Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A little something extra

When the twins were born, Hailey came first. We all waited a split second with bated breath until she let out a little lamb's mew,and then a cry, showing us that she could breathe on her own. It was such a huge relief, and so she was placed on my chest to snuggle up with her mama, cord still pulsing, for her first moments of life. We all basked in the relief and joy of her safe arrival, after spending the day wondering what shape she'd be in, being born five weeks early. At last, she was here and safe. But then ...
"Wait, there's something wrong with her," said my husband, with great concern. The mood immediately dropped. As the proud Daddy, his first duty was to count her ten toes and fingers. "She has an extra thumb," he said. Oh! We were all relieved again, thinking he had meant something far more serious was amiss. I remember smiling and saying, "Oh cool, Hailey!" To reassure us (mostly the papa), the doctor told us they'd look at it after but that it was not a big deal. Before we left the hospital, our doctor told us again that it'd be something to look into down the road, but that it would be our decision whether or not to have it removed.
So far, we love showing it off to people, and gauging the pool of reactions. A seven-year-old boy expressed great envy at her extra digit. A few people have unsuccessfully tried to hide their disdain, needing reassurance from us that we'd "take care of it" before she was in school. One weirdo even suggested there had been another baby in there that fused with Hailey, and all that remained today was its thumb. What a messed up thing to say! For the most part, people mirror our enthusiasm and playfully suggest all the ways in which Hailey will have an advantage over the rest of us: texting, hitchhiking, piano-playing, guitar strumming and video gaming.
We saw the visiting pediatrician today to see what, if anything, needs to be done. She told us that medically, nothing needed to be done and Hailey would lead a life largely unaffected by an extra thumb. She checked her over to make sure it wasn't a marker for any number of troubling genetic syndromes, and found it did not. She explained that if we chose to have it removed for socio-psychological reasons, it was best to do so by about age five, when it would best heal and when her body would best handle being put under general anesthetic. In the meantime, she arranged for a pediatric plastic surgeon who specializes in hands get in touch with us in the next few months. We would then bring her to Vancouver, if we so wish, to get an MRI done on her hand, to see what kind of nerve, muscle, bone and joint action is going on in there.
So far, this extra thumb has bone and moves along with the other thumb, but not independent of it.
As her parents, we are not sure what to do. I'm inclined to see what's going on in there, ensure it won't affect her motor skill development or dexterity, and if not, leave it. I think it would be cool, and make her extra-unique, especially from her very similar-looking twin sister. Her daddy is partial to removing it, wondering if she would get teased, or whether she'd need special gloves and mitts for winter, hockey, or baseball. I know it's our decision to make and I'm glad there's no rush, because I really don't know what the right answer is.
In the meantime, our little Hailey has a little something extra and man, is it awesome.

Took this picture at the hospital when she was first born.


  1. I think that's awesome! Good for you guys for going with the flow and enjoying this special thing that makes your girl unique:)

  2. I love Hailey and her extra thumb. Not an easy decision to make, but you guys will do what's best for her and in her best interest.

  3. Pooh on those opinionated, close-minded sillies who insist you must "take care of it". Good luck with that discussion and decision, Sarah! I think it's great that you have a bit of time to live with Hailey's "little something extra" before you have to make a decision.


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