Katie Grace

Our daughter Katie Grace was born in 1997. As I write this she is almost 5 months old.

She was born with lots of dark hair, a twinkle in her eyes and a propensity for getting the hiccups when she laughs too much. She was also born without her right hand and forearm-below elbow.

We have been told her limb anomaly was caused by a ‘vascular incident’. When her arm was developing a blood vessel either ruptured or clotted-blocking further development. It was nothing that I had done during the pregnancy or in my rebellious teenage years. This was extremely important for me to hear (over and over again). It just simply happens sometimes.

I wish I could say that we arrived at a place of acceptance right away-but that wouldn’t be honest. It has been a journey and continues to be an ongoing process. We struggled at first through feelings of guilt and sadness. We felt pretty raw with all the mixed up emotions. All we could initially see were limitations.

Once we started talking to other parents and adults with similar differences, we began to realize that what we viewed as limitations for Katie would be opportunities for doing things differently-in her own special way. As Richard Bach said in one of his books–“Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours.” The information and support of the wonderful mentors and parents at I-CAN has played (and still does play) a crucial part in our ‘attitude adjustment’. Somehow our grieving has turned into gratitude. It is indeed a question of attitude. We have a beautiful baby to ENJOY !!!

As I watch her hold her rattle with both her big arm and little one-as I watch her roll (and roll and roll)-as I watch her work to get her tummy off the floor and begin her efforts to crawl- I am humbled and full of wonder at the marvel of this small person.

She has a limb difference but she is first and foremost a human being. One with inherent strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. We have been entrusted with her to raise her up with love, respect and support.

For being just a wee lass Katie has taught me a great deal already. One of the most important lessons has been that our worth as human beings has absolutely nothing to do with what we look like or the amount of stuff that we accumulate in our lives. It has everything to do with our hearts and our relationships with others-how we treat one another. She has made me delve deeper in all my dealings with others. There may come a time when I will have to remind Katie of these lessons so I must learn them well. Children initially learn by imitation–it is my fervent hope that I may be worthy of that emulation.

In closing I am reminded of clamming on the Upper Mississippi River. Every once in a while you can find a pearl in one of those clams. The thing that a person must look for when seeking a pearl is an anomaly on the shell. Every single one of us has ‘anomalies-every single one of us has the potential to create a pearl. May each of us search beyond the shell to see the possibility of pearls in one another.

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