I’m turning 40 years old on October 9th of this year. Two weeks ago, I found out, for the first time, why I was born with one hand. Up until then, I was raised to answer the inevitable question, “What happened to your arm?” by saying, “I was born like that.” For my parents and I, this simply meant that the answer was, “I don’t know.”
In 1972, pregnant women didn’t receive sonograms. About 2 weeks before I was born, my Mom noticed that she was leaking fluid. She ran to the doctor, who told her that she was fine, and sent her home. I now know that leaking is a sign of ABS. Something else that happened in 1972, that I think is still common in 2012, is that people were very shocked and saddened when I was born with amputations. At birth, the doctors rushed me away from my Mom, and sent her to another room, where she was alone. She delivered me much quicker than expected, and her support system didn’t have a chance to get there before I arrived. So there she was, alone in a room, wondering what was going on. A specialist whom she’d never met came in, with a very sad face. He tried his best to explain his theory about what was “wrong” with me. As he began, he tried to prepare her, by telling her that there was a problem with me. She braced herself as she expected to hear something devastating. When he said that I had a missing hand and finger….she was confused about what all the hub-bub was about. Her questions were, “Ok…but she’s ok, right? So can I see her?” The Specialist was now confused, as he expected her to be as upset as the doctors and nurses had been. She was never upset. My Mom and Dad saw nothing to be upset about. I was their first baby, and I was perfect.
This specialist at University of Maryland hospital, in 1972, explained to my Mom that somehow, I got my hands caught in the sack, maybe poked it, and it caused restrictions that amputated my right arm and the index finger on my left hand, while leaving restriction lines on 2 fingers. He mentioned something about bands, but he was foggy about it, so it wasn’t clear what he was trying to convey. All my life, other doctors have told my parents and I that none of this sounded like it made any sense. Yet 2 weeks ago, I was watching re-runs of “Grey’s Anatomy”, and a baby was getting surgery because his leg was caught in amniotic bands. I heard the actors say the words, “restrictions” and “bands”, and although I was home alone (my 3 children were at school), I yelled, “That sounds like me!” I thought maybe this was some made up, TV birth problem. Then, I remembered that it’s 2012, and I could google anything…so I did! Imagine my surprise to find a world full of information. Now I will never have to say, “I was born like that.” ever again.
This enlightenment brought a huge relief to my Mom. she said that it felt as if she knew she was innocent for 40 years, but now the verdict was in. Ever since I was a baby, people questioned her, as if there was something she had done, while she was pregnant, that caused this “problem”. She was very familiar with the stares and “looks” that I would later know too well. I am now a Conflict Resolution guru, and Inspirational Speaker. I meet and train many people. Some of them meet my Mom later (she’s in the same line of work), and question her, when I’m not around. Long ago, my mom stopped getting angry that people needed to blame someone. But when I told her about ABS, she realized that she had been living with getting her feelings hurt by strangers, for 40 years….and now she could release it! Her tears of hurt and release healed something inside both of us.
In the past 2 weeks, I’ve read lots of stories about ABS. I’m grateful that I didn’t die in the womb. I’m blessed that I have parents who refused to let me be treated as if I couldn’t do the same things other kids could do….I even learned to tie my shoes before I was 5 years old. Most of all, I am so pleased that I lived my life out loud, even when I didn’t know why I was born this way. I know that it is a part of my Purpose to be an example of how insignificant our bodies are…because our Spirits are created beautifully. I’ve certainly had my struggles with self-esteem issues. But when it came down to it, I realized that I loved having a nub, because my parents raised me to feel good about me. What made me feel bad was the way the world treated me…the pity in their eyes…as if they were glad they weren’t me. So my message to the world is, “Just being yourself defies pity and oppression.” When I am being who The Creator intends me to be, it helps other people get past their own body issues, and other challenges. People have always said things to me like, “You act like you don’t realize you are missing a hand!” Why are people amazed? Because they think that they would be more depressed, in my situation. So my Purpose it to show them that they can make it…no matter what the situation….they can shine! I am blessed to be born with a message on my body.
Thank you so much for creating this site! This is the first time I’ve told my story, without being in the dark about how it all started. 😉