s one way to do it.

I saw a beautiful perfect baby boy, but the nurses and doctors saw something ‘different.’ I think that was the hardest part of all, trying to enjoy this precious gift while everyone else wanted to figure out ‘what’s wrong.’ My son was born with central ray deficiency or cleft hands.

According to the doctors this is usually only a symptom of a bigger issue. Cleft pallet, cleft feet, a hole in the heart. It was almost like even after the tests they just couldn’t accept that it was only a limb difference.

Courtesy Christina Milem

I guess maybe it comes with being a mom, but I was never really concerned in the way others were. I was concerned about how he felt, was he in pain, would this cause him issues with development, how will I teach him that it’s okay to be ‘different.’ Worried about what he may miss out on throughout life. But I knew he would be the only one to answer these questions.

Courtesy Christina Milem

He is a little over a year now, and I can tell you there is not one single thing he can’t do that other kids his age can. He adapts, he is strong, he overcomes. He shows me there’s nothing ‘different’ about him. I do not have to worry about his development. I know there will come a time that we will have to work on the other people that might think he is ‘different’ but I am so happy to know there is a huge community for people with limb differences and I feel inspired by them every single day.

Courtesy Christina Milem

My ‘lucky fin’ Chandler Michael has truly been the light of my life, as well as his sisters and dad’s life. His hands are one of my favorite things, where his finger is missing, mine fit right in and to me, that is perfection.”

Courtesy Christina Milem

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Christina Milem, 30, of Oregon. Follow her journey on Instagram here.  Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more inspiring stories of children with limb difference:

‘I’m under the impression you already know your baby is missing its left hand.’ The doctor looked mortified.’: Couple learns of daughter’s limb difference, ‘angry’ after doctor suggests termination

‘What? No hands?’ My Dad was minutes away from picking my husband up. The Universe chose me to be Ivy’s mom.’: Mother learns of daughter’s limb difference, refuses terminating pregnancy because ‘she was ours to love, protect’

‘I looked down at my wedding ring, and my heart broke. Where would she wear a wedding ring?’: Mother learns of child’s limb difference diagnosis, looks at her as ‘my perfect daughter’

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