“It’s funny how you meet people in life just when you need them. Call it fate or serendipity, life puts people in your life who will impact you and become such a big part of your life, later you can’t imagine it any other way.
Shelly and I came together through what used to be an unconventional way but now is considered a great way to connect and meet people. Our mission or hope of our page is to inspire other kids and adults with a limb difference to live without fear or insecurities. That they can do anything they set their minds to, they just have to believe in themselves. That they can have a life without limbitations.
Being born with a limb difference has definitely been a unique experience of life. From the moment I was born, I had to be a fighter and I really think that fighting spirit has enabled me to use my limb difference for positivity rather than negativity. I was born in 1987, 3 days before Christmas, and my mom had no idea one of her twin babies would come out so small and without a left hand and only a thumb on her right hand.
I was whisked away to a NICU where I stayed till I graduated over a month later. My mom doesn’t talk about that moment in time very much, but as a mother myself now, I can only imagine how hard it must have been on her to have one baby at home and another in the hospital with hour-long trips to the hospital almost every day.
Eventually, I got to go home, and then it was time to live life! I had to learn how to do everything a baby does. Crawling, walking, and holding a spoon to eat. Every milestone a ‘normal’ baby achieves, I did too. I grew a little bigger and older and at age 5, I remember learning how to tie my shoes and ride a bike. I remember feeling like these tasks seemed impossible or very difficult at first but with extra help and effort, I eventually mastered those skills!
My parents did try to see if a prosthetic would help, but I found a prosthesis was more of a hindrance than a help… so it was the end of that after one took a swim in a kiddie pool. Thankfully, I had a mom who never let me give up, who taught me I could do anything I set my mind to. One of her favorite things was to tell me, ‘I think I can, I think I can,’ like Thomas the Train. I really believe teaching me this mindset along with an inherited strong will and independence made me who I am today.
I grew up learning to adapt and overcoming any challenges. I loved to do things like any other kid. From singing, dancing, go-karts, rollerblading, horseback riding, rock collecting, volleyball, badminton, and chores like folding laundry and weeding the garden. I didn’t let my limb difference hold me back and I had a childhood like all my other friends did. Finding friends as a kid was never a challenge, as my report card would constantly say, ‘Pleasure to have in class, but Sarah talks too much.’ I was a social butterfly and if anyone ever asked me what happened, I’d simply say, ‘I was born this way.’
I honestly feel blessed that no matter what grade or school I was in, I always seemed to make friends. Sure there were the few rotten apples in the bunch who used to tease me, but I learned to let it slide off my back. I adopted the attitude in middle school, ‘If you don’t like me because of my hands, too bad for you, your loss.’
Growing up with a limb difference and never seeing anyone else like you can feel somewhat isolating and alone though. While I had friends, they still didn’t understand how it was for me to be me, a person with a limb difference. Fast forward 20+ years, I joined a group on Facebook for people with ABS, Amniotic Band
Syndrome (which is what I have on my left arm, Symbradtchly on my right hand) and I met who is now my Soul Sister and best friend, Shelly.
In between graduating high school and meeting Shelly, I also had some important life experiences that anyone else with or without a limb difference probably had too. I met a boy and had my heart broken, learned how I didn’t want to be treated and what my own self-worth was. Then my husband, who was just a friend at the time, turned out to be the one. He loves me just as I am and gladly helps me with anything, like opening a new jar of pickles. My husband is a man who treats me like any mother wants her daughter to be treated. I wear my wedding ring on my one and only thumb with pride. I also had a baby of my own and learned to change diapers, operate a car seat, and fold-out a stroller just like any other parent.
Being a mom with a limb difference has been a great way to teach my child about kindness and how to treat others with a difference. I feel my limb difference has helped her become the helpful and open-minded person she is growing up to be. Being a wife and mother has one of the biggest blessings in my life and I feel so lucky to have been able to hold those titles. A limb difference does not stop you from having a full, happy life and those who are in my life don’t even see my limb difference, they just see me. I also work in the medical field as a receptionist that requires fast typing and lots of multi-tasking.
Many people over the years have commented on my ability, complimenting me on my work and how amazed they are to see what I can do, that they are proud of me for overcoming my limb difference. This feedback has really helped me to see others don’t see my limb difference as a disability or scary or gross, but instead as inspiring and strong. My hope is anyone with a limb difference would carry this on through the future and continue to prove what can be done in spite of their circumstances.
Being born with a limb difference has shaped my whole life and made me the person I am today. I’ve always lived by the motto, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and although I am able to do most everything in my own way, self-acceptance was always hard for me.
It wasn’t until my son was born 5 years ago with a rare eye condition I found the motivation to work on my insecurities so I could show him how to embrace his own difference. In this time, I have learned one of the most helpful things is hearing other people’s stories and finding comfort in knowing you aren’t alone. It is because of this I am so honored to be able to share my story with others now.
I don’t remember much from young ages, yet I do have a vivid memory of my first, traumatizing bullying encounter in elementary school. Maybe it was the young age or the fact we were surrounded by others who heard that left it scarred in my memory. I remember feeling so panicked and helpless having that embarrassing negative attention drawn to me. What did everyone think? Did everyone else believe this cruel-minded kid when he called me a freak loud enough for what seemed like the entire gymnasium to hear?
I suppose that’s why the word ‘freak’ has always been a trigger for me. I had also felt left out a lot by friends. I’d question if it was my personality or my arm or something else but always wondering, ‘Could it be my arm?’ had a very isolating effect, leading me to feel I did not fit in and to believe I was not good enough.
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