I was between my two two-hour meetings on Thursday morning. I normally didn’t stop at my office in between but when I left for work in the morning Michele had said that today was the day. I had my beeper but I thought if I would check if I had any phone messages. There were none but just as I turned to leave the phone rang one long ring, meaning a call from outside of the Ford network. It was Michele and the contractions were 8 minutes apart.

When I got home our neighbor Linda, the delivery nurse when Jessica was born 4years earlier, met me in the driveway. She told me that everything was fine and that she’d been over a few times. She reminded me that we’d had a quick labor with Jessica and to get to the hospital when the contractions got to 5 minutes apart. Indeed, Michele’s labor with Jessica was a total of 1 hour and 45 minutes. We soon left for the hospital joking on the way that we were sure it would be a boy since we had a girls name picked out but none for a boy.

We got to the hospital and everything was going like clockwork just like before. Contractions were getting closer and closer, when the doctor broke the water we were off. Minutes later the baby was born. I told Michele it was a boy as I had seen that when the doctor flipped him over. We were both ecstatic, then I saw the doctor reach to the baby’s left hand, or where the hand should be. She looked up and saw that I also saw. She said nothing but began to check other things. That moment will live with me forever. It felt just as if someone drained all the blood out of me, took my heart out and threw it on the floor. From the ultimate high to the ultimate low that fast. Suddenly I felt very hot and dizzy. I sat down still holding Michele’s hand. My mind was racing and racing, what was I going to say to Michele? Was everything else okay? I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t speak, I was numb all over.

Finally the doctor began to ask some questions. I managed to stand up and the doctor told Michele that the baby was missing his left hand. Michele looked at me, I told her that I saw, trying not to cry. I told her everything would be fine but deep inside I wasn’t sure. I was scared, very scared, for Michele, for me, and for our newborn son.

Well, that was four years ago. A lot of things have happened since then. The first 6 months were just terrible. We were bounced from doctor to doctor, first because of the insurance “must have a referral” policy to the insurance “we won’t pay, you need to go to this doctor.” We would just get started along one track and then have to start all over. It was very discouraging and heartbreaking. It seemed like all we did all day was sit in doctor’s offices and then we’d come home and cry all night. Finally we got sent to the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan at the Detroit Medical Center. There we went to the Variety Myoelectric Center, sponsored by the Variety Children’s Charities. The people were wonderful. Not only did they take time to answer our questions but they put us in touch with parents of other amputee children.

Alex was fitted with a passive prosthesis at 8 months old. The passive would do two things. One get him used to wearing a prosthesis and second to have him learn that his arm ended at the hand and not at the forearm where his real arm ended. He graduated to a myoelectric prosthesis at 18 months. He has worn one since.

Looking back I remember telling Michele everything would be fine. Today I can honestly say they are fine. Alex is a normal 4 year old. He loves to play outside, “help” with chores, and fight with his older sister. He plays t-ball and can really whack the ball. He just finished his second swimming class where the instructor called him a fish and often used him as the model for the other students to follow. Alex goes to pre-school where the other kids have asked about his arm. The teacher said he tells them that’s just how his arm is and everyone is happy with that. She was prepared to have the kids sit down to discuss it if there was a problem but there wasn’t. The principal at the school has also been very helpful. Prior to Alex going to school there he told us he would guarantee that Alex would be treated no differently than any other child and if we saw anything happening we didn’t like to let him know and he would take care of it. So far, so good.

We still have our moments however. I know there are times when Michele feels bad, there are times when I feel bad and wonder what the future will bring. That’s when I turn to I-CAN. The people always seem to have an answer and have been a great help, especially those with older kids and the adult amputees. They all are an inspiration to me.

I do a lot of traveling for my job at Ford. Before I go anywhere I always make sure to ask if anyone lives near where I’ll be. I feel it is my duty to help others, especially the new Moms & Dads who have so many questions, just as the people at Variety and the people of I-CAN have helped us. The best part of it is I get to talk about one of my two most favorite things in the world, my kids!

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