Limb deficiency: I was told to have an abortion


  Picture: April Autumn Ashlyn Family Photography


When you’re expecting a baby, you don’t often think of all tiny things that could go wrong. Most people are expecting to be handed a perfectly healthy bub with 10 fingers and 10 toes.

Anastasia Hookway and her husband, Greg, had a different experience when their daughter, Poppy, suffered a rare injury in the womb. They’ve shared their story with Kidspot.

A precious first baby

Anastasia, 23, and Greg, 25, from Wagga Wagga in NSW, were preparing for the birth of their first child the same way anyone else would. They bought adorable clothes, set up the nursery and read up on looking after a newborn.

“We were so excited, we’d even picked out our baby names,” Anastasia said.

They were counting down the days until their bundle of joy arrived, but when the 20-week morphology scan rolled around they were hit with some terrifying news.

An abnormality on the scan

At their hospital, their doctors became concerned when they were unable to visualise their baby’s right hand on the screen.

It was a really big shock for Anastasia and Greg, who weren’t sure how to take the news.

“It’s a really scary thing to find out that something is wrong with your child, especially if they can’t tell you exactly what it means,” Anastasia said.

When they went to see a specialist to discuss the results they were told that there were a few possibilities for what might have caused the limb deficiency. It may have been the result of an amniotic band or blood clot, or it could be related to some other form of syndrome that would have more serious consequences for their daughter’s quality of life.

The couple was told that the safest decision at that point was to terminate the pregnancy, as there were too many unknown risk factors, which could put both Anastasia and her baby’s health at risk.

A place of indecision

In that moment, Anastasia was facing a difficult choice. The doctor’s were warning her not to take the risk but she says that termination went against her and Greg’s beliefs.

“We decided that we loved her so much already, that there was no way we were going to lose her,” Anastasia explains.

“Grieving my daughter’s missing arm left me in this raw place of indecision, but we chose not to dwell in grief and to choose to accept our daughter, no matter what challenges she would face.”

Anastasia found comfort by searching out support groups for parents of children with limb deficiencies. She came across then American run Lucky Fin Project and was inspired by their message of positivity.

“I loved the way that they focused on the beauty of being a bit different, it made me feel more confident that my daughter could still be a perfectly happy child with or without her limb.”


Poppy Hookway limb difference with bunny April Autumn Ashlyn family photography

  Picture: April Autumn Ashlyn Family Photography


An early arrival

At 32 weeks Anastasia developed preeclampsia and had to be rushed into the hospital for an emergency delivery. Baby Poppy came into the world weighing just one-and-a-half kilos but was otherwise in very good health.

Anastasia admits that she had been nervous about what her daughter’s arm might look like, but says she was surprised by her reaction.

“I did notice her little arm. But not in the way that I thought I would notice,” Anastasia recalls.

‘”What I noticed was how perfect she was, they never warned me she’d be so perfect.”


poppy-hookway-parentsPicture: April Autumn Ashlyn Family Photography


Thriving and adapting

The proud new parents were able to take Poppy home after a few weeks in the special care nursery due to her prematurity. It was determined that the most likely cause of the congenital amputation was a blood clot that formed in Poppy’s arm causing the blood flow to be cut off. Luckily there are no further complications from this and their little girl thrived and grew just like any other newborn.

“She adapted immediately, she’s never known any different so it wasn’t hard for her at all, she uses her little arm just as much as her other arm,” Anastasia explains.”

Poppy is now a gorgeous, happy, eight-month-old and her mum says that she has sometimes seen people stare at Poppy and notice her arm, but for the most part they are too distracted by her cuteness.

“People mostly just get lost in her beautiful blue eyes!” Anastasia laughs.




 Picture: Hi-5 for Poppy.


Different is beautiful

Anastasia and Greg want to celebrate Poppy and her ‘lucky fin,’ they want to spread the message that being different and individual is beautiful.

“A child being born with a limb difference is not tragic. It’s extremely important to show our children how capable and wonderfully made they are. If we treat them as flawed or limited that is who they will believe themselves to be- and that would be the tragedy,” Anastasia said.

Poppy is having regular visits to the Westmead Limb Clinic and will be able to receive her first prosthetic at around 12-months-old.


To follow Poppy’s journey go to Hi-5 for Poppy.