When Robert Hoge entered the world forty-four years ago, he was thrown into a difficult situation. Because Hoge did not look like every other baby, his mother was shocked when she saw him. He was born with a tumor on his face that was as large as a tennis ball. While a tumor that size is large for anyone, it is extremely big when it is sticking out of the face of a little newborn baby.
Not only did Hoge have a massive tumor on his face, but he was also born with deformed legs. The appendages were in such bad shape when he came out of his mother that doctors had little choice but to amputate them. So that’s what they did. Not only was Hoge born looking different from the other children in the hospital and across Australia, but he also lost his legs shortly after his birth.
In the days after he was born, Robert Hoge’s mother was stunned. She did not want to look at her baby boy. She did not want to take him home and give him the good life she had promised to him every night when she spoke to him while he was growing inside her body.
Although Robert’s mother struggled with him as a baby, he wants everyone to know that she’s not a villain. There were a number of complicated reasons that she struggled with him the way he was, why she was unable to accept him as the perfect child he was.
Robert Hoge was the fifth child in the family. The four who had come before him were all healthy and “normal” in their mother’s eyes. But Robert was different. And because his mother was so shocked by how he looked, at one point she wished that he would simply die. She wanted him out of her life.
In a candid conversation with her sister, his mother said, “He is so ugly.”
As time passed, his mother changed. She grew to accept the way Robert looked, and her love for him grew, exponentially. After a meeting that included the entire family, Robert’s parents and his four siblings all agreed that they wanted Robert to come home and live with them.
Although it was decided, his mother was worried sick. She feared that Robert would be bullied all his life. Because he looked different than others, he’d be ridiculed and attacked over his appearance.
At one point, Robert’s doctors encouraged his mother to keep a diary. That’s how he knows so much about what she was thinking during his early years. She wrote it all down on paper.
“Every now and then I’d ask mum to read me a bit from her book. And so she was really open and honest in that book about her feelings about me, and she was really open and honest with me from a very young age about her feelings.”
Although life was tough for Robert, knowing that his family had chosen to keep him despite the way he looked gave him hope for the future. He was loved despite it all. Because of his family’s support, he grew up to be a good man, becoming a husband father by the time he turned thirty.
In 2013 he wrote a memoir about his life called Ugly.
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