A couple are adjusting to the realities of raising a blind child after they discovered their new baby was born — without eyes.
Nicole Martinez, 25, and her fiancé Kalani Prior, 34, were heartbroken to discover that their son Jackson did not have a left eye socket during their 32-week scan.
But it wasn’t until their son was born that doctors realized that 7lb12oz Jackson was completely blind, as his right eye had also not developed as it should.
Baby Jackson was also born with an enlarged valve in his heart and was rushed to the NICU as soon as he was delivered on April 9.
Jackson’s heart condition has resolved itself and doctors at Albuquerque Presbyterian Hospital now hope genetic tests will shed some light on why his eyes did not develop in the womb.
Stay-at-home mom Nicole and Kalani, a restaurant manager, introduced baby Jackson to their sons Michael, 12, and Mason, 14 months, for the first time last weekend.
Now that Jackson has settled into the family’s home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, the couple have begun planning to cope the tot’s special needs.
Nicole said: “I knew during that scan that something was wrong. The doctor began to speak to me about Jackson’s orbis and I had no idea what he was talking about.
“I finally asked him, ‘But what does that mean’, and he told me that he didn’t think Jackson had a left eye socket or an eye.
“It was a really, really sad thing. You go to those appointments and expect them to be happy and to get news like that is difficult.
“I was by myself, and just didn’t know how I was going to tell Kalani. I didn’t know how to give him that news.”
Kalani said: “Jackson was born by c-section.
“When they took him away to clean him up I could see in the nurse’s eyes that there was something wrong.
“We had been prepared that he wouldn’t have a left eye.
“The nurse, she felt his right eye and even though he had a socket there, she didn’t think he had an eye.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to go back to that table and tell Nicole that news.
“All along we thought he would have one good eye, that he would still be able to read, that he would still be able to see the world.
“So having a different reality placed in front of us was really hard to cope with.
“Jackson had other issues as well.
“When my wife was pregnant, they could see that he had a heart problem.
“One of his valves was a lot bigger that it should have been.
“When he was born this was still significantly enlarged and there was a fear that he might have to have heart surgery.
“Luckily, the valve has reduced in size since then. This has been a complete relief.”
Kalani and Nicole said explaining Jackson’s condition to their eldest son was difficult, but the 12-year-old has been a huge support to his parents.
Nicole said: “Michael is such a supportive child and he treats Jackson just the same as his other brother.
“He had a lot of questions, some of them we don’t have the answer to yet, but he was really excited for us to bring Jackson home last week.”
The parents have already been in touch with Albuquerque’s School for the Blind to prepare for Jackson’s future, and hope to commence testing to establish if the tot has a genetic condition.
The positive couple also has an appointment to meet with doctors to see if Jackson is a candidate for prosthetic eyes, which would help his facial structures develop as normal.
Kalani said: “I’m a big believer in staying positive, and since he was born, we have made an effort to stay as optimistic and positive as we can.
“The doctors think it could be that he’s missing certain chromosomes so he will be having genetic testing over the next couple of months.
“I’m a big planner.
“I’ve already arranged to meet with the School for the Blind in Albequeque, it’s important to us to be as prepared as possible.
Nicole added: “When Kalani told me Jackson didn’t have his eyes, I just felt really sad for him.
“I’m so joyful to have a beautiful new baby, but it’s emotional. I go back and forth a lot.
“But you know what, he won’t know any different as a baby, and we just want to take every step we can to make sure he has the best life possible and be as positive as we can for him.”