Meet Valentina

In the sprit of Dwarfism Awareness I though I would introduce you to some special little friends living in South Africa

My name is Pamela, I got married to Mick when I was 24 and two years later I feel pregnant with twin girls.  It was quite a challenge, but we managed.  When my daughters where 5 years old, Mick and I decided to try for another baby – I really wanted to have one baby that I could enjoy.  We tried for quite long, and I didn’t want to go on any medication, because I was really worried about having another set of twins.

Three years later we got it right and I was really over the moon with joy.  The doctor confirmed that I was pregnant and it was just one baby, so now it was a race to find a name that all four of us loved.  At about 3 months we went on holiday, and I remember seeing at least 5 special needs children with their families on holiday, I told Mick how I thought this was a sign that something is not right with our baby – he told me it is just normal for me to worry about the baby.  But still I had this feeling that all was not well.  At 27 weeks, the doctor saw problems – and told me that the baby’s arms and legs had stopped growing – ‘what does that mean???’  I had never heard of such a thing, that is just ridiculous!!!  I wasn’t worried about Down syndrome, because I had had all the tests and all were fine.  Then the word ‘Dwarf’ came up, and I was sent to a specialist that confirmed my baby was going to be a dwarf with a condition called Achondroplasia.  I really can’t explain the shock I was in, we knew nothing about this condition and I think I had seen maybe 1 or 2 dwarfs in my entire life.  Naturally we started gathering information from the internet, and then realized it was not such a terrible disability.

The last few months of my pregnancy were really bad, I was so worried that my other daughter’s were not going to accept her, I was worried about was she was going to look like.  I was worried about her mentally, and with all the hormones raging – I cried for three months straight.  My husband didn’t know what to do with me.  Then the day finally arrived and the moment she was born the room, which was full with nurses and doctors, went completely silent…  I could only hear my voice asking ‘Is she alright?’  No one would answer me.  Then I looked at her and she looked completely normal, I think everyone was shocked that she looked like any other new born baby.  The only thing we notice was her tiny little hands, her little fingers and palms where short and fat, non-the-less, they were the most gorgeous hands I had ever seen.  We all fell in love with her immediately, she was just as gorgeous and my other two darlings.

Other than Valentina having yellow jaundice, everything was pretty normal in the beginning.  At 6 weeks we went to the Geneticist, Mick and I didn’t want to do the blood tests on her – thinking what ever she will be, she will be.  The diagnosis was either a severe case of hypocondroplasia or a mild case of achondroplasia.  We were really happy with this, and were given a list of symptoms.  I battled to find growth charts and milestone charts, but realized early on that her muscle tone was not great, so we started with physio and a lot of other activities for her.  Her first operation was of grommets and removing her adenoids at 8 months, which went really well and made a huge difference.  A big concern was her spine, initially it was confirmed that she had scoliosis and kyphosis, but both were not very bad, and were just to be monitored.  At about 12 months the kyphosis started looking really bad, and I struggled to get a straight answer from all the doctors I had seen.  After months of searching for a doctor that knew something, I found a professor that specialized in congenital spinal conditions.  He assured us all was fine and it was just her bones growing at a different rate.  I was overjoyed.

It has been a really long road and a lot of doctor’s visits, Geneticist visits, lots of x-rays and one operation so far, but what has touched me the most has been the overwhelming support I have received from my family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been many hurtful comments and remarks, but mostly it has been really good.  People are far more willing to except differences than I thought.  I really try to be open and upfront with Valentina’s bone condition, but sometimes you really don’t feel like opening up and discussing it all the time.  I am lucky to have a handful of people that I can turn to if I have had a bad day, mostly my sister which has been a wonderful pillar of support.  It is also sometimes really hard to see children of her age and younger doing what they do, and seeing how far behind she is, but it is something I have to get used to.  I often find myself looking at other babies and admiring their long arms, long legs and beautifully straight spines and think I never noticed that before Valentina was born.  I know she will be able to do what ever it is that she wants to, but as a mother – knowing her battles ahead just to do day to day things is really heart breaking.

As Valentina grew, we notice that she is really a shining light – everyone that meets her falls in love with her instantly.  Her blue eyes and gorgeous smile captivates everyone’s heart.  Now that she is 15 months old and I look back on the past two years, I have grown as a human being because of her.  There has been such hard times, and a lot of soul searching – many tears and questions.  But I think our family has become a lot stronger and a lot closer because of our experience.  At the moment I am just trying to enjoy my three girls, and I know there will still be hard time in the future, but I will worry about them as they arise.  Over all I am looking forward to our future

Pamela and Valentina

Pamela and Valentina

A visit at the Bougard’s…..

This past weekend was a very for me and my family as we finally got to meet Heather and Richard and of course little Danielle Bougard.. we spent the afternoon together enjoying lunch and chatting about about life in general, Simone and Nicole really enjoyed the swimming pool and spent most of their time in the water… while Leah and Danielle decided to laze in the summer shade and enjoyed the best seat in the house (Moms lap for those that need a little more info)

Danielle is just beautiful and it was so special to finally get to hold her. She is such a happy ,peaceful little soul and we are so happy to have met Richard and Heather who are just two awesome people doing and amazing job of raising a really special little girl.

Its amazing how God puts a plan together….. and im sure this visit was  the start of something good. So before I go on… and… on…( as I usualy get carried away with excitement) here are some pictures of our visit with the Bougard family…. and the pictures were all taken by Danielle’s dad Richard…. who captured some really amazing memories on film

Our Christmas Miracle

A few days before Christmas, I was feeling very heavy hearted about life in general…. On the fanatical side of life things could be better, the house needs work, the girls school fees for the new year need to be budgeted for, Christmas gifts, Leah’s up and coming hospital visits, its like our snow ball just keeps on growing and I was feeling tired, emotionally exhausted I remember waking up and asking God why everything had happen to us, I remember saying “I don’t mind the snow balls Lord….just stagger them if you can, why do you send me a huge ball of difficulties…..I just cant handle everything at once, I need a break to breath,” I was angry and I hated the heavy feeling pressing on my chest.

Christmas Eve my husband and I decided to do our last Christmas shopping, with what was left of our free spending cash, we were going to do the shopping on our own but Heather and Alex (my brother and sister-in-law) decided we make this a group outing, so we waited and left for the mall in one car, we were planning to go to a mall close by but on the last minute Alex and Heather said we should skip the little mall and we took the off ramp to the big mall a little further away…………… now this is were our story begins

  • 1st blessing….. The mall was surprisingly quiet!!!! We had missed the flurry of crazy shoppers and breezed from one store to the next without any problems!!!

  • 2nd blessing we found the most beautiful gifts for the girls and Aunty Heather and Uncle Alex decided that one gift was just not enough!!!! So we left the store with so much more than we expected

  • 3rd …blessing Ashley got hungry!!!! Yes only my husband would feel hungry after having breakfast about and hour before we left, he was the only hungry one in the group and he made us pull off for a pits stop at a little coffee shop.

  • 4th blessing…. Leah decides to smile and wave with a gentleman and kind lady sitting at a table close by

  • 5th blessing… the gentleman walks over to our table and hands Leah the cutest soft toy and says that she has been smiling with them all this time and he just feels the need to give her the little toy dog as a early Christmas gift, I was so touched that a stranger could be so kind, I then go over and thank him and the kind lady and at the same time I hand him the web address for our blog

  • 6th blessing… a few minutes passes by and the gentlemen returns to our table, this time he takes out a role of money and says that he feels he need to bless our family with this cash and he puts the money in my hand gets up and walks away, now by this time I am in shock my husband has no expression on his face, I don’t know what to say, this time I go over to them and ask them why??? They don’t know me?? What stranger just gives money away??? He introduced himself as Steve from Ambassadors for Christ now when he said that I had goose bumps all over!! The lady who’s name is Heather had tears in her eyes and all she said was “Because you were obedient to God and kept Leah he will always provide just carry on and trust God he is real” Steve then tells me a story of how they were not suppose to be in Cape Town, they were actually visiting friend in Durban who decided to bring them along to Cape Town for a holiday!!! I am so overwhelmed by what happened and I thank them and walk back to my table

  • 7th blessing Steve returns to my table and says that God had spoken to his heart while I was holding Leah and speaking to them at their table and he handed us another role of cash, he smiles wished us a merry Christmas and walked back to his table.

We were not suppose to go to that specific mall in the first place, we had such a huge breakfast before we left I could not understand how Ashley got hungry so quickly and our plan was not to stop for any snacks bcause we had limited time to do our shopping!!

God blessed us with two thousand rand in cash, two thousand we never had when we started our day!!! I only realized after everything took place Leah was so happy and friendly, she blew a kiss at Steve and Heather as we left the coffee shop and its not like  Leah to be so friendly with strangers, but obviously she saw more than strangers…  im sure she knew what God was doing through these people.So I sit here today replaying the events of Christmas Eve over and over in my head….. And I’m speechless, as to what can only be the work of God….. I know now without a doubt that God has a plan for our family, we just have to trust him; he used two complete strangers to erase whatever doubt was left in my mind…. How awesome is our God!!!


When strangers become special friends

In February this year a local baby magazine decided to print a story I wrote about my life with Leah, my aim was to give people hope and inspiration, I wanted the public to realize that having a special child no matter what condition it may be does not mean you have to shy away from society, and I wanted people to know that how we raise our children today will determine who they will become in the future….. and that is strong willed, individuals who will be an inspiration to others.

I received loads of e-mails from people who were really touched by Leahs life and  at the same time I realized that God really works in mysterious ways, I never thought that my experience with Leah would have touched so many people and given so many special mums inspiration to carry on.

One special lady named Jacky decided to stay in contact with me, and has become a blog fan as well!!!. She has two beautiful Daughters named Jorja and Clio.

I think I am truly blessed, because if it was not for Leah, I would not have met the people I know today……….. complete strangers who have become special friends, who share, support and inspire one another to carry on.

Thanks Jacky for all you kind words, you too are a super mom, and special friend.

Jacky,Clio 8 years old and baby Jorja 10 months