When I was just 20 weeks old growing in mommy’s tummy I could feel her heart sink while listening to her cries as she learned that I would be born with a birth defect. Hello! My name is Dameon Hunt Jr. and I was born on August 15, 2017 to my loving parents Dameon and Shaye Hunt. I have an older sister, Kennedy, and a twin brother, Deacon, who is also my best friend. I remember playing with Deacon in the womb on many occasions. There was one game that was challenging to say the least. Jump Rope! Deacon would turn and look at me with a smile and say, “First to ten wins.” I could never beat him. It wasn’t that I couldn’t turn the rope properly. It wasn’t because I didn’t understand the rules of the game. All I had to do was make it to 10 first. How hard could that be? But for some reason or another I was never able to JUMP!
I was perplexed when I looked down to notice my legs and feet didn’t resemble my brothers. “Well that’s odd,” I thought to myself. I tapped Deacon on the shoulder and asked him, “How are you able to plant your feet flat to jump?” He looked just as confused as I did when he realized that our lower limbs weren’t similar.
“Don’t worry little brother. We will ask daddy to pull out his tool kit and fix them when we meet him. Until then keep working on your jump.” He turned and gave me the biggest high five a teammate can give!
I couldn’t help but to think, “Is this why mommy was crying? Am I not meeting her expectations? How can I fix this?” I wanted so desperately to be perfect in the eyes of my family. I couldn’t help but to think how can I make things better. So, I did what any baby would do and I concentrated on growing as healthy and strong as possible. I was determined to make daddy, mommy and big sister proud on the day of arrival.
On August 15th it was a day like no other. I was separated from my mother and no longer next to my brother. There were strangers standing around me. I was shivering as they put me under bright lights. I cried so hard until I was in mommy’s arms for the first time. She held me close and whispered to me “I love you son! Your tears are my tears!” What was she referring to? I thought I fixed my legs before I got here. I was wrapped up in a warm white blanket so I was unable to see if the situation had been reversed. It was evident that despite my physical appearance my parents loved me no matter what. To them I was perfect.
Deacon and I took pleasure in the sweet taste of mommy’s milk. It made the three of us feel as though we were still physically connected. After filling my tummy up, I drifted into a deep slumber. Suddenly, I was wakened by the cold touch of a wet towelette being ran across my body. I screamed bloody murder until the nurse put my diaper on, covered me with my blanket and placed me in mommy’s arms. Hours passed. Deacon participated in three feedings while I slept. My belly was full. I had no desire to eat. In between naps I heard the nurse ask about our feeding schedule. Mommy kindly replied, “Deacon ate forty-five minutes ago. Dameon isn’t showing interest in eating and hasn’t had anything for the past ten hours.”
“Has he passed stool since he’s been here?” the nurse questioned with a puzzled look on her face.
“Not that I can remember. His diapers have been changed by the different nurses on shift.” Mom said with concern in her voice.
I couldn’t seem to fall back asleep. So, I continued to listen. I heard the nurse tell mommy that she would ask the pediatrician to give me a full exam. Now my little brain was confused. Did I do something wrong? The doctor rushed into the room, unwrapped my blanket and gently rubbed my head as she looked at my entire body.
I never returned to the arms of my mother! I was no longer resting next to my best friend. I could no longer feel the base in my chest as my father spoke. What’s going on? Why am I being removed from the people that love me despite my physical ailments? Where am I going? Why are they poking me with needles?
Now I am sleep! Not because I fell asleep at my own will. They forced me to go to sleep! Why is this happening? I woke to find my parents standing over me. Tears filled my mother’s eyes as my father laid his hands on me to pray. At that moment he became my hero! Over the course of ten days mommy and daddy visited my bedside frequently. They fed me. They held me. They kissed me. They prayed over me. But still something was missing. Deacon. Where was he? For the first time in life I didn’t have my best friend to lean on. One morning mommy came to visit me. This visit was different. The last time I saw a smile like that on her face was the day her baby boys entered this world. She picked me up and showered me with kisses. I heard the excitement in her voice as she announced, “I hope you’re ready to see Deacon and meet Kennedy because you’re going home with me today!” Mommy quickly secured me in my car seat, fastened the seat into the car and headed home.
“Hello baby!” Kennedy yelled as she ran up to give me the biggest kiss a big sister could give. We bonded for several minutes before I was reunited with the first person I had ever known. Later that night when everyone went to sleep Deacon and I stayed up and talked all night. I asked him to update me on what happened in the hospital.
“Deacon I missed you. Why were we separated?” I asked with a look of worry on my face.
He hesitated for a moment. Then he began to explain. “Well little bro…I heard the doctors tell mommy that you have Imperforate Anus. They said to save your life you’ll need surgery.” He continued to go in detail. “They placed a temporary colostomy bag on your belly. They mentioned that it will be removed once you gain enough weight to have a reconstructive surgery.”
“Oh no! I hope mommy and daddy aren’t mad at me. I tried to concentrate on growing healthy and strong.” I didn’t want to burden my parents with more news after learning that the soles of my feet rested on my belly. Deacon reassured me that mom and dad were blessed that I was alive. Their love for me isn’t based on my health, but in fact it makes them love me that much more. “Deacon, how about a game of jump rope? First to ten wins.” He knew that was my way of asking if the doctors knew why I was unable to win a simple jump rope game.
He searched for the right words to say. “Dameon, I’m not sure if you will ever be able to jump rope with me or with Kennedy. I doubt you will be able to challenge us at a foot race.”
“What do you mean? I want to play too…” I cried.
“The doctors said you have Tibial Hemimelia.”
“What’s that?” I questioned.
“Your bones are extremely short and it’s forcing your feet to turn in.” Tears started to roll down my brother’s cheeks. “The doctors said it’s best to amputate both legs. I really want a fair challenge at jump rope, but I don’t foresee that happening.”
We both cried out in unison all night for the next three weeks. Neither one of us could come up with a plan on how we would be able to jump rope together. Daddy’s tool box didn’t have the proper tools to fix me. Mommy was busy calling doctors and researching at all hours of the night. We visited several doctors for opinions. The first doctor recommended above the knee amputation. My brother was right. They really were trying to keep us from playing together. Later that night I heard dad praying with mom. “…Lord not my will, but let your will be done. Amen.” We saw the second doctor and he recommended below the knee amputation. Before bed I heard dad praying with mom again. “…Lord not my will, but let your will be done. Amen.” The third doctor sounded as if she had more hope than the previous two. She mentioned how perfect my feet were. Her recommendation was amputation of half my foot.” I was confused as to why she would cut my feet off if she felt they were perfect. That night before bed I heard dad praying with mom. “…Lord not my will, but let your will be done. Amen.”
That same night I saw mommy pacing the room. She was in deep thought. Little did I know she started emailing doctors located in other states. She checked her emails daily for the next week until one day she held me and cried. I knew for sure at this point that I would never be able to win a simple game of jump rope. Deacon would be crowned the champion forever!
“You’re going to walk son!” She yelled. “Mommy and daddy are going to get your legs fixed!”
I turned to look at Deacon with the biggest smile on my face. “Hey! Deacon! First to ten wins…” This was the best news I’ve heard since 20 weeks of life!
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