My name is Veronique Walraven. My husband, Alastair and I are the parents of a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter.
Our daughter Terra was born with Achondroplasia. Terra is the first person in our family with this condition. We live in a thinly populated and remote area in the West Highlands of Scotland where Terra goes to the local school (total school roll is 25).
When we were expecting Terra we knew from scans that something was ‘wrong’ with our baby and the doctors prepared us for the worst. While this was going on, we moved from the Netherlands to where we live now. It was a very stressful time. Shortly after Terra was born in Queen Mothers in Glasgow, she was whisked away for tests and we had a diagnosis the same day.
After all the anxiety of the pregnancy, we felt really relieved that it was ‘just’ Achondroplasia. The next day we got a visit from an endocrinology consultant from Royal Hospital for Sick Children Yorkhill who really put us at ease by telling us that Terra will be able to have a fulfilling life like any other child.
When Terra was three she still didn’t walk, which gave us some concern and she was referred to have a MRI scan. The scan proved that there were no nerve trappings and we just needed to give it more time. And indeed 3 months later, she started to walk.
In her last year of nursery, the nursery building was getting renovated. Because the renovations were only going to take three weeks, the teachers – with the permission of the parents – decided to do all the nursery sessions outdoors, either in our local allotments or in a forest nearby. In the end, the renovations lasted three months and Terra and the other nursery kids had three months of outdoor school. This made a huge difference in her mobility and independence.
Terra still gets annual check-ups in Yorkhill, Glasgow and we get excellent support from specialists closer by who organised our house to be adapted. We now have low and high light switches all through the house, a low bannister at the stairs, an up-and-down sink which works with an electric lever, and a wet room.
Terra is a very beautiful girl and because of her size she gets a lot of attention from outsiders but in our home we make a point of giving our son Indigo the same amount of attention as Terra.