‘There’s an issue with her hand.’ I was scared. It was inverted backwards, and she only had 3 fingers.’: Mom ‘shocked’ after daughter born with limb difference, ‘I was determined to protect her every way I could’

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“My first son was seven months old when I discovered I was 5 weeks pregnant with my daughter. Her pregnancy wasn’t planned but I was happy about it nonetheless. The pregnancy was a smooth ride aside from the regular morning sickness and all that comes with pregnancy. I was actually stronger during her pregnancy than I was with my son.

The moment I gave birth to her, I noticed the doctor and nurses exchanged glances. They wrapped her up before handing her over to me, but they took her back almost immediately.

‘We want to get her cleaned up first,’ they told me.

I didn’t really understand why they did that as I was so happy to finally hold my baby after all the pains I went through. After I was cleaned up and taken to my room, my husband told me, ‘There’s a little issue with her hand.’ I was scared at first and I quickly opened her up and checked. I saw that her left hand was very small and inverted backwards, and she only has three fingers on her hand.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye

I was shocked at first, but I just shrugged and placed her back in her crib.

I could not even cry. I just told my husband, ‘God created her like that.’ I called my mom and sisters and told them the news. My mom was totally devastated, and I had to caution her that I, the mother, am not even crying – who are we to question God?! The reality hadn’t really dawned on me. I was too tired from the delivery process and my mind was totally blank. I couldn’t sleep all night. I just sat and kept on looking at her and adjusting her crib till it was dawn. It was the next day when family came visiting and their look was solemn that I finally started crying, their presence and reactions made me realize that something was indeed wrong.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye

The doctors never had any answers for me. Rather, they were accusing me that I must have taken drugs while I was pregnant with her.

‘Her deformity is the reaction the drugs had on the baby,’ they told me.

Another doctor came 48 hours later to check her and he said she might have spina bifida, heart conditions and some other conditions as babies ‘like these’ usually come with ‘a lot of baggage.’ I was devastated that this was coming from a medical practitioner, even when he never carried out any tests on her.

When I was discharged, I took her to a children’s hospital. They checked her and said, ‘Every other thing seems fine with her. You should let her recover from the birthing process before running tests on her.’

Two weeks after her birth, I traveled to another state to a well-known teaching hospital to get her checked and different test were done. We were told that she’s perfectly fine aside from her limb difference.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye

When I first discovered she had a limb difference, I was shocked and in complete disarray. I was heartbroken. I was angry at God and the world, I always wondered, ‘why me?’ I would cry myself to sleep every day. I shut myself out from the world and went into a depression. I always wondered what her future would be like. I cried at every little thing, such as seeing my son riding the bicycle or wearing his socks. I cried at everything I thought my daughter would not be able to do due to her limb difference.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye

I am thankful to God for my number one support system, my husband. he stood by be in those dark moments. He was always encouraging me, telling me our daughter will be fine regardless of her limb difference. Also my family, my mother-in-law and a few family friends, they showed me love even when I was down and couldn’t reciprocate the same.

It was during those dark moments that I searched the internet and discovered that what my daughter has what is called Ulnar Deficiency. For a whole year, I locked myself and my baby indoors, not going anywhere and crying myself to sleep every night. I was scared for my daughter and what the future holds for her because I know our environment and society can be mean. I knew I had to protect her by any means I could, and her smile was what kept me going those times.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye
Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye
@gazmadustudios

We have had our share of mean comments and people have been out-rightly disrespectful, but through it all I have learned that it is my responsibility to show others how to treat me, and in turn, my daughter. When she was about to start school, I took her to a school that was perceived to be one of the best in the area and I was shocked by what the head of school said to me: I have to be ‘prepared’ as kids all over the world are mean.

‘Your daughter will be bullied, she will be treated badly due to her limb difference,’ she told me.

I went home heartbroken and was determined to protect my daughter in every possible way I could.

Courtesy of Adetola Ogunleye

I have learned to encourage her through her trying times, like when she’s having difficulty doing some tasks, and I make sure I let her know she can do anything she puts her mind to – and that she’s not limited by her limb difference, that she is different, not less. I also make sure I celebrate her when she overcomes difficult tasks, like when she was learning how to ride a bicycle I was always cheering her on that she can do it, and the day she finally rode the bicycle unassisted we celebrated her so well.

@mofebamuyiwa/BMBSTUDIO
@mofebamuyiwa/BMBSTUDIO

Through it all, I have learned to always be there for my kids, nurture them in love, pay attention to the things I know they love and also put my total trust in God.”

@mofebamuyiwa/BMBSTUDIO
@mofebamuyiwa/BMBSTUDIO

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Adetola Ogunleye. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and her daughter’s here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more inspiring stories of children with unique and special differences:

‘What? No hands?’ 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’

‘Who wants a single mom with a deformed monster?! NO ONE!’ Pregnant at 18, my abortion was the next day. A flip switched.’: Mom raises son with missing limbs despite abusive partner’s pressure to terminate pregnancy

‘I heard her in the hall, talking about the ‘awful day’ she was having, and all the’ rough news’ she was having to break to families. When she entered, everything changed.’

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