Jessica’s ABS Story

My name is Jessica and I was born in 1984 with amniotic band syndrome. It affected both of my hands and feet and I also have club foot. I’ve had a total of about 6 surgeries between my hands and my feet. All were done within the first few years of my life. My index and middle fingers on my right hand were webbed together and separated in one of the surgeries. I have quite a bit of scaring.

As far as my hands go, I can pretty much function like everyone else. I cannot stand on my feet for long periods of time without extreme pain; and this forced me to find a desk job. I had a great childhood, which I owe all to my parents for raising me to believe in myself and be proud of who I was, defects and all. Not to say it was all easy. I was only teased a handful of times, but kids were always rude and asking me what happened to my hands. Sometimes it just got annoying but I learned to cope. When I did get made fun of it was usually behind my back and a friend would end up telling me about it. I learned that when I was getting picked on to simply ignore the person and pretend like they weren’t even talking. People make fun of you to see your reaction. They want you to get really angry or cry. By ignoring them they knew they couldn’t get me to break so they stopped bugging me. Of course a few times I went home and balled my eyes out, but how could I not?? I wasn’t popular but had a good circle of friends, and I would not have wanted it any other way.

I was very fortunate because it just so happened that my Father’s first cousin’s wife had been born with deformed hands and feet, not caused by ABS, but by a genetic defect. She got this from her father and passed it on to 3 out of her 4 children. So I grew up always knowing that I was not the only person who had this problem.

I’ve worked at a grocery store and a bank, through those few small years I have met many people with many different kinds of defects, including hand deformities.Some were very open and wanted to talk about what we had in common, others simply didn’t say anything, and I figured it was due to being self conscious, but I didn’t care.

It is still hard for me sometimes, if a child or adult is rude to me or stares.But the truth is,and I hate to be so blunt, but there are many people in this world that are just stupid and ignorant. They don’t think about how their curiosity can hurt someone’s feelings. And maybe they just think “different” people are okay to make fun of because something about us looks “funny”, but like I said, its ignorance.

I recently married and definitely want children someday. It is sort of a relief to know ABS is not genetic, but even if it was that wouldn’t stop my husband and I from having kids. There is so much that can go wrong, you just thank God everyday for what you DO have. I think my experiences with being “different” will help me be a better parent. I’ve developed a very deep empathy for others who are “different”. Whether it is a physical or mental disability, I feel connected to those people; I have a good idea what they are going through and how they feel.I would always love to chat with anyone who has ABS, or has a family member with it. It’s just important to know that your not the only one out there… and that you are very special!!!