Sunday, May 1, 2011

Are your daughter's limbs short?

The other day, I was out shopping in a Christian bookstore in the beautiful city of Sydney and for the first time ever, someone approached me about Maddy's differences. She was talking with Maddy and Maddy was smiling at her and waving her arms and legs around wildly (as she does, these days!) and the lady asked me "Are your daughter's limbs short?"

I found the phrasing of the question somewhat unusual but I answered and replied that yes, Maddy has a form of dwarfism and that's why her limbs are very short. It turns out that this mother also has a child who has had some medical complications and we both shared a little of our "medical experiences" with our kids. Although I was a little taken aback by the question, it was overall a really nice chat, short but heartfelt. Probably because the other mother has dealt with medical complications, she knew how to be tactful but wasn't scared of asking in the first place.

In Hong Kong, people so far have been much less likely to directly ask questions like that and are more likely to avoid the subject altogether, although increasingly I am aware of people looking and talking about Maddy (I know maybe they could just be talking about how gorgeous she is though). I have thought that maybe it wasn't so noticeable to others that Maddy was "different" - but I know that as she gets older it is more and more obvious to others, particularly to other people who have children of their own and know what a baby's proportions are meant to be. (On a completely unrelated sidenote, since having Maddy, I have noticed that most baby dolls have Maddy's proportions. Maybe the doll manufacturers know just how adorable babies with dwarfism are - they are SO cuddly - and that's why they make baby dolls with dwarf-proportioned arms and legs rather than "average height" proportioned arms and legs!!)

I know that the experience was the first of many. I know that as Maddy ages, many people will approach her or me and ask questions about her size. I know that these experiences will vary in the level of tact and some may be even outright rude or discriminatory - but I'm so glad that we had such a pleasant first experience :)


  1. Interesting about the baby dolls! She certainly looks cuddly!

  2. You're right about baby dolls proportions, I never noticed that before!
    I think that answer questions about Maddy could be a way to spread awareness about dwarfism.


  3. I nanny a little girl with dwarfism...its great when you get the nice people who ask questions in a nice way :)

  4. Our brains are hard-wired by Mother Nature to respond to baby-like cuteness. What looks baby-like? A disproportionately (compared to adults) big round head, round wide-set eyes, short limbs. That's why we think puppies, kittens, and chicks--not just human babies--are cute. And that's why toy makers, cartoonists, and greeting-card illustrators give their creations proportions like Maddy's--she's like a "superbaby" in the cuteness department, because the things that make babies look cute are exaggerated in her. That will change as she grows out of babyhood, but what won't change are her amazing eyes. All her photos--even as a newborn--are striking for the intensity and directness of her gaze, as if she's constantly seeking deep engagement with her surrounding world. An adorable baby now, an intelligent and connected girl in the years to come.

  5. HI Maddie
    You are an amazing brave courageous fighter, and an inspirational smilen hero!
    My name is Jenna and I am a little person. I am under five feet. This may sound strange but I have a rare life threatening bone disease, that is a form of dwarfism. Thing that is strange is I am the only one with my disease that is not a dwarf but I am still under five feet. I even have a small finger that didn't grow.
    My site is: