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
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.