Do you see what she's doing in this picture? She's holding a block with both arms (and trying to stack it on top of the other block). This seemingly small accomplishment has taken more than a year to achieve. When she got her prosthetic arm at 8 months old, I thought it would be a matter of days, possibly weeks before she would be able to use both arms to grab and pick up objects. I would place my hands over hers and assist her in grabbing a ball or something else big yet lightweight, then let go expecting her hands to stay in position and hold the objects on her own, only to see her let go every time. For a long time I didn't understand why she didn't just do it? Didn't she understand doing this would allow her to grab and hold an object on her own? Eventually I just had to let go of this expectation and not worry about it.
It's only been in the past couple weeks at therapy that her OT has gotten her to accomplish this task and what I realize now of course is just how hard this task is for her to do. The muscle development needed to hold her arm up in front of her, as opposed to holding it out to the side is big part of the equation. Also, the lack of sensory input, ie she can't feel the block with her prosthetic arm is another hurdle she's had to overcome. Additionally, while her prosthetic arm is a great first arm, and allows her to do a lot of things, the lack of an elbow makes grabbing rather difficult. You never think of the benefits of having elbows until you know someone who doesn't have them... do me a favor and give a prayer of thanks for your elbows today. It's all these little things together that make grabbing and holding so easy and natural for the rest of us, and that make it so hard for my baby to do the same. But she's doing it. And thats not even the whole of it, never mind the effort it took just to get her to the point that she trusted and liked going to her therapy appointments.
When I look at this picture I see so much more than just my beautiful big girl finally holding a block. I see determination, persistence, hard work, patience, resilience, trust, strength and love. When was the last time I did something half as difficult? It's hard not to be in awe of her sometimes.
I linked to it a couple days ago, but didn't really say much about it. Ronald A. Rasband's talk from General Conference entitled Special Lessons in which he highlights his grandson born with special needs, was a wonderful and timely talk for our family. Like Elder Rasband, it's easy for me to see how the works of God are made manifest in my children.
Read the talk here.