Fortunately, my youngest son came into this world with no complications at all. Both, me and my husband, held him for around an hour. We could not help but gush over him – be it for his tiny size, his pinkish-red cheeks, or his prompt attempt to nurse. By God’s grace, we had brought another bundle of cuteness into this world. We were simply so mesmerized by our tiny angel that a possibility of a birth defect was not even on our minds.
We spent our entire time doting on him. But then, my baby’s first checkup interrupted that bliss. While we could not wait to know how he was doing in terms of height and weight, we were told by the nurse about an irregularity she noticed in his feet.
The doctor was immediately called in who did further examination. He informed us of how our son’s three middle toes on the left foot were shorter in comparison with his right one. Even the nails were not growing in the right place. Instead, it was growing on the edge of his toe. In fact, there was also something similar to a wound on one of his toes. It was there until he was four months old after which a nail began to grow in that area.
Of course, I was panicking. I could barely do anything. But then, I went online after four hours and started doing my own research. My son’s condition was not really a recognized one making it hard for me to find any information on the internet regarding the same. When our doctor called us to inform that there didn’t seem to be an internal issue because of the malformation, my husband and I sighed in relief.
I was still unsure whether my son’s shortened toes was because of something genetic. Or it was just that his tiny foot did not have enough space to grow in my womb. In fact, I felt so guilty about the latter that I even searched online to find out when the fingers and toes form during pregnancy. It happens in the ninth week. Even their toenails grow by the tenth week.
Though all signs indicated that it might be just a cosmetic problem, my partner and I still followed up with more specialists. This was when my son was about six months old. Both of us just wanted to ensure that he would not have any trouble walking later on. Thankfully, he will not face any problems with respect to that. Mostly, walking occurs with the help of the heel and the pad of the foot. Since his little and big toes are of a normal size, he does not need any special braces or support either.
Since this deformity does not hinder my son’s growth in any which way (and does not really come in notice either), this fact hardly ever comes up in our conversation. Yes, I have spoken about it with my family members or friends. I do not necessarily bring people’s attention to it, but if it ever comes up, I do not hide it either.
I think the main challenge that both of us will face as parents is with respect to his emotions when he grows up. Our pediatrician, as well as the experts that we met, have helped us understand how to tackle his emotions, especially when questions crop up about the differences. The way we react about his cosmetic malformation will have a huge impact on how he perceives it too.
We absolutely adore our son and his birth defect is something that we don’t feel the need to talk about, at all. How can we? We are smitten by his giggles and laughs, all day long! As a mother, I just want to shield and protect him. And, most importantly, I want to ensure that he knows how amazing and awesome he is!