A mother nicknamed her daughter ‘Baby Hulk’ after she was born with a huge chest and arms.
Armani Milby had to be delivered by emergency cesarean section 33 weeks after being diagnosed with a severe form of lymphangioma.
The rare congenital condition causes benign, fluid-filled growths in the lymphatic vessels.
This left Armani with a swollen torso, which, according to mother Chelsey, made her look like a pint-sized bodybuilder – leading her to affectionately nickname the little one Mini or Baby Hulk.
The 33-year-old said: “When I saw her I cried because I had never seen anything like that. I was just shocked.”
“But I didn’t care what she looked like, I still loved her.”
Brave Armani, now nine months old, weighed just under 11 pounds at birth – more than three times the average size of a baby at this point in pregnancy.
Chelsey said people regularly thought she was expecting triplets because of the colossal size of her belly.
Towards the end of her pregnancy, when she weighed 14.4 pounds, it became so bad that she cried daily and had difficulty moving.
“My body shut down,” she said.
“I suffered every day. I could never sleep. I was extremely sick.”
“It became more and more difficult to live life and actually breathe because I felt so uncomfortable from the fluid that kept coming out of my stomach.”
Chelsey discovered her daughter had lymphangioma after an ultrasound at 17 weeks.
Doctors were concerned about possible fluid around her heart and possible future breathing or vision problems, but the family held out hope for the unborn child.
Fortunately, it is now believed that Armani’s condition can be treated with surgery.
Chelsey, from Campbellsville, Kentucky, US, said: “I had never heard of the diagnosis before and to be honest I didn’t really like the results of some of the pictures after looking at them.”
“I was devastated, heartbroken and I didn’t understand what had happened because I had two other healthy babies, so I cried every day.”
“We were told about abortions but we never thought about it. We just wanted to know how we could help her with her birth.”
“[Doctors] literally gave her a zero percent chance; They said she wouldn’t make it and probably wouldn’t cry when she came out.
I cried when I saw her because I was shocked. But I don’t care what she looks like, I still love her
But at 33 weeks Chelsey had a caesarean section and Armani was born crying.
“It was a surprise to everyone,” she said.
“I screamed and cried. I was just a wreck, it was terrible.”
“In the back of our minds, Armani’s father Blake and I were wondering what would happen.
“However, she just shocked us all and proved us all wrong.”
“Everyone in the room was emotional. It’s a very magical story.”
After Armani’s birth, the family moved more than 100 miles to Cincinnati, Ohio, to live in a specialty hospital for three months.
Despite all odds, the boy slowly began to recover.
Chelsey said: “I struggled really hard with postpartum depression and had to push it aside to try and be the strongest person I could be for her and my other two children.”
“It’s been a rollercoaster and I still struggle a little bit every day.”
Armani has had large amounts of excess fluid removed from her body, but she still has excess skin.
She weighs 1.7 pounds and wears clothes made for babies twice her age.
An operation is now planned for the toddler this year, during which doctors will remove additional lymphatic vessels in order to make her body smaller.
She then needs surgery to remove the remaining skin.
“We LOVE YOU SO MUCH”
Chelsey is pleased with her daughter’s progress so far and sees a bright, pain-free future for her.
“Now she’s soft, I just call her my little soft baby. She is doing very well,” she said.
“She has a lot of extra skin, but it will all go away and she will be a normal looking baby.”
“She was lucky. She’s not deformed or anything.”
“She is happy. She rarely cries unless she wants to be held.”
“We’re trying to do everything we can for this baby and give him the best life possible.”
“Finally she turned around and tried to say ‘Mom.’ I’m pretty sure she’s pretty close.
“She is doing wonderfully. She is literally my miracle baby and we just love her so much.”
Lymphangiomas, also called lymphatic malformations, are benign cysts that occur in lymphatic vessels.
They most commonly occur in the head or neck.
Healthline estimates that the condition affects one in 4,000 births.
What is a lymphangioma?
Lymphangiomas, also called lymphatic malformations, are benign, fluid-filled cysts that occur in lymphatic vessels.
These contain a substance called lymph, which helps properly regulate fluid in body tissues and fight infections.
Lymphangiomas most commonly occur in the head or neck area, but can occur anywhere in the body.
Initially they may appear as tiny red or blue dots, but can develop into significant and deforming swellings and masses.
They usually appear at birth or two years of age.
There are several potential health complications, such as difficulty speaking, double vision, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.
Treatment typically includes surgery, sclerotherapy, laser therapy and/or radiofrequency ablation.
The disease is estimated to affect one in 4,000 births.