What does a hand difference mean for my child?
Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! For some parents, their baby’s hand difference was discovered in utero. But for others, it will be a complete surprise.
Parents tell us that they feel the full range of emotions when they discover that their newborn has a hand difference. Some parents feel guilty and wonder if it was something they did or a hereditary link that they missed. Here at Aussie Hands, we want to reassure you that your baby’s difference is absolutely not your fault. There is nothing you did to cause it and nothing you could have done to prevent it. It is very unlikely that the hand difference was due to genetics.
Bec, a wonderful mum of a child with a hand difference, said it best:
“IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! Let me repeat, your baby’s difference is NOT YOUR FAULT. You’ll make yourself go crazy trying to think what you did/didn’t do or what you did wrong but I assure you, you did nothing wrong. Your baby chose to come into this world exactly as they are and they chose YOU as their parents because they knew that you would be the right people to love and guide them through life”.
We know that every parent in the Aussie Hands community had all sorts of worries about their child’s future when they were first born covering all the life stages including:
- How will they be treated by other children?
- How will they manage everyday tasks?
- Will they be able to play sport or an instrument?
- What sort of job will they be able to find a job when they grow up?
- How will this affect their confidence when trying to make friends or find a romantic partner?
- Will they get bullied?
- How will I make sure that they grow up to be resilient?
When you are ready, please reach out to Aussie Hands. We are happy to chat and put you in touch with other parents who have been through the same process. Sharing your worries with people who understand from first-hand experience is one of the most powerful things you can do to scaffold yourself through this stressful time.
And please remember that it is perfectly okay to feel sad and to grieve. This is a totally normal part of the journey and worth giving time and space for. As Bec says:
“Grieve. You are allowed to be sad. But don’t stay there. Do have a look through the [Aussie Hands] website. See all the children and adults that have gone before you. If they can do it your baby will too! It’s going to be an emotional journey but you have support. Find someone you can connect with either in person or via messages that you can ask questions”
Some mums have shared that they found it very triggering to see photos and cards with “perfect” babies with “ten little fingers and ten little toes”. They also worried about what it was going to be like, getting out and about with their baby, anticipating stares and questions from friends and strangers.
A number of parents have told us they found it really helpful to have a supportive friend or family member with them the first few times they went out. After a while, they worked out what they would say to people who asked and learned to set firm boundaries with anyone who asked overly personal questions or offered unwelcome opinions.
Remember that this is a very tiring and emotional time and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by all the information you are receiving. Go as gently as you can and remember that we are here and ready to help.
What is the best way to share the news of my baby’s hand difference?
This is an entirely personal decision. Many mums and dads find they need time to process their own feelings and emotions before they can tell others. Take your time.
Some families take the initiative and share the news of their baby’s hand difference with the world in an up-beat and positive way. Check out this amazing example from the Ross family:
We chose to “announce” Evelyn’s birth to our family and friends privately at the time of her birth, and then on Facebook during Limb Difference Awareness Month (April). This was penned by Adam, with much thought and consideration.
“Friday 19th January 2019 we welcomed into the world a tanned and dark haired exotica named Evelyn Grace weighing 3.01kg or 6lb10oz. After the beautiful birth we also discovered that fantastic Evie has a unique difference about her, with a mere thumb and no fingers on her left hand (known as symbrachydactyly). Issy and Etta over the moon and keen to share her and her little difference! Evelyn is a stunner and although she may not be a golfer when she grows up, neither is Dad. We are confident that she will still make either the AFLW or W-League drafts for 2036. @shaquem_griffin was just drafted in the NFL By then we are hoping for pay-parity and early retirement”