Shouting from the side of the pool, I watched my girl Emilee, 10, zoom through the water.
‘Go Em!’ my hubby
Meeting her at the finish line, she barely had enough time to grab her towel before we smothered her in hugs.
‘I am so proud of you,’ I told her.
‘Thanks Mum, I love you,’ she smiled.
The truth was, I never thought my daughter would love me after what
I had done.
When I was pregnant with Emilee, a routine ultrasound showed a small abnormality around her right leg.
‘She will most likely have a club foot,’ our doctor said. ‘It’s nothing to stress about.’
But as a first time mum, I couldn’t shake the worry that I felt.
Needing to wait until she was born to find out the full extent of her condition, I nervously watched my growing bump.
Every day was a new emotion – excited to meet my little princess, concerned for her condition, scared of the unknown.
As soon as the tiny bundle was placed in my arms though, I instantly forgot about the looming unknowns.
‘She’s perfect,’ James and I both cooed.
But it was obvious something wasn’t right with her leg.
From her knee, down her entire leg, it looked boneless and floppy and she was whisked off for tests.
Two weeks later, we sat across from the doctor.
‘Emilee has tibial hemimelia,’ he said.
Explaining that our girl had underdeveloped bones in her leg, we were given two options.
‘Amputation in my opinion is the best option,’ he said.
‘Or?’ I asked, desperate to keep her limb.
‘As she grows, she will need to undertake numerous surgeries, but there is no guarantee they will work,’
I felt like my mind was going to explode.
‘She may never walk?’ my voice shook in fear.
Watching the doc’s head nod, I stared down at my innocent girl in my arms.
James and I got a second opinion, but that doctor broke the same news.
We were left with the hardest decision – do we cut off our girl’s leg?
As the weeks ticked by, Emilee struggled to move
and her leg just flopped behind her.
‘She won’t be able to wear high heels, she won’t be able to drive, kids will tease her,’ I rattled off my fears to James one night.
‘She’s a fighter,’ James comforted me.
‘What if she hates us?’ I cried. ‘What if she says I wish Mum never took my leg?’
As I sat on the couch, Emilee, then nine months, desperately tried to crawl across the carpet.
Frustrated, her leg dragged behind her like a dead weight.
It’s like her leg isn’t even part of her body, I thought, watching her getting angrier.
‘I think we should amputate,’ I told James.
Calling her specialist, we made the very anxious appointment and the surgery was booked in.
That night, I rocked my sweet girl to sleep.
‘Don’t hate me,’ I whispered.
A few weeks later, she was wheeled off for surgery.
Have we made the right decision? I fretted, pacing the corridors.
Eventually, the surgeon appeared.
‘Everything went perfectly,’ he told us.
Seeing my girl with one limb less, my heart was beating out of my chest, still not confident we’d done the right thing.
But when she woke, a huge smile crept up on her face.
Then, gripping onto the cot, she pulled herself up standing on her one leg.
With tear-filled eyes, I wrapped her in my arms.
Like a completely different girl, she could crawl with ease and whipped around the house like any other tot.
Six weeks later, she was fitted with her first baby pink prosthetic.
Once the tiny limb was secured in place, Emilee was fascinated by her new leg.
At home, she’d pull herself up using the coffee table.
A week before her first birthday, Emilee put her leg forward followed by her prosthetic, then she took another step and another…
‘James, she’s walking!’ I screamed into the other room.
Smothering our girl in hugs and kisses, I couldn’t believe how strong she was.
In that moment, we knew we’d done the right thing.
From then on, Emilee didn’t slow down.
Twice a year, she was fitted with a new prosthetic to keep up with her growing body.
‘I think I want rainbow this time,’ she said once.
With every new leg, came a new colour and design, from Frozen
to unicorns and even the Eiffel Tower – Emilee has had it all!
Luckily we get the legs through an NDIS allowance.
Now, with two younger brothers, Aiden, seven, and Jesse, one, Em is always running around with them.
And she loves her swimming club. Training hard, she dreams of competing in the 2024 Paralympics.
Recently, Em and I came across an amazing charity that sends outgrown prosthetics overseas to help those who can’t afford them.
So, surrounded by some of her old limbs, we snapped a picture before posting them off to benefit others who are missing a right leg.
Now looking back, I would remove Emilee’s leg a thousand times over.
So strong-willed and determined, she’s an inspiration to us all.
Nothing holds her back and I can’t wait for her to grow into the incredible woman she is destined to be.