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Leilani, Norfolk, Virginia

Hello, my name is Marissa and I have an 8 month old beauty named Leilani. Leilani was born without a left hand. It doesn't stop her though. She's proven that she'll find a way to do whatever she pleases.

When I was pregnant with Leilani, we had no clue anything was different from any other pregnancy. I'd had all of my ultrasounds, they told me she looked good. I even went to an independent company and had a 4D ultrasound. It was plain sight that she looked fine. We thought that she had her hand in a fist. We thought "oh, how cute, already beating up her mom in there." But when she was born, we found it wasn't a fist, it was actually a bit of a stubb. She has the little nubblets for fingers, the doctors think she has all of her wrist bones, and a few hand bones, but not all of them. So, she's able to use it like a hook kind of.

The night she was born, the receptionist thought I was "faking it" so she kept me in the Lobby til I was about ready to pop, by the time they brought me back, Leilani's head was starting to crown. I was bleeding a lot, and they couldn't get it stop. They rushed her away, and were cleaning her up and I could see, her arm, and from afar, as dizzy as I was (even with no painkillers and no epideral), it looked like a third foot on her arm instead of a hand. I remember shouting out "whats wrong with her?!" They left and started to get ready to whisk me away to surgery, as things were going bad. My husband came to my side, and said "do you want to see her? She's beautiful." I said "yes, please". She was beautiful (still is). Like an absolute doll, just perfect. Couldn't have asked for anything better.

After surgery, my husband asked me "are you okay [with her hand]?" I said "yeah, are you okay?" He said yeah. And we smiled at each other. Because we had the most beautiful little girl and she's everything we could've asked for.

To this day, Leilani has a beautiful personality. I think without her left hand, she's actually smarter. Because she has to think, and then act, to do things, like open one of her books, and flip through it. I think the challenge, is going to make her stronger. She's already determined, and has shown that she will not let anything get in her way. I completely forget that she doesn't have a left hand sometimes. I know that sounds funny, but I think of her as an ordinary baby.

I think my sister was more tore up over her hand then I was. At first, the kids at the daycare were like "what's wrong with her hand?" But after a day or two, they treat her like an ordinary kid. The toddlers come around, try to play with her. The first words out of anybody's mouth is "she's so beautiful" not comments about her hand. They don't even look at her hand. The people at church didn't even realize she had anything different about it, til I mentioned it. Then they looked and were like "oh my, I didn't even see that."

I know oneday Leilani's gonna be my Hero and shatter all misconceptions about people with limb differences. I can't wait.

J. Marissa

October 2007 - Almost a year and a half has gone by since I found this awesome website and posted my daughter, Leilani's, story. So far, I've had the opportunity to talk with a lot of parents who were going through the same thing - same feelings, same situation. Its been really awesome.

Leilani has grown to be Miss Independent. She hates to have things done for her. I absolutely admire her tenacity. She will NOT give up - no matter the scope or complexity of whatever it is she is out to achieve. Needless to say, this has kept me on my toes. She won't let me read to her - because she prefers to read to me. She'll point to the pictures and make up her own story in two-year-old-speak (wish to God I had a translator). She turns round knobs, gets into everything. Leilani is quite the imp. She makes us laugh with all her antics and is just now starting to realize she's a princess.

Her father is a martial arts instructor and one thing we say is she most definitely has the "pass out before you tap out" spirit. Maybe its over-compensation but I've never seen stubbornness on this level. Like her whole soul is shouting out "don't tell me what I can and can't do!"

Leilani hasn't been to see a specialist. The pediatrician insisted we see an occupational therapist once - just to ensure she's on par with other kids her age. If she wasn't on par, then she surpassed the expected ranges of children her age. Other than that, she hasn't seen anyone specifically for her hand. The truth is, she's doing fine. She's just as normal as any other kid. Most of the time everyone forgets she doesn't have a left hand.

Certainly when she gets older I'll put her through the 'tie your shoes' and 'learn to type' classes. If she wants a prosthesis - of course her wishes will be accommodated. Until then, I'll let her live her way for these few fleeting years before she starts school. Some Moms have expressed their concern about the kids starting school. I have to admit - I'm nervous too.

As for now she's beautiful, confident, and above all, happy. She's empowered and she's inspirational. I love this little girl so much, she's so much a part of my life. I feel completely blessed that Leilani is who she is, and is made the way she is made. I am so thankful that she is in my life, and that I was chosen to be her mother.

And for those Moms that sometimes contact me because they are expecting babies with similar limb differences (and I guess for those Moms that are too nervous to contact me) - I just have this to say: DON'T BE AFRAID. These babies are beautiful just the way they're made. Once you look into their eyes, its all over. You'll be head over heels in love and nothing else will matter. You'll see.

Oh - and yes - that's her playing with a children's guitar. One of her favorite toys.


To communicate with Leilani, you may contact Marissa via email.

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