2-year-old Ireland Nugent (Photo courtesy of WTSP)
TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. -- So far, Ireland Nugent has been wearing her prosthetic legs -- decorated with Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse -- for half an hour to an hour at a time.
Today, that all changes. Less than three months after the lawnmower accident that caused the 2-year-old to lose her feet, her mom, Nicole, says she's now clear to wear them full-time and go full speed ahead.
"Happy" is a word few toddlers might use to describe a trip to a doctor's office, but it's what Ireland said when I asked her how she felt about seeing Dr. Daniel Chan at Florida Orthopedic Institute for a checkup.
Holding one of her prosthetic legs, she said with a smile, "Dr. Chan, I got this."
Her family is thrilled for her next step.
"This is a day we've been waiting for, when we knew she could wear her legs full-time and start resuming as much of a normal life as possible," Nicole Nugent says.
Ireland's big sister, Gigi, is excited to help put on Ireland's prosthetics, though she says she was scared at first.
"Give me your leg! Give me your leg, baby!" she said to Ireland during Friday's doctor's appointment.
"I want to do it," Ireland replied.
Just weeks ago, Ireland took her first steps with her new legs. On Friday, she was busy impressing doctors as she stepped on a stool without assistance.
"Ireland's doing great," Dr. Chan says. "You can just see it in her spirits, and clinically, her legs look awesome. There isn't an issue. Now it's just the therapy part, getting her used to her prosthetics and starting to walk."
The Nugents have helped create a website to support Ireland and keep people updated on her progress and upcoming events.
The family measures milestones, like Friday's accomplishment of being able to wear prosthetics full-time. They also measure times of the year, like the 4th of July, the first holiday passed since the lawnmower accident.
"I often wonder when that will stop for us," Nicole says. "This is our first 4th of July, we have our first Christmas and Thanksgiving, but then as time goes by, I think it'll just be second nature to us."
On Friday, Ireland wore a dress sent to her by a fan on her Facebook page. Her family knows her journey to healing has been full of community support, and they're paying it forward.
Last month, a little girl named Ella Rose was hurt in a riding lawnmower accident in Tennessee. Nicole says she has been talking with Ella's mother and hopes to offer her guidance based on Ireland's experience.
Next week, Ireland and her family will head to Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates in Orlando, where Ireland received her prosthetics, to get new, carbon fiber feet that will be lighter and easier to walk in.