Feb. 21, 2013
The Machin boys are identical twins, but Harry was born with a rare disfigurement: his left eye, ear and nostril never fully developed.
Now that they are 7, Harry's face makes no difference to his twin Oliver, but their mother struggled for two years to love them equally.
"When I cuddled him for the first time, waves of terror swept over me," said Charlene Machin, 33, of Staffordshire in Britain. "How could I possibly love this little boy when he looked like this?"
"People assume that maternal instinct kicks in as soon as you hold your child for the first time -- but mine didn't," she told the Daily Mail newspaper. "I just couldn't love my son when he looked like this. Instead I just felt grief -- grief for a life that I felt had been taken from me, a normal life that should have been Harry's."
ABCNews.com talked to Machin's husband, Mark Machin, who did not want to participate in an interview. He said his wife was out of the country.
Today, her bond with Harry is loving and strong. But Machin's initial response, then her adjustment, illustrate the ways in which parents deal with the surprise of having a child who is disfigured. Advocates say that honest stories like theirs help others to accept the disabled.