Helper Hand

The day I received the call from the adoption agency announcing the referral of a 20 month old girl with no right hand, I took a breath and said yes, not knowing what that would mean. What I got is the delightful, gloriously happy, bundle of energy that is Mei in my life. I have also entered the world of limb differences (the PC term) and an amazing community of families and individuals negotiating life without a limb.

In blogs I follow and through online groups for parents, I’ve gotten good advice about learning to swim, working with teachers and tying shoes. I read posts from frantic mothers-to-be who have just found out their baby will be lacking a hand or foot and are wondering what they did wrong, if they can love him/her and worrying how hard their child’s life will be. There are always many who chime in with reassurance, but when one new mom wondered about finding a support group for her unborn child, the best response was that it was the mom who probably needed one – the kid would be fine.

That’s my experience. Mei is fine, does everything, and when she can’t she asks for help. I’m the one who has needed the help – learning to respond to pitying stares or bizarre questions, dealing with the emotions when someone calls my child “handicapped”, responding when she asks why God made her like that, worrying about bullying and limitations as she grows.

We start a new chapter on Friday when Mei gets her “helper hand”, the name we have given to her new arm/hand prosthesis. On our first visit to Shriner’s Hospital (great place!) she looked over the options, ranging from passive arm to myoelectric, and grabbed a plastic dummy hand and put it on. “This one! My own new hand!” she said. We are getting the next step up, a hand that opens and closes by means of a shoulder harness. I think learning to use it will be a pain in the butt and it will at first be harder for her to do things with it than without. But we need to give it a try and see what happens. The Shriners Doc said kids will use them when they are motivated to do a particular task. Helper hand may come in handy next time the teacher asks the class to trace their hands to make a Thanksgiving turkey (NOT my favorite craft!!!).  If that’s not motivation enough, it will definitely level the playing field when she and her big sister are trying to pinch one another.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Helper Hand

  1. benmcdcol

    So glad that you’re blogging, Amy. We remember being there when you got “the call” about Mei!

    • Thanks, Ben! I’m having a lot of fun, although I’ve got ideas for about ten more posts floating in my head right now. You and Joy are part of the very beginning of Mei’s and my story and I am so grateful for your presence that day. Blessings!

  2. Looking forward to watching Mei use her “helper hand.” She’s an incredible ball of energy who lifts our spirits.

  3. Bill Brobst

    Merry Christmas to you all – Mei – I believe helps us all smile more. Love you guys!

  4. Thank you Amy for sharing this that let me in on a part of your life as a mom. Still amazing and now with amazing kids. Merry Christmas. Let me know if you come through.

  5. Bill Robison

    We miss you guys! What a wonderful story and great news. Merry Christmas to you all!

  6. Paul Brobst

    Mia, Amy and “big sister” Helen,

    Merry Christmas!

    Mia, yes you surely made me smile alot and lifted my spirit were we were together — which seems like ages ago..

    However, you are not the only one who exhibits great energy. Your mom, by her 21 Dec posting of “Helper Hand,” shows she remains a very motivated mother with great energy..

    Love to all of you and have a great 2012..

    Uncle Paul

  7. Cricket Hunter

    The double-fisting of Christmas cookies seems like the perfect motivator. Thank you for the story!

  8. Sounds like the helper hands in this story are not plastic but attached to caring people like doctors, prosthetists and mommy’s. thanks for blogging and good luck on Friday!!

  9. Paula

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing your blog, Amy. Much Christmas love to you and the girls. Paula

  10. Suzette Brooks

    Hello – I was linked to your blog from our wonderful Pastor Dan McKnight. We have an amazing little 3 month old baby boy, Carter, that was born with his left hand and approx 1/3 of his forearm missing. Although he is still so young he hasn’t let it slow him down one bit, little ones are so strong, they are the ones that bring courage to us! I was shown the helper hand and other options at his recent limb deficiency appointment, I have to say it was a little overwhelming It seems like letting your daughter pick it out for herself went well, we were thinking of that same kind of approach. Thank you for sharing, it is nice to see other stories and experiences. 🙂

    • Hi Suzette – Great to hear from you. It IS overwhelming, but so wonderful that there are these options for our kids. I have no idea when the right time is – I know some start at a few months of age – for us timing it with the start of school, growing self awareness, and the beginning of a sense of limitations (Mei so wants to do cartwheels) that made this seem right for us. All the best to you, Carter and your family!
      Amy

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