New Zealand's smallest couple have an extra reason to celebrate this Christmas after welcoming a beautiful baby girl into their family.
Having waited to find out the gender, Maddi and Rawiri Cherrington couldn't be happier finding out they are parents to daughter Amaia Elizabeth Grace and have dubbed themselves the "Three Amigos".
Both diagnosed with achondroplasia, the most common type of short-limbed dwarfism, neither knew the full extent of the condition, if they would require medical help in falling pregnant or even if their dream would become a reality.
Needless to say, the couple from Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands were over the moon welcoming Amaia, who is also a dwarf, on April 3 at Auckland City Hospital.
"I woke from the surgery to her lying on me and I can't even begin to describe how it felt," recalls a teary Maddi. "We didn't know what we were having, so that was my first question. It was a very surreal experience, and it felt like I would move heaven and earth for her."
Adds the doting dad, "I was speechless, thinking that I would never be in this position, holding my very own baby."
With doctors unable to determine if the pair would be able to conceive naturally, carry a baby full-term or even the chances of her leading a healthy life, Maddi's pregnancy came with extra stress.
She underwent a planned Caesarean, but was not able to be awake for the surgery, and her devoted husband, a supermarket worker, was not able to join her in theatre.
But coming out of sedation to find him by her side, gazing adoringly at their new family member, she knew everything was going to be OK.
"She was Ra all over when she was born," smiles Maddi. "Now that she's a bit older, she is a good mix of both of us. My mum says she reminds her of me as a baby."
The first to admit new motherhood is a challenge, Maddi says it's the unexpected things she has struggled with the most.
"It is hard," she shares. "No-one tells you what to expect – I don't think anyone knows themselves. Going from just us, to having this tiny human relying on us, is huge.
"One of the biggest things I didn't expect early on is literally everyone constantly stopping us in the street to look at the baby. As a first-time mum, this was very overwhelming."
Maddi says she understands the curiosity is coming from a good place and that people just wanted to know if she was "little like us". However, good intentions took its toll.
"It became very tiring," she explains. "But it's much better now she is older – she is a social butterfly."
In the throes of planning their first Christmas as parents, Maddi insists – as tempting as it may be – they won't go overboard with gifts and are hoping to join family for a camping trip.
"All we want is for her to live a healthy, happy life free from judgement and know that she is loved."
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