first stepsA toddler's first steps mark an exciting occasion for every family. But when you've been told that your child will never walk? Those first steps are gold. Hannah Dewhurst's parents were told she would never walk. The 3-year-old girl has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, and for her that means not being able to feed herself or talk. She also has a cleft palate and is the size of an 18-month-old. As a baby she almost died.

But somehow, Hannah defied doctors' predictions and took her first steps. Her mother, Anna Dewhurst, describes what it's like to witness this wonderful surprise. "She will take just little steps. It was absolutely amazing to see her walking. It makes me very emotional as we didn’t know if she would ever walk."

How sweet, to see your daughter reach a milestone your doctors said she'd never reach. Maybe Hannah is stronger than everyone thought.

Having a disabled child means balancing between disappointing lows and thrilling emotional highs. My youngest sister has cerebral palsy. She can't feed herself or walk -- and it's so difficult for her to talk. My mother has a neighbor who is always chirping out, "You'll walk someday! You will!" And it kind of makes me angry. (My sister is in her 20s now.) But every milestone my sister has reached has still been a major triumph -- and my mother cherishes every day with her.

No matter how small, every new skill a disabled child learns is a victory for her and her parents. I hope this is just the first of many victories for Hannah. "The day when she gives me a proper hug and a kiss will be a very special one," Anna says. "It’s not easy having a disabled child. It’s wonderful but it is incredibly difficult."

Have you seen children exceed their doctors' predictions?

 

Image via Dermot O'Halloran/Flickr