Yesterday, on the way home from my walk, the battery in my leg died. I must have forgotten to charge it the night before. When the battery dies, the leg walks stiff-legged. Thank goodness I was just two blocks from home and didn’t have to walk stiff-legged for too long. Just those two blocks, though, reminded me how difficult it was when I was pregnant with my second child.
I learned from my first pregnancy that constantly adjusting the socket of my prosthetic leg was too time consuming and ineffective, so instead, for my second pregnancy, my prosthetist made me a big socket and we attached it to a peg leg, a long metal tube with a rubber foot at the end. This was a stiff-legged contraption, like Peg Leg Pete, the pirate. That’s how I walked for over a year during and after my second pregnancy.
When I was seven months pregnant, Luke, my nearly three year old, and I went to swim lessons twice a week. Being in the water with him was so easy. The water displaced the weight of the baby inside me and allowed me to easily maneuver my body. I held Luke’s chubby, soft body in my hands, face down so he could practice blowing bubbles and kicking. I threw him in the air and caught him as he hit the water. Belly laughs from both of us echoed around the pool.
One day, after we had showered and changed, we were walking to the car. I was weighed down by a bag full of wet towels and toiletries. Luke carried his pool toy. Suddenly, I crash landed onto the floor, scattering the bag’s contents all over. My hands immediately rushed to my stomach. Everything felt okay with the baby. A gasp of air, a sob, abrupt tears assaulted me all at once. I looked down to realize that the metal pylon had broken off my socket. I was afraid Luke was scared, but he was still playing with his pool toy.
I hefted my body off the floor awkwardly, picked up the now filled-up tote and the remaining part of my leg. Taking a deep breath, I fought back the tears and scanned the area. Another mom, with her young child, was walking down the hall. With watery, pleading, embarrassed eyes, I asked her for help.
I showed her how to hold her arm so I could use it as a support as I hopped the hundred feet to my car. When we arrived home I had to hop twenty more feet to the house, using the fence for support. When I was younger, hopping up and down a flight of 13 stairs a few times in a row might make me breathless, but wasn’t difficult. After three years of inactivity and a six month baby in my belly, I fell onto the couch exhausted.
When I look back on my second pregnancy, I’m amazed that I made it through. I’m even more amazed that I’ve bounced back. Well, okay, bounced is a stretch. I’ve struggled to get back to walking a mile a day.
Even though I had to walk stiff-legged for a couple of blocks yesterday, I’m glad I did. It reminded me to be grateful for my imperfect body and how far it has come.