My Child Has A Hand Difference
July 1981. I was in hospital in premature labour (34 weeks) and my gynaecologist thought I had twins so requested a scan. My first one. The scan picked up a single bub but did not pick up that my baby had no right hand or forearm below the elbow.
Jay was born 3 weeks early in the end and yes it was a huge shock to both my husband and myself. We went through all sorts of emotions those next few days as to how our baby boy was going to cope and us too. The hospital were very good and offered as much support as they could, but Jay was their first baby born this way. Strangely enough over the next 3 months there were 2 similar births!
Right from the start we gave Jay’s arm a pet name ‘Moley’ as we did not want it to be referred to as his small arm, deformed arm etc.
Jay coped very well, pulling himself up using chin and left arm, shuffling on bottom rather than crawling. Jay had his first cosmetic arm fitted at 41/2 months, followed by a split hook at 18 months and at 5 years old he had a myo electric arm. This was all fitted in the UK.
We emigrated to Australia when Jay was 7 and he decided he would no longer wear a limb. He never had any issues at school. We requested not to have an aide as we wanted him to be as independent possible. We left it to him to ask for help as needed.
I am conscious of not making this story too long but hard with 37 years to cram in, so I am going to outline a couple of accomplishments which I hope will help other parents.
Swimming. He did not have a problem learning and was swimming very well at 4 years old. He has since swam to Rottnest in a team of 4 three times.
Bike riding. My husband swapped both brake levers to the left side of his bike and problem solved.
Sports. Played tee ball very successfully as well as basketball.
Driving. He passed his test in an automatic car (the rules then) but has since obtained his manual licence.
Work. When Jay told us he wanted to be a Pilot, I just about had a fit but nonetheless wrote to various aeronautic clubs asking if they thought it would be possible. One very kind owner of a school wrote offering Jay work experience. He then offered him a free lesson. He then told us Jay was a natural. His career in aviation commenced and whilst it has been a longer road for him to achieve his dream, he is now a successful First Officer with a Commercial airline.
Relationships. Jay met his childhood sweetheart and after a 9 year romance, they married and have 4 beautiful children. They had twins first time (maybe my gynaecologist had a premonition!). Jay coped well with feeding and changing towelling nappies. I think Moley may have got pricked once or twice but he did it. Jay’s children fight over who is going to hold Moley when out and about. Miss 3 has been known to confide in Moley when Daddy has told her off.
Blame. I asked Jay if he ever blamed me for him being born without his hand his answer was NO WAY he says he could not imagine himself being any other way.
So 37 years later what would I advise. Please don’t moly coddle your children, let them find their way to do things; and trust me, I have seen it with my very own eyes, they will. Don’t let people tell you what your child can or can’t do either. People who don’t have a clue were very good at that I found during my experience.