Today I want to share an overcoming story that is quite different than any other overcoming story we’ve ever shared. This post has been on my heart for quite some time, but one I’ve put off for one reason or another, and the biggest reason of all is because it’s quite personal and close to home.
We’ve shared many stories of other women who have overcome obstacles in their life or in their business journey, but today I’m going to share a little bit about my daughter, Nevaeh. Until now, I’ve never shared my daughter’s name anywhere online, but God has been revealing to me over the last year, that Nevaeh has an incredible ongoing overcoming story that needs to be shared. While my heart is to keep her private and all to myself, I realize that God has created her own story to be unique and powerful and I believe it can and will touch so many lives as she gets older.
I’ve asked Nevaeh to do a recording with me where I interview her and ask her questions but she seemed quite nervous to do that so I thought it might be better to write a blog post with my side of the story, as her mother, walking through the overcoming challenges.
Nevaeh was born in May of 2007. In January we had a routine ultrasound where we found out we would have a baby girl. I knew in my heart that she was a girl and we were overjoyed that God had blessed us with a little girl and her name would be Nevaeh Faith.. a name I had picked out years before I met her father. That day I went home and wrote all about the ultrasound in my journal and wrote how we had a perfectly healthy baby girl within my womb with ten fingers and ten toes. I didn’t know until the day she was born that those words were not only not accurate, but that they actually didn’t mean anything!
The moment she was born, I don’t remember anything other than being incredibly overjoyed, but also very confused. The only thing I saw was her hand and as a brand new mother, there were a million questions in my mind in one instant, yet so much love that it didn’t matter. You see, Nevaeh was born missing her left hand. Her left-hand stops just above her wrist, so she has movement of a wrist but no fingers or palm.
In the midst of those questions in my head, I knew there was nothing that could be done but of course my main concern was how this was going to affect her life. I remember being so upset that I had written the “ten fingers, ten toes” comment in my journal like it signified that my love for her was dependent on that. Oh, my goodness, gracious… it absolutely didn’t! And to this day, that statement really rubs me the wrong way, because that statement doesn’t make a bit of difference. Nevaeh has been the most amazing example to me of an overcomer and I’m so thrilled to get to share her story today.
To this day we don’t really have any clear reason for why this happened, but the belief is that it was amniotic band syndrome. You can click that link to learn more about what that means; all the medical jargon is not my strong suit. To us, it doesn’t matter why, or how, or what happened because it changes nothing. Our focus is simply how can we help her in the things that she struggles with.
What struggles has she faced?
After she was born we began visiting Shriner’s Hospital in Houston, TX, which deals with limb differences and burns, to see what could be done, if anything, to help Nevaeh as she grew. We learned that she could get a prosthetic but it would be purely for looks and not functional, so we opted to forgo any prosthetic so she could get used to and use her hand as best she could.
It wasn’t until she was about 4 that we began seeing a few things that she started struggling with. I kid you not, this kid could do things that no one else could with one hand because she literally had no other option. Where the struggles came in were when she started to have to zip and button her pants. She would get so so frustrated and tell me she couldn’t do it. Right then and there we made a statement that we will not say that we can’t do things, but we just may have to do them differently than others. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still get frustrated and say she can’t do something, but we always point her back to say she can do it, and let’s figure out a way to get it done. It took her quite a bit of struggling and time to get her zipper and button but I’m pleased to tell you that today this isn’t an issue at all for her because she persevered through it.
Another issue that was quite difficult for us to overcome was tying her shoes. As her mother, who has two hands, I honestly didn’t know how to teach her how to tie her shoes with one hand. I simply began praying that God would somehow show me a way to teach her so she wouldn’t be embarrassed to ask for help when all her friends knew how to tie their shoes.
A few months later I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack and as I was checking out, there was this man who had the exact same hand as my daughter. I didn’t know how to start the conversation but I prayed for the words. I simply said, “My daughter has a hand just like yours and I’ve never met anyone, ever, that was born the way my daughter was.” This man looked up at me with the most tender heart and began asking questions about my daughter. He then asked me if there was anything he could help with and if she was struggling with anything. I began telling him that she really has a hard time with her shoes, but I didn’t know how to teach her. He then turned around and told his manager that he would be back, went to the back of the store to get black shoes with white shoelaces (so we could see the laces), sat down, and told me to begin recording a video. He proceeded to teach me and Nevaeh how she could tie her shoes with one hand, not once but twice in that video. Y’all, when I left the store that day I was a bumbling mess. I couldn’t contain my excitement, my joy, and my amazement at what just happened.
When I got home, I showed Nevaeh the video. She watched it over and over, and within 30 minutes she was tying her shoes for the first time ever. The first time ever people!!!!
A few weeks later I took Nevaeh back to Nordstrom Rack so she could meet Kevin, the amazing young man who recorded that video for her, and she walked right up to him and said “Hi Kevin. I’m Nevaeh.” For a moment he was very confused, but he then realized who she was and was overjoyed to meet her. We thanked him again for his time and heart in helping us and got his number should we ever need any help in the future. Y’all, just telling you that story has my heart bursting with so much joy! God is so good!
Can anything help her?
A few years ago, there was an article in the news about a girl who had a missing part of her arm and she had a 3D printed hand that she could use. The moment Nevaeh saw this, she wanted one. We spent years researching, reaching out to people, sending email after email, and every time the door slammed in our face. Nevaeh would get on the iPad and watch video after video of children with 3D printed hands that operate by bending the wrist to pull down the fingers to grab things. She would ask me all the time if there was any progress and my heart would break every time I had to tell her no.
Fast forward to just a few months ago when I was in her ballet studio and learned that one of the kids there had printed a 3D fidget spinner for someone. I immediately began asking questions and wanted to know more to see if the type of 3D printer he had could potentially print a 3D hand for Nevaeh. I didn’t even get to that point when a mother at the ballet studio approached me and asked “Are you Nevaeh’s mom?” and I looked at her and said “Yes!” She then pulled me aside and told me that her son had been working on a project for Nevaeh for the last 6 months but wasn’t sure how to approach us about it. Knowing that she was the mother of the young man who had made the fidget spinner, I immediately knew where she was going with this conversation and I COULD NOT believe it! While we had been praying for some answers regarding this 3D printed hand that Nevaeh so desperately wanted, little did we know that Ethan, the young man at the ballet studio, was at home printing samples of 3D printed hands to see if they’d help her. Just typing that out here literally gives me goosebumps.
A few days later Nevaeh had ballet again and Ethan and his mother surprised us with a printed model that Nevaeh could try out for functionality and sizing before we left for a vacation. Nevaeh was more excited than I’ve ever seen her and I was doing everything I could to hold it together because all I wanted to do was sob with gratefulness. After that meeting, Ethan moved at a record pace and printed a model that was the proper size for her so that she could have it on our trip.
We took that model on our trip and Nevaeh wore it non-stop and was beside herself with excitement. She began learning how it works, how it can help her, and how we can improve it to really be beneficial to her. It’s definitely a lot more work than she anticipated because in order to close the fingers she has to bend her wrist against pressure which she isn’t quite used to doing. That’s been quite a learning experience for her. Overall though, she has been absolutely thrilled with her 3D printed hand and we are so grateful for Ethan and his family, for their servants’ hearts and listening to the Lords call for them to help in this area of Nevaeh’s life.
When Nevaeh was little and we would go to parks and times where she played with other children, we began seeing what other children would say to her and how she can respond to them. We simply told her to say “God just made me this way” and to this day, that’s her standard response.
One thing she absolutely hates is when people tell her that her “hand looks like a foot”. Her hand has tiny little nubs which is why children tend to say this, and early on this really broke my heart for her. This has become very common for children to say, so she has learned her response to it, but that doesn’t mean that the comment doesn’t hurt her a little. We’ve talked at length about removing the nubs on her left hand, but ultimately feel it needs to be a decision she makes as she gets older because once it’s done you can’t go back.
At school, she has simply been accepted and loved by her classmates and will gladly answer any questions that anyone has for her.
Nevaeh has had a lot of challenges to overcome, and she will have many more as she grows into an adult, but she will overcome them all in her own way. She may have to do them differently than you and I, and it might take her twice as long, but she will overcome them because giving up isn’t an option.
Nevaeh has blessed my life in ways that I never knew she could and has shown me Gods goodness in flesh form, and I, Lauren Gaige, am proud to have been chosen to be her mother.