Click here for her story in Spanish. Celeste was born on January 24th, 2007 in San Francisco, California without her left forearm. My pregnancy was not the best, but my fears disappeared after three ultrasounds confirmed my little girl was perfect.
I remembered saying a common phrase to my husband after giving birth “please count ten fingers and toes”. Words you don’t really know the meaning until there aren’t ten fingers and toes.
My labor was pretty good and Celeste was born without problems. I remember when Matias gave her to me I cried I couldn’t believe she was finally with us. After 10 seconds he told me she doesn’t have a hand! Neither the doctor nor the nurse was aware of a problem…it was as much of a shock to them… I thought, “No, it is impossible what I heard…my baby without hand? Well, don’t worry, we can find a doctor who can give her another, today medicine can do anything.”
Denial and anger were my first feelings. I couldn’t believe it. One of my worst fears was real. Those days following her birth were bittersweet: filled with happiness and anguish. For months after I felt responsible and guilty for what happened to my daughter and was really mad with God. Why us? Why her? When I was walking in the street the only thing that I did was watch to see if babies and kids had both hands…obviously they did! And I continued asking why? Why her?
As time passed I began to understand that Celeste arrived in our world to make us better people. Matias and I are sure that she’s going to be a very special person, and like my husband said “she’ll inspire many people”.
We were referred to Shriners Hospital. Although they were very kind to her, we didn’t find the reassurance or answer we were looking for about whether or not prosthesis was the best solution. Those months were very distressing, because that decision was too important and we didn’t know what to do. Here in the States people said that either decision is good, but they also said there is a possibility of the child rejecting the prosthesis, creating a barrier between parent and child, and in some cases causing an infant shock.
In September we returned to our home in Chile, to introduce her to our family. We realized the importance of family and her growing up with them. We also went to Teleton, a very famous hospital for children, like Shriners. They were very warm and after talking over our options they helped us make a decision…what did we have to lose? They encouraged us to try prosthesis and if after a few months she rejects it, she should stop wearing it. We decided we were giving her a tool so in the future SHE can decide if she wants to use it.
She never rejected the prosthesis, even now. All those fears we had for so many months disappeared when she wore it for the first time and touched her new hand and looked at us… what a moving day! Today she uses it a lot; she rests in it and beats many things with it.
Celeste is now 10 months old and she’s doing everything like other kids her age. I’m not angry any more. Some days I’m sad and worry about how I’m going to explain to her about her arm and how she will react to certain situations. I’m full of hope and know that I have a big responsibility to educate my little baby with the right tools for the future.
Her smile and eyes talk by themselves, she’ll do whatever she wants to do. She is still just a baby but we are already preparing for the future. We’re moving back to Chile, because for her and for us our family support is of vital importance.
Please feel free to contact Celeste's parents via email. The would love to hear from you.
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