The baby came. It was a little chaotic, but he made it safe and sound.
Then the parents came (mine and husband’s.) More chaos, but also a lot of emotional holding/distraction that was very helpful.
Then we bought a house.
Then we sold a house. (2 days! Staging has been added to the list of my back up career choices.)
Its amazing how quickly our brain, once exposed to something different, normalizes it. Already I forget to mention Rayan’s limb difference to people and then am surprised when they are surprised. Most of our friends are quick to normalize things, with one notable exception, a playground mom, who I think was just dumbstruck and didn’t know what to do with her face.
My toddler, a very observant, precocious child, has never once acknowledged his limb difference. She’s accepted him the way he is, and while I know its probably just age/developmental stage related, it warms my heart. She knows to kiss his left arm when I ask her to kiss his “little hand”, so I know she knows. It just doesn’t matter. He’s her “baby brother”, her “whole thing face orca”, a brother to love and play with. She knows now to grab his hands when she leans in for a kiss because he will otherwise grab her hair.
And then there’s him. He is very different from her. Calmer. Always ready with a smile. Playful. Observant. Easy going. Refusing to roll over. (We’re working on it.) He likes to watch his (one) hand. I can’t help thinking that he is already hard-wiring his one-handedness, and wondering if having a prosthetic at an early age would change that wiring. We’ve made the medical rounds- Boston Children’s and Shriner’s and a few other places- most places now don’t recommend any prosthetic interventions at this early age.
We’ve taken him out and about. In public spaces most people just comment on how cute and chubby he is. Kids around 4-5 years of age are the most curious. One asked, “how will he grasp things without his hand?” I told her he would be just fine. She wanted to ask more (and I would have been fine having the discussion) but her mom shushed her. Another asked me, matter of fact, how his hand broke off. I thought that was funny. The young boy had a hard time grasping Rayan was just “born that way”. I was going to follow up with a dinosaur story (epic battle, boy slays dino, dino makes away with boy’s hand), but again, shushed by father. Oh, well.
I’ve met some wonderful limb different families. I’ve also taken to routinely reading stories about all kinds of special needs kids. They reinforce me in many ways. Knowing we are not alone. Knowing that we are blessed in a lot of ways. Knowing that his limb difference may either not define him at all or define him in a positive way. I still worry at times, but it’s a lot less, a lot different from what I had imagined.