A mother whose baby was born with severe facial deformities has revealed that cruel online trolls told her she should kill him after she posted pictures of the tot on social media.
Amy Ward, 24, from Illinois, gave birth to her son Elijah on January 31, 2020. He was born with a rare condition called amniotic band syndrome which occurs when there is a rupture in the sac of fluid that surrounds the baby during pregnancy, causing amniotic bands to wrap around the child. This can cause limb differences, clefts, and even death.
In Elijah’s case, the condition caused damage to his left foot, right hand, and his face, leaving him with a cleft lip and palate. It also resulted in severe microphthalmia, a developmental disorder of the eye, which caused his right eye to be a lot smaller and unable to react to light.
Brave: Amy Ward, 24, has revealed how she was attacked by trolls after sharing images of her baby son Elijah (pictured with his parents) who was born with severe physical deformities
Heartbreaking: The seven month old baby boy was diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome when Amy, from Illinois, was 20-weeks pregnant, much to his parents’ shock
When she first found out she was pregnant in April 2019, Amy was terrified because she had suffered miscarriages previously. So when she had a scan at nine weeks, she was incredibly relieved to learn that everything appeared to be normal.
Amy and her boyfriend, Dylan, 26, booked a 3D ultrasound at 16 weeks – and it was then that they learnt that something was very wrong with their baby.
The ultrasound technician said that they were having trouble identifying the baby’s sex and left the ultrasound room. When she returned, she confirmed that Elijah was a boy, but also said that she was concerned her baby might have a cleft lip and palate.
After spending four long weeks waiting for a follow-up appointment, Amy and Dylan were told that Elijah had been diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome, a condition that the couple had never heard of.
‘I was still worried about miscarrying so I decided to make an appointment at a 3D ultrasound to find out the gender of our baby when I was sixteen weeks instead of waiting until I was twenty weeks,’ said Amy.
‘At first the tech, said she was having trouble seeing the gender, so she left the room for what felt like forever and had me move around a little bit and drink some water.
‘She then said that she was also a little concerned he might have a cleft lip and palate and that we should probably call the doctor in the morning.
Warrior: Amniotic band syndrome occurs when the sac of fluid surrounding an unborn baby ruptures during pregnancy, and it causes a series of physical deformities
Overcoming obstacles: Elijah has a cleft lip and palate, and he also sustained damage to his left foot, his right hand, and his right eye, which is underdeveloped
Battle: The brave tot will have to undergo three surgeries in the next six months
‘I was devastated. I held my tears back as much as I could, but as soon as we left to go back home, I cried the entire thirty minutes home and probably all night because Google search made it way worse.
‘When Elijah was born, I was only allowed to hold him long enough to take a picture and then they transferred him to the NICU.
‘All I could think about was recovery so I could see my son’.
Deciding to show off pictures of Elijah on the social media platform TikTok, Amy said that she has been met with overwhelming support from well-wishing strangers, but has also had to endure some disgusting comments from trolls who have asked her why she didn’t abort him.
The 24-year-old says that these comments have been devastating for her because her seven month old son is such a happy baby who absolutely loves everyone he meets.
‘His first surgery is to move his nose straight, and make a new mouthpiece to fit,’ Amy said.
‘Around nine months he will have surgery to close all of his opening clefts, and he will also have an operation on his eyelids.
Devastated: Amy (pictured with boyfriend Dylan during her pregnancy) admits she was devastated when she learned about her son’s diagnosis, and she recalls crying ‘for 30 minutes’
Proud: The parents call Elijah their ‘miracle baby’ and were horrified when their son was attacked by trolls on social media
Hurt: ‘It really hurts me because he is such a happy baby and he loves everyone he comes in contact with,’ Amy said of the cruel online comments
‘Then around a year old will be his palate surgery.
‘I decided to show Elijah off on the app TikTok which has been both amazing and scary at the same time.
‘There have been so many positive comments and followers who love him, but there have also been some extremely mean comments about how I should have aborted him, how could I let him live like this or to kill him.
‘It really hurts me because he is such a happy baby and he loves everyone he comes in contact with.
‘I try not to think what people will say to his face as he is growing up.
‘When I read these comments, I felt really sad that the world is still like this.
‘Your entire life adults tell you to be different, stand out but once someone is different they feel the need to make fun of them and it is not right.
‘He’s my miracle baby and he’s loved so much.
‘He lights up any room and his laugh is contagious.’
With three surgeries scheduled for the next six months, Elijah, Amy, and Dyllan face an uncertain future and they’ve set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for the ongoing treatment.