About Me

My photo
I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Busy Weekend Ahead

Yesterday morning Mr. Bill accompanied me to Robby's school to review the drop-off procedures. In preparation for the baby being born, he has offered to chauffeur Robby to and from school each day. In reality, his "offering" was more of a declaration of calling dibs on the task. He loves taking Robby to school, and I am fairly certain he would be disappointed if I didn't allow him to help in this capacity.

After dropping off Robby, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. During warmer weather, Robby occupies himself by "helping" with whatever yard work and landscaping Mr. Bill was toiling with while I took the opportunity to sit and chat for a few minutes. Although our visits were brief, they were frequent and added some continuity to our day. With this winter being so cold and snowy, we have all opted to hibernate for the past few weeks.   I've missed seeing him and hearing his stories, and it was nice to catch up and talk.

When I came home from breakfast, I sat on the couch to get some work done. I woke up 2 hours later. Apparently I was more tired than I thought! I have to admit, while I wasn't anticipating a nap,I certainly woke up feeling refreshed.  Thankfully I woke up in time for my OB/GYN appointment. The baby is growing as expected and everything appears to be on track for a healthy delivery. I can deal with my own health complications as long as I know that the baby is fine!

It's a good thing that I was able to take a nap yesterday morning, because we are gearing up for a busy weekend. In addition to the regular weekend errands, Robby has been invited (and has RSVP's) to three birthday parties and one St. Patrick's Day scavenger hunt. He is over-the-moon with his social calendar. My mind is scrambling trying to fit in everything while still remaining "relaxed." Something tells me that relaxation is nothing but a pipe dream for the next few days!

Although our schedule is going to be hectic, I wouldn't have it any other way. Robby is extremely social and has been looking forward to each party since receiving the invitations. He certainly doesn't care if the laundry doesn't get washed, the house stays cluttered and the grocery shopping never gets done. All he cares about is playing with his friends, having fun and eating a lot of cake. I just love his priorities, and I'm looking forward to a weekend of watching him have fun with his friends. I know that we'll be busy, but I'm going to try to calm down and enjoy this time. After all, the housework and errands will still be there on Monday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gift Bags and Vaginas

I may be hormonal, but I find myself feeling angry when I see cute, bouncy pregnant women on TV. I just can't relate to the celebrity and baby bump models who espouse the wonderful virtues of being pregnant. I have a firm grasp on reality and hold no illusions that I am a "cute" pregnant lady. Instead, I have fully embraced that I look like a bloated and peg-legged duck waddling through my daily routine.

A few weeks ago my OB-GYN presented me with a "Welcome to the Third Trimester" gift bag. Filled with free samples and literature, I was eager to go through the loot when I made it home from the appointment. Of course, as soon as I arrived home Robby needed my help. The gift bag was put on a counter where I have moved it from side to side but hadn't had the opportunity to open it. Yesterday, feeling compelled to tidy up but lacking a lot of energy, I decided to go through the gift bag. 

My free samples were limited to three types of stretch mark cream, each touting amazing promises to diminish those "ugly and unsightly lines." Up until that moment I had failed to realize that stripes were forming across my belly. I'm so glad that they were pointed out to me, lest I miss another reason to feel badly about my appearance!

Thankfully, if the cream doesn't do the trick I now have brochures from two area clinics which specialize in various laser treatments designed to eliminate those "post pregnancy issues." I have already been through one pregnancy and never had to undergo a laser treatment. What have I been missing? 

One of the more surprising brochures in my gift bag was advertising a plastic surgeon who specializes in "vaginal lifts." Until that moment, I had no idea that a vagina could fall!  My favorite testimonial read, "Having the vaginal lift was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I feel like I'm 18 again, with everything firm and back in place, virtually erasing the childbirth altogether. Needless to say, my husband has never been happier."  Sorry Scott, it isn't going to happen!

The last item in my gift bag was a complimentary copy of "Fit and Pregnant" magazine. First of all, I never knew that those two words would logically go together. Secondly, the cover photo of a pregnant lady beaming in a bikini with the statement "I've never felt sexier in my skin" made me want to scream. I am neither radiant nor sexy at the moment. The more I think about it, I wonder how much time and money that model is going to invest in stretch cream, laser treatments and vaginal lifts to erase the physical memories of the sexiest time in her skin?

The magazine also boasted an article which promised to help me "Embrace my Inner Goddess."  At that point I had reached my limit. I gathered up the contents of my not-so-fun "gift bag" and I threw it in the trash. I spent the next hour munching my way through a bag of double stuff Oreos.

Adjusting to being a mother of two is going to be difficult enough, I certainly don't need the added pressures of erasing all signs that a pregnancy had occurred.  It saddens me that, even while pregnant, women are inundated with messages of imperfection!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shark Teeth!

Robby's reading has drastically improved during the past few months. While I wouldn't classify him as a bookworm, he is learning that books open up the world to a wealth of information.  With a strong preference for non-fiction, he has already exhausted his school's library of every available turtle and reptile book. Although turtles remain his obvious preference, he has expanded (no doubt out of necessity) his reading interests to include sharks and sea life.

A few weeks ago I picked up Robby from school and he began to pepper me with questions about Mrs. Sager's diving experiences. Mrs. Sager is a family friend who taught with my Mom for years. She is also an experienced scuba diver with a wealth of experience and wonderful stories to share. She taught Robby how to snorkel before our trip to Atlantis, and the two often talk about the tropical fish she has seen during her dives. 

On this occasion, Robby wasn't interested in general diving information or experiences. Specifically, he wanted to know if she has ever been in a cage surrounded by sharks. (Apparently he read a book about a marine scientist studying sharks.) I passed the question along to my Mom who sees her on a regular basis, and we received a message that she has swum with sharks but was not in a cage. Robby was duly impressed!

This past weekend Robby was surprised with an unexpected gift from Mrs. Sager and her sister. They had compiled a collection of shark's teeth for him, many prehistoric, along with a classification guide. He was excited to see the variety of teeth but became utterly fascinated when he realized that some came from sharks that swam during the time of the dinosaurs.  Upon learning that information, there was no doubt that the teeth, along with the chart, were going to be taken to school to show his classmates.

Monday morning, Robby triumphantly walked into his school with the little box of shark teeth, and
as soon as he saw his teacher, he began to show her his latest treasure. I must give her credit; she immediately put down her paperwork and focused on what Robby was showing her. They carefully examined each specimen, commenting on and comparing the various features and attributes.

Of course, my little talker also took the opportunity to tell his teacher all about Mrs. Sager, her diving experiences and especially about her swimming pool. He proudly explained that she was a friend of Nana's (my Mom) and she has a swimming pool. Her pool is just like the pools that they probably have in heaven, except that it is in Pennsylvania. His teacher listened patiently as she swiftly redirected Robby's conversation back to the teeth. Yet again, I made a mental note to be careful what I say in front of Robby because he is bound to remember and repeat it.

Robby offered to research to determine during which period of the dinosaur era the various sharks lived. She agreed that a shark timeline would be a great project and promised to help him research further.  Before Robby left for his classroom, his teacher remarked that he always brings in the most interesting items to show his friends. He coyly smiled and said, "Well, that's how I roll." 

Robby has been elevated to hero du jour by sharing his rare sharks teeth with his classmates. I understand that he allowed each friend to look at them and that they have been diligently working on the timeline. I also learned that he was vigilant about keeping track of each tooth, carefully putting each back in the little box after it was examined. His new mantra has become, "These teeth were around when the dinosaurs were here. That's a really long time, and I'm not going to lose them on my watch."

For the past few days Robby's classwork and free time has been consumed with shark research. His Daddy, in a tongue and cheek attempt to help with this endeavor, put on the movie JAWS. Robby watched for a few minutes before declaring, "Daddy, that is fiction. I'm a science man. I am only interested in the facts."  Although I am not particularly fond of learning about sharks, I have to admit that I admire and love the enthusiasm he brings to each new interest. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

16 Years

Today is the 16th anniversary of that accident which ultimately resulted in my amputation. In some ways it is hard to fathom that 16 years have passed because I remember the incident with such clarity. On the other hand, it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

My journey to limb loss is not nearly as dramatic or spectacular as many of my amputee friends.As stories go, mine is benign and boring. I was at conference, and computer was not properly secured on the cart. The cart was pushed over a transition strip on the floor, dislodging the machine and dropping it onto the top of my foot. I was simply standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Initially we thought I was dealing with a few broken bones. As the months wore on, it became clear that more damage had been sustained. My foot was crushed, not simply broken. The nerves were damaged and the bones could not be fused properly back together. Despite more than 20 surgeries, nothing was successful in ridding the constant and nagging pain. After 5 years, I came to the difficult decision that my life would be better off without the pain. To achieve this goal, I needed to amputate.

So much of my life changed because of that specific moment in time. I sometimes wonder how things would have been different had I not been injured. Living with the constant pain, and then finally opting for an amputation has certainly altered my perspective on so many events and issues. My adjustment to limb loss was more difficult and heart-wrenching than I ever envisioned, but in retrospect I don't regret any of the tears shed. All of the surgeries, the pain, the emotional turmoil, the failures and the successes have contributed to the person I am today. 

Some years this anniversary hits me harder than others. This year I am relatively unaffected. (This is probably a good thing because I am highly susceptible to tears and emotional mood swings at the moment!) Unlike other anniversaries, I don't feel solemn or mournful for what was lost. Instead, I feel like I'm shrugging my shoulders and saying, "Yep, that was certainly not my best day." I don't know if my indifference is because I have so much on my plate at the moment or because so much time has transpired. Perhaps it is a combination of both, but I am happy not to be feeling gloomy this year.

The fact that I am not introspective or glum does not mean that I don't compelled to honor the significance of this anniversary. Instead of tears and grief-stricken reflection, I think this year I'll take a different route. Today of all days seems like the perfect occasion for a cupcake!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Getting Ready for Baby

I had a fabulous weekend! It turns out that visiting with my Mom was just what I needed to relax and refocus. Regardless of how old I get, I guess I will always need my Mom.

With her help (and some valuable assistance from Robby as well) I feel like I have finally made some progress towards baby preparations. Although I am trying to be patient, Scott's dental phobia has usurped all of the focus in our house. Although I've tried to discuss the baby and what we need to accomplish before his/her arrival, he has not been able to wrap his mind around anything beyond his dental phobia. I recognize that he has been doing his best, but I have been feeling isolated and alone throughout much of this pregnancy. Thankfully, my Mom was more than willing to hear all of my plans for the baby.

Saturday afternoon we all went to Babies R Us with one goal in mind: to make a registry list of everything that we need (or in some cases want) for the baby. It has been almost 8 years since Robby was born. During that time, I have lent or given away the majority of my baby things. I have more experience with this baby, but in many ways I feel like a first time Mom who is starting from scratch. Needless to say, each time I tried to wrap my head around what was needed, I felt overwhelmed. 

With Robby in control of the scanner, we went up and down each aisle. He dutifully scanned the items I selected and was extremely patient with both my Mom and me. I was worried that he would become jealous of our preparing for the baby, but the opposite occurred. The experience actually enhanced his enthusiasm about being a big brother.  There is nothing like shopping for Robby to become excited!

He was diligent about scanning everything we asked, but he certainly did not hesitate to scan items of his choosing. Let's just say that this baby is going to have to like turtles! From blankets and bibs to toys and pacifiers, if a turtle option was available, it was scanned.  Robby demonstrated radar-like abilities as he spotted the turtle products throughout the store, even when it was hidden from plain view.

Only on one occasion did Robby look beyond turtles. He found a crib swing which featured a robotic-like functionality and was enthralled!  "Momom, you can just put the baby in here and the swing will do all of the work. It's like you won't even have to be there and the swing will take care of the baby. That's definitely going to be helpful."  I didn't have the heart to burst his bubble by explaining that no piece of equipment will ever completely take care of the baby.  Instead, I let him scan the swing. After he scanned it, he optimistically smiled and said, "You never know. We might get lucky. This swing will do everything automatically. Just put the baby in the seat and you're done." I fear he is in for a shocking revelation when the little one finally arrives.

I devised the list from a functionality perspective while Robby only considered aesthetics (turtles). My Mom was there to remind me of the practical items, such as bottles and wipes that somehow have slipped my mind during the baby planning process.  Between the three of us, we managed to create a fairly comprehensive list and I left the store more excited than ever about meeting the baby. It was empowering to finally feel like I have begun planning for our newest little miracle.

With the registry complete, I was feeling energized and decided to tackle another looming task. My wardrobe has been limited to a pair of maternity jeans, one pair of slacks, two sweaters and a handful of Scott's big sport jerseys. Although quasi-functional, I have certainly not been fashionable. With my time in the office increasing, always wearing the same clothes was becoming embarrassing. I knew that I would feel better about myself if I had a slightly larger maternity wardrobe, so we decided to tackle the mall.

It turns out that the selection of maternity clothes is sparse, but we finally managed to find some cute shirts and a skirt to supplement my wardrobe. For the first time during this pregnancy, I am actually feeling pretty again. It's amazing what a few new shirts can do to buoy my self-esteem.

I arrived at my Mom's house feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted. I was able to sleep in, enjoyed being pampered and accomplished quite a bit. While I know we still have a lot to do before the baby arrives, it feels great to have officially started the preparations!