I had never heard of ABS before. I never had the need to know what it was, how it happened and why until we had our son, Harris. Harris was born on 30th May 2014, exactly 3 weeks early, at 2.15am after 6 hours of active labour. My fiancé, James and I had agreed that we didn’t want to know the sex of the baby as we wanted it to be a surprise but deep down we both craved a little boy. So when Harris was delivered and the midwife said “it’s a boy” we were filled with joy. Harris was passed straight to me for skin to skin contact while the midwife rubbed him for warmth. As Harris opened his eyes to have his first look at me and opened his mouth for a crackled cry his little left hand griped my index finger – and that’s when I noticed something wasn’t right.
“Where are his fingers?” I panicked and looked at his other hand searching for 5 fingers on each hand and failing. I then lifted the hospital blanket from his body to look at his feet. “Where are his toes?!” With tear filled eyes I turned to James with terror. The two midwifes’ that were in the room with us just looked at us with a lost look… I wept, uncontrollably, while I was told by midwife after midwife and the paediatricians who was called to our room that he would be fine but not one person could tell us what had happened to our son. What? How? Why? Nothing.
9.58pm an older woman came into my private hospital room on the maternity ward, with a younger man who were both paediatricians. She had a closer look at Harris and began to explain that he would be seen by a plastic surgeon for corrective surgery before the age of one. Alone, tired and without a clue, I had no idea what she was on about – “amniotic sack… ruptures… bands” I never took much of it in other than there was hope for Harris and his hands.
Harris’ left hand was closed when the bands wrapped around his hand, he has band scars across the back of his hand and around his thumb, leaving his thumb shorter which has prevented a nail from growing. Also his ring, middle and index finger were bind together and amputated from his middle knuckle. His right hand has had a band wrapped around his index, middle and ring finger. His index finger hasn’t grown past the middle nuckle and his middle and ring finger have deep band scarring. His right foot has no big toe as it was completely amputated with his second and third toe left with band scars. Through time and growth we have found band scars on his left thigh and ankle which has left his foot swollen.
So many friends and family asked the simple question “what happened?” we never had answers so I began to investigate, searched and hoped I could find something and I found this website. I finally had an answer for myself, for James, for our family, our friends, people who meet Harris and for harris when one day he asks. I then found a group on Facebook full of parents like us, family members and adults with ABS. It was such a relief to talk, ask questions and just to know we and Harris were not alone.
We received a letter from Yorkhill Children’s Hospital when Harris was 3 weeks old for his first appointment with the plastic surgeons and we now have a date for Harris’ first surgery – 9th December 2014. It will be the first of many for all we know but it’s the beginning of obtaining the hands that Harris will grow up with, words can not describe the feelings we’ve gone through in Harris’ first 5 months but we have every faith in the work that the surgeons of Yorkhill and that’s why we have dubbed them “Harris’ heroes” as they will be the ones who set up the starting blocks for our son.