I’ve been an amputee for thirty two years. The first eighteen years I was very active and involved in many activities: backpacking, kayaking, skiing and dabbling in many other sports like soccer, rock climbing and scuba diving. I never really felt disabled.
And then I became pregnant when I was thirty five years old. I quickly started gaining weight which made walking quite painful. Eventually even sitting was painful. I had a temporary leg made, but, by the end of the pregnancy, it fit just well enough to get me to the donut counter of the grocery store and to the movie store. At the end, waiting two weeks for the birth, I was like a beached whale laying on my couch.
After my son was born my weight didn’t go back to normal as easily as I hoped so my mobility didn’t resume as quickly as I wanted. It took about two years to get my weight back down, but what I realized was that my hips had shifted and everything felt different. I had to have a new leg made because my body simply wasn’t the same as before I became pregnant. It took about two years after I gave birth to feel myself again, but it was only about nine months later that I became pregnant with my second child.
For my second pregnancy I decided to wear my peg leg. We made a big socket so my residual limb could fit in it, even after fifty pounds of weight gain. The leg itself was lighter, so it was easier to maneuver with all that extra weight. What I didn’t anticipate was how the straight-legged walking (think Peg-Leg Pete) would tweak my back and other hip. I wore that leg for a full year before getting yet another new leg made for yet an even different body.
Pregnancy is what really made me disabled. I have never fully recovered and, at this point, I’ve quit trying. I realize the body I had before babies is long gone, just like it is for many two-legged women. Just for me, it’s not about weight, it’s about all the other ramifications pregnancy had on my one-legged body: tendinitis, bursitis, a permanently swollen foot, and lower back pain.
And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wouldn’t give up one ache or trade in one pain. I would gladly give up my other leg if it meant I could be Luke and Tessa’s mother. There is nothing I can say about motherhood that isn’t cliche. I can’t talk about the small, seemingly insignificant moments without sounding schmaltzy; I can’t go on about the big Aha’s without sounding trite. But what I know, beyond the small and large joys of being a mother, is that it has been worth everything I had to give up. Everything.