WICHITA, Kansas – Gwen and Scott Hartley have three children. Their eldest Cal was born healthy 14 years ago. Claire was born with microcephaly, and five years later, not yet born, Lola was diagnosed as well.
The Hartley’s shared their story with KSN News and shared why, despite the hardships, they say their family is perfect.
At 26 weeks pregnant with their third child, Gwen and Scott were told their baby had microcephaly.
It was the second time they’d been given that news, they remember laughing out of shock.
“We laughed, and then within 30 seconds, we were bawling. It was bawling for the second loss of a dream, but also just knowing that your life would never be the same, and we’d already felt that once,” said Gwen Hartley, mother.
The girls can’t talk and need constant care, but they have personalities all their own.
Claire is more relaxed, while Lola is a bit of a thrill seeker.
“They’re very opinionated little girls, and we connect on a soul level with the girls. There’s almost a knowing without even having to say anything.”
It’s one of many things that Gwen and Scott have learned as parents of children with special needs.
“Obviously, nobody wishes this on their kids, but at the same point, they’ve changed me more than I could ever imagine,” said Scott.
Claire and Lola’s microcephaly is genetic, but with the Zika virus launching microcephaly into the spotlight, the Hartleys have a message for those affected.
“You can still be happy. We’re living a life that we love even though we’re dealing with microcephaly, and we have for 15 years. I think that their babies are going to change them in ways similar to the way our girls changed us.”
They say it’s important to celebrate the small successes, and although their lives may be atypical, in the end, they say they’re just like any other parents.
“I’m just really happy I have the family I have.”
“We love our kids, I don’t think we’re doing anything differently than anybody else.”
The severity of microcephaly can vary. The Hartley girls are considered more profoundly affected ,and their doctors still haven’t found the gene that led to their disorder.
If you’d like to learn more about them, find a link to their blog by clicking here.