A Note to New Parents of a Child with a Limb Difference
10 fingers and 10 toes aren't everything, a healthy baby is what's most important.
Having a child changes your perspectives and having a child with a limb difference can change your perspectives even more. Jen Lee Reeves, mother of Jordan Reeves and founder of Born Just Right shares her thoughts and tips to new parents:
"Congrats on your new arrival. It’s okay to be sad. We tend to have a vision that the “perfect” baby has ten fingers and ten toes. I have wonderful news. Ten fingers aren’t that big of a deal. Yes, you’ll probably stare at babies with two hands for a while. I know I did. But please, know that you are not alone. I am so proud to be a resource for you.
It’s okay to ask a TON of questions. When Jordan was born, I had a small group of parents I found who were incredible listeners. Feel free to ask questions to other parents.
It’s totally worth reaching out and finding occupational and physical therapists now. It is never too early to find resources who can help make sure your little guy is strong and able to remain strong and healthy throughout his whole life.
It’s really important to take time and just absorb and enjoy this tiny baby zone. It’s precious. It’s quick. It’s exhausting. No matter how many exercises or appointments or whatever falls into your lap from doctors and therapists, sometimes taking a nap is more important. Actually, always try to take a nap. Seriously. I still feel like I’m catching up on sleep with an 8 and 11-year-old."
Here are 5 tips that Jen wishes she'd been told when her daughter was born and still sticks with today:
1. It’s okay to be sad. We all have an image of what our child will be like when he or she is born. We’re allowed to be sad.
2. Don’t let the sad run your life. Take the time to enjoy your sweet baby. The cuddly phase goes so fast. It’s the best… even if you’re sleep deprived.
3. Stop reading books and websites that tell you when standard developmental milestones take place. Your baby might hit those milestones differently. Also, he or she might come up with a way to meet those milestones differently.
4. Reach out to the limb different community. It’s getting easier and easier to communicate with people online but the most powerful experiences are meeting other limb different kids and their families. Our first meeting was when Jordan was 32 weeks old. We haven’t stopped meeting with families since!
In the UK, the charity Reach have a large network of people with limb loss and their families. They organise local and national meet ups and can be found online through their website www.reach.org.uk
5. Answer questions honestly and in a positive way. The way you respond to questions in public teaches your child how to respond when he or she grows up.
We hope this has been helpful and has set your mind at ease in what an be quite an overwhelming time.