What is ABS?
ABS occurs when the fetus becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development.
If a band wraps tightly around a limb, the limb can actually be completely amputated. If the band is across the baby’s face it can cause cleft palate. In a large number of cases the baby is also born with clubfeet. ABS is also the cause of numerous miscarriages, such as when a band becomes wrapped around the umbilical cord. ABS occurs randomly. It’s not genetic, nor is it caused by anything a pregnant Mom did or didn’t do during pregnancy. Just because a person already has one child with ABS, that doesn’t make it any more likely that it’s going to affect a future pregnancy.
“Brianna’s name was decided upon the day my Mother in law passed away. We’d had a list with 3 girl names and 3 boy names. We wouldn’t find out our babies gender until the following week. But the day my husband returned home from being with his Mother as she passed he sat down looked at the list and said our babies name will be Brianna. His Mother’s name was Anna. So Brianna was named in memory of her Grandma. The name Brianna broken down means: strength for Bri and full of grace or mercy for Anna.
A week later at our ultrasound everything checked out well! We were 20 weeks along and told it looked as though we were having a girl. We’d have to come back in 4 weeks to double check the gender. A month later, Brianna was reconfirmed as being a girl. We were over joyed! Now we would have one of each, as we already had a little boy Zachary.
Days before I reached 7 months in my pregnancy I was placed on bed rest. My blood pressure was far too high. I ended up having to visit my OB twice a week. Once for an appointment with him and twice to be monitored to make sure our girl wasn’t in distress due to my high blood pressure. A long 3 months went by and finally one Friday morning we set the date of inducement for our Brianna. I would deliver on May 12, 2008, the day after Mother’s day!
We were scheduled to be in the labor unit of the hospital at 5 am that rainy Monday morning. Labor progressed very quickly and within 4 hours and 1 minute after being induced I pushed our Brianna into this world.
Our baby girl was here! But before I even got so much as a glimpse at her dark head of hair, Dr. Downing announced “there is a problem, we are missing a hand.”
Surely there must be some sort of mistake? Had he not pulled her out all the way yet I thought? Then they placed her on my belly and I saw exactly what he was saying. No right hand. This beautiful little girl had been born missing her lower right forearm and hand.
I began to shake and scream “No no no….no one will like her” It wasn’t fair I thought she is the most beautiful newborn I’d ever seen and without her hand it was all ruined. People would be cruel to her always, especially in school. How could God let this happen to my baby? They removed Brianna from me before I even really got the chance to touch her.
Quickly Dr. Downing came to my side and held my face so I would look at him. Maybe to keep me from watching my husband that had turned paste white and was sobbing too. He said what happened to our baby was known as Amniotic Band Syndrome and even if they had noticed it in time it would not have made a difference because any procedure they could have tried may have caused Brianna to die. He said that at some point after her 20 week ultra sound a band caused Brianna’s hand to fall asleep and stop growing.
After Dr. Downing talked to me I laid in the hospital bed watching the nurses wipe Brianna off and check her over further. Thankfully my Mother who was in the delivery room, while stunned as well, quickly grabbed a camera and was able to take Brianna's first pictures. If it had not been for her no pictures would have been taken of our Brianna in her first minutes of life. It was in those moments a peace began to wash over me. I was Brianna’s Mommy. God had given her to me for a reason. I loved this girl with all my heart and I would be her warrior whenever she needed me. When they finally finished with Bri and brought her back to me, all wrapped up in a blanket, I swear she gave me a smile as if to say everything would be ok.
It was harder on my husband, Denny in the first days. As a man he just wanted to fix this but there was no way to fix it. He worried about our Brianna’s future. But the more he was around her the more in love he fell too and soon realized everything would be ok.
Since we have been amazed as we watch our Brianna grow and learn new things every day. She has become my hero! We’ve seen her behave so well as she was fitted with her first prosthetic at only 4 months of age. She doesn’t wear it a lot but she is fine with it when it’s on. She has so many tricks to doing things with just one hand and what we fondly call “Miss Stub”.
She’ll be one very soon. Brianna will be walking soon too. Most of the time, she is the happiest baby I have encountered. Even when she had surgery to fix a anal problem she was a little trooper. She charmed all the nurses in the unit. Almost everyone that has encountered Brianna has been kind and sweet to her. Not nasty and rude like I once feared. People love Brianna for who she is.
God blessed me so much the day he brought Brianna into my life. I still have the seldom moment where tears fill my eyes over Brianna’s missing hand but then I look at her and a smile dries my eyes. I look forward to watching my special young lady grow up! The possibilities are endless for her.”
I wrote this almost 3 years ago for a book that was published in Australia for families of children with hand indifference's. Reading over my past words it’s amazing how much more has happened since! Brianna lives up to the name she was given every day. She is a strong child and being that she currently believes she is in fact a princess she is full of grace that only an innocent little girl can portray. At 3.5 years of age she already tells me daily that God loves her. Along the years God has placed the right people in her life. She has a long list of “cheer leaders” rooting her along in her life! Recently her preschool teacher told me with tear filled eyes that in gym class Bri performed the push- ups just like every other child, without hesitation. The teacher said all the adults in the room were in tears over it. Nothing holds back Brianna. We have had some tough conversations. Out of the blue, Brianna has asked where her hand is or when will it grow in? Honesty has been the best approach and explaining to her that this is how God made her. Speaking of God, it’s great to know and witness that he has big plans for my little princesses’ life! I wish I could talk to the me that wrote this years ago. The past me that wrote this still had some pretty fresh wounds, but was trusting God all the while. Three years later I would tell the old me it still is going to hurt sometimes, yes you are going to encounter some unpleasant interactions in public. But the great news is God had a plan for all of Bri’s life. She is flourishing and growing into a beautiful young girl, inside and out. I would tell the old me that the biggest issue your daughter has right now is that she insists on wearing her tutu petti skirt and tiara to school and changes her outfits hourly at home.
|Brianna at birth|
|Brianna on her 1st birthday|
|Brianna ready for preschool. Sporting some awesome style!|
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