35 and Born Just Right

by katbonorchis on February 20, 2013 · 10 comments

in 2013,Living Born Just Right

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I’d love to introduce you all to a new contributor to Born Just Right. Her name is Kathryn and I’m going to let her introduce herself. I’m thrilled to have an adult with a limb difference offer a perspective I can’t offer on this site. I have the special needs parenting perspective, Jordan has the special needs kid perspective… but Kathryn knows what it’s like to be an adult with a limb difference. I’ll let her tell you more. -Jen
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Hi!  My name is Kathryn.  I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and lawyer.  Jen has invited me to share my story and experiences on her blog, and I am grateful and thrilled she has given me this very special opportunity to contribute to the Born Just Right community.

It seems fitting to start from the beginning.  I was born in 1978, back when there were no 3D or 4D ultrasounds, and I imagine any ultrasounds my mother received lacked the clarity and quality we benefit from today.  So my parents had no warning, no time to prepare.  It makes me sad to think of what they must have gone through when I was born.  They were probably sad, scared, confused and uncertain of what the future would hold for their first child.  There was no Internet, no online community of parents who could answer my parents’ questions or help them raise a child who was different.  Growing up, there were no other kids like me.  My parents and I didn’t have other families we could relate to or reach out to for comfort and guidance.  I wish my adult self could go back to 1978 and tell them, “I promise, everything is okay!  I will have a great life!  Just give me lots of love and try not to drop me on my head!”

When I was delivered, the doctor told my father I had a “scar.”  Wrong.  My father noticed that, in fact, I did not have a scar.  Instead, I was born without my right arm.  The doctors guessed there must have been a blood clot that stopped my arm from growing in the womb.  Wrong.  It was only a few years ago that an experienced doctor informed me that what happened to me was called amniotic band syndrome.  Fluid from the amniotic sac forms a band, which can wrap around a limb and cut off its growth.   When I learned that I thought, “Finally, an explanation that makes sense!”

My parents and I have never talked about what they were thinking or feeling after I was born, but they raised me to believe I could do anything.  I was also blessed with a younger sister who helped me in any way she could and has always supported me.  My parents arranged for me to have prosthetics from an early age, but for as long as I can remember, I have never relied on prosthetics to help me.  They were always noisy, uncomfortable, and slow.  Make me a prosthetic that is as fast and efficient as my left hand, and then we can talk.  For now, my current prosthesis is purely cosmetic.

I grew up aware I was different but not dwelling on it.  There is a song from “Annie Get Your Gun” titled “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).”  Well, I may not be able to do anything you can do better, but I can do anything you can do.  There are very few things I truly cannot do (some things, like sewing buttons, I choose not to learn how to do, and leave that to my husband).  I’m not saying I don’t face challenges.  I face a lot of challenges.  But I always find a way.  For example, raising a child is challenging for any parent, but I face a few extra challenges.

Recently, I had the good fortune to be introduced to the Born Just Right community.  It is wonderful to have an outlet for parents of children with limb differences and adults like myself to share their experiences, questions and fears.  As I started reading about Jordan and how the blog came to be, I was instantly amazed and in awe of what Jen was doing for her daughter.  I was even more amazed by Jordan.  At only 7 years old, she seems totally fearless and ready to conquer the big world around her.  Jordan is a true inspiration.  The name of the blog says it all.  “Born Just Right.”  What a wonderful way for Jen to describe not only her daughter, but every person.  Another term I love, which I have never used, is “limb difference.”  I have always focused on what I am NOT.  I am not disabled, handicapped, a freak, weird, abnormal or incomplete.  I do not have a “condition.”  I am not “the girl with one arm.”

I’m just me.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim February 20, 2013 at 7:25 am

Hi, Kathryn,
My daughter was born in 1970 without a left hand. There was no ultrasound at all then, at least the option was not offered to me at the time. We were scared and confused and guilty! Her father had just returned from Vietnam and there was some discussion about Agent Orange as a cause, and as a mother, I just couldn’t help wondering if I had done something to cause it. I wasn’t sad, though. The first thing I said when I saw her was ” Well, it could have been worse.” Still groggy from the anesthetic, ( they did that then ) I decided to dedicate myself to be a positive advocate for her.

My daughter is the one who found this site and I am so grateful. Born just right was how I felt about her but I didn’t know how to put it into words.

At first, the doctors wanted to experiment on her surgically. I was pretty young and I’m glad I found the wisdom to say no. We explored the possibility of prosthetics, but when they put it on her, it just felt wrong. She has a wrist joint and I just couldn’t see the point.

The attitudes of people around us varied from pity to ” You better keep her in long sleeves.” I knew that she was born just right, however, and I wanted to encourage her to be a confident person who didn’t feel she was defined by her hand, much less ashamed of it.

Today, she is a beautiful woman with three children of her own. She greets life head on and I am so proud of her. She learned to ride a motorcycle! She is just who she is.

I’m glad times have changed, and I applaud Jen for doing what I would have if the technology had existed then.

NubAbility Athletics Foundation February 20, 2013 at 7:46 am

Thanks Kathryn and Jen for such a great piece. Kathryn has the NA attitude. We LOVE how she refuses the labels!!! Gonna share on the NubAbility Page.

Jennifer Haroian February 20, 2013 at 8:39 am

I am a friend of Kathryn’s from college and I can attest that she has NEVER let anything slow her down or make her “different” from anyone else. In fact, it took me (and most other people she met!) a while to even realize that Kathryn had a prosthetic arm… I think I had to be told by a mutual friend- that is how well-integrated she is in functioning just as anyone else. She is the perfect example of how a positive attitude+self-determination= limitless possibilities!

Brian K February 20, 2013 at 9:00 am

Awesome article! You know, even though our social circles didn’t intermingle much in high school (mostly because I didn’t have a social circle!) I recall admiring Kathryn because I could tell even then that she really didn’t feel different… or if she did she certainly didn’t let on. I was there when she tried out for the basketball team. (Basketball!) I was at almost every game when she was cheerleading… It was obvious that she could do anything she wanted in life with success. And now, as Facebook friends with Kathryn, and as a dad of 2 girls under the age of 3, I saw when she was expecting a baby and thought, “I cannot imagine lugging all that baby gear and keeping a kid lifted up with one arm behind my back.” It’s still a mystery to me how she does it, but I never had a doubt that she could! Thanks for sharing your story, Kathryn, and I love the “limb difference” moniker too.

Allie Shellaway February 20, 2013 at 10:40 am

I’m so proud of you for sharing your story, Kathryn! I remember when we were little and I would try to see how long I could go using only one hand, and I’d never last more than 5 minutes. You’ve been an inspiration to me my whole life, and I’m so excited that the wonderful people in this community will get to benefit from your awesomeness, too. ;) Love you!

Kimberly Cook February 20, 2013 at 11:26 am

Kathryn,
You are ‘just you’…an amazing sister, mother, daughter and friend. I am inspired by you. I am honored to be called your friend. I am ‘jealous’ that you type faster with one hand than I do with two hands! Kudos to you for joining this great community.

Tracy February 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

So glad you are here to contribute! My son and daughter have limb differences. They are amazing. So thankful to have your prespective.

Margaret Blasinsky February 20, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I am so blessed to be Kathryn’s mother. I knew from the first moment after she was born and she looked into my eyes that she was more than ok, she was perfect, and would grow up to be an amazing human being. I thank God every day for this precious gift.

Kallyn February 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm

What an amazing attitude to have! Thank you for sharing your story.

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