A true story of a young warrior ♥
Once upon a time, there was a couple in love. The would-be parents moved out to Colorado to start a family and the mother gave up her job to care for her babies. Blessed with a son, soon followed by another, they began a happy existence as a family of four.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end”
A few months into this joyful time, the new baby boy broke the main bone in his lower leg. At birth, the family had been warned that his left leg was bent and may break at any time. At 7 months old, the little baby was in a cast - a hard, heavy, cumbersome addition to his tiny body. By this time, the family had learned that this bundle of joy had a random genetic mutation called Neurofibromatosis-1, despite the family having no previous history of this condition. Some of the possible complications of NF1 are frightening and the devastated parents realized that this broken bone could be only the beginning of their precious child's troubles.
The family's holiday celebrations were overshadowed by this decision hanging over them. If they decided to amputate his leg, the sooner they did it, the sooner his road to recovery and to some kind of normalcy. A date was booked in January 2011 for the operation to amputate the baby's lower leg.
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”
In the run up to the operation, the boy's mother wanted to capture her last moments with her complete little baby and all of his toes. She knew they were making the right decision for him, because his leg bones would not heal, but felt sick at the thought of cutting off his beautiful healthy tiny toes and sweet little baby foot. Many, many tears were shed during the long nights leading up to that operation.
Fortunately, the operation went smoothly. That night, recovering in hospital, the little boy was so sweet and quiet and never complained, but sucked his thumb and fell asleep tightly clutching his remaining toes.
"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending"
In the months that followed, the boy was fitted with a tiny prosthetic leg. The scar took a long time to heal and the family learned to adapt to a life of people staring and misunderstandings in the grocery store. One time, a well-meaning shopper noticed that the baby had only one sock, but in looking around for the missing sock, was embarrassed when the family explained that he only needed one sock for his one foot. Another time, a stranger, waiting in line next to the sweet baby in the shopping cart, started to tickle his toes. The stranger thought the other leg had got tucked up inside his jeans, but was so horrified to find the limb was missing that she ran away, leaving the mother open-mouthed!
These are regular occurrences that the family is slowly getting used to. Harder to overcome were the frustrations of their little boy who wanted to walk as he watched all the growing babies around him standing up and taking their first steps and his own big brother running around the house.
For a year, this little boy went to weekly therapy classes, fittings for his leg, genetic tests and doctors appointments to check for other symptoms of the NF1. As Christmas came around again, the family found it hard approaching the anniversaries of the decision they made and the operation date. Once again, there was an overwhelming feeling of loss, as well as trepidation for their youngest son's future with NF1.
One development that made the anniversaries easier on the boy's parents was the day he took his first steps! A wonderful moment for any family, but for this family, having overcome a massive struggle to reach this point, the joy that accompanied this milestone was heartfelt!
I look forward to many more opportunities to photograph this beautiful family and this brave little boy, my small friend, as he strides determinedly through life. My friend's name is Owen, which means "young warrior". He certainly is a fighter. ♥
If you are interested in finding out more about NF1, here is the website for the Children's Tumor Foundation.
"The Way I View________" is an artistic collaboration between around a hundred photographers on the "Clickin' Moms" forum. To have a look at some of the other photographers' interpretations of this month's subject, "New Beginnings", click through the linked blog entries in our group, starting with Katie: www.felixfam.blogspot.com