A glimpse into the world of the handicapable.

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Adoption…baby pictures

20131230-002007.jpgI have a friend that has a blog. She adopted two little boys from China. She had a conversation with one of them about baby pictures. She was showing them baby pictures of when she was a day old. She was in her little hospital issued baby crib, her belly button had been pinned up and healing, the hospital issued blanket was displayed around her. Her little boy asked where HIS baby pictures were. He had none.

I don’t remember asking my mom for my baby pictures. I don’t think I gave it a thought until my high school graduation. It was a tradition at our small private school to show a slideshow of each of the graduates. The slideshow consisted of a letter written by our parents and pictures capturing our lives from birth to graduation day. It was a sweet tradition and I had been looking forward to seeing what my mom would write to me. I wasn’t disappointed. =)

However, I didn’t have a baby photo to include in my montage like my classmates. Instead, my slideshow began at 2 years of age. I was a little embarrassed at the fact that I didn’t have a picture of my mother swaddling me at the hospital hours after my birth. To clarify, I wasn’t embarrassed about being adopted. My entire school (all 200 of them) knew about my family and about my situation. I was proud of being adopted. My mom would always reassure me about how she “picked me to adopt.” I was “special because I was adopted.” However, I wanted to be like everyone else and have that infant picture.

Decades later, I still don’t have infant pictures of myself. Instead, I have something SO much better. I have an infant picture of my precious baby boy. I have a picture of myself in the hospital holding my baby just hours after he was born. I have my memories of him growing inside of me. I have pictures of my pregnancy. I have journals I have written before, during and after his birth. I have so much more than I could have wanted as a high school graduate. I was just focused on wanting the wrong picture.



Mini-sode Episode 1: Going for a Roll

My Holly Days Mini-sode Episode 01 from Holly Cates on Vimeo.

What was I so worried about?

Caiden is a little over 5 months now.  He is so happy, just smiles all the time.  He is also just a laid back kid, nothing seems to faze him too much.  He is a social little bug!

Since the summer began (2 weeks ago!), I get to stay home with Caiden and just hang out with him.  I LOVE being at home with him.  I get to see him try to crawl, give me the MOST DRAMATIC frowns, and give me the happiest squeals and giggles.  I am also VERY protective of him.

I think the reasoning is that, well, first off, I’m a mommy.  Secondly, I feared (okay, I admit, I still fear) what others would say or think of him having a mommy in a wheelchair.  I get the vibe at times that some people are not too pleased that I made a conscious choice to get pregnant.  I could have “spread” my disability to him, or made his life harder than it needs to be.  WELL…to be honest…who’s life is NOT hard?  Seriously…!

However, the thought still stays in my head.  I keep thinking…well, I grew up like this (you know…not walking) and I’m used to the stares, the nervous smiles and the “OH @#*&$ how am I supposed to handle this situation” looks.  Chris (the hubby) married me knowing he would have to deal with the above types of people.  He is used to it.   I am quite in awe of how brave and self-confident he is about the whole situation.  It never bothered him, even when others were worried for him.

BUT…I brought a baby into the equation.  Caiden wasn’t really born into it (not really), and he didn’t choose this lifestyle or his mommy.  So, I fretted (as any normal mommy would do) about how others would treat him, what other people would say to him, or how others would treat me when he’s around.  I know I can do anything I set my mind to.  If you give me a challenge, or just tell me I can’t…well, I will do anything in my power to prove you wrong…and then some.  Still, you have people out there who do not know me well, and will still try to limit me.  Not really on purpose, but trying to be the good Samaritan, or trying to “help”.  It’s condescending.  Plain and simple.  I do not need to be taken care of and I usually don’t need assistance…unless I specifically ask.  =)  I don’t want Caiden exposed to that type of mindset.

Yesterday, for the first time ever…Caiden and I went out to a place that wasn’t with my husband or family members.  I took Caiden to the store.  Just me and Caiden.  I was so nervous and scared.  I wasn’t nervous because of the transferring in and out of the car, or being able to carry him around, that’s EASY PEASY!  It was how I thought people were going to react.  I thought people might stare at me or at Caiden and judge us. I thought people would be rude, or disrespectful.

I got out of my car, put Caiden in his front carrier and we rolled in to the store.  This is the store that Chris, Caiden and I usually go to every week.  It was so intimidating at first.  But everyone cooed and smiled and played with Caiden and greeted me in such a respectful manner.  The employees were so nice and friendly.  The customers were hilarious.  Chris was right…they weren’t judging, they weren’t disgusted.  They wanted to help.  They wanted to see what they could do to make things easier.  Why was I so worried?  I forgot, most of this world is actually…good.  =)

God knew what he was doing when he gave me Caiden.  We are a perfect match.

So, that’s one fear confronted….so many more to go.  But you know what?  I’ve got time.  =0)


Today was a good day. School is almost at an end, and summer vacation is fast approaching. It also means that Caiden is getting older…and more mobile.
Yesterday, I sat him in his pack and play and watched as he rolled from back to tummy and back again. He sits on my lap and we ride. He also nurses with his feet on my wheels. It’s amazing how adaptable babies are. Caiden somehow knows what I can and can’t do, and seems perfectly fine adapting to me.
I can’t wait to see what he will be like when he’s a little older (although parts of me want him to stay a baby!).
Ok…time for bed!

I’m back!

Caiden on our first family vacation!

It’s still hard to believe…my baby boy is almost 5 months old. He gabs, rolls, laughs and grabs. He is a bouncy baby boy, and he is ACTIVE! He loves to jump (with help from his mommy and daddy) and dance, sing and play. It’s amazing how much this little Zoomie has grown.

I think what amazes me so much is the fact that he was in my body 5 months ago! Now that he’s older, he is able to bear weight on his legs and stand on my lap and he TOWERS over me. He is tall!

Everyone asks “What’s been the hardest part of being a mommy and being in a wheelchair at the same time?”. Well, to be honest…being a mommy has been easy. Being a mommy in a wheelchair…well, that part is easy too. After all, it’s basically the same thing…only, I’m faster down a hill.

I think I had a few concerns before Caiden was born. However, I figured it out with time and thanks to my wonderful, supportive and amazing husband. Here are a few things that I had on my mind before his birth:
1. How on earth do I carry him?
Easy peasy! When he was a bit younger (AND A LOT SMALLER), I could fit him in the crook of my arm and then push my chair by gliding along a wall or whatever free standing furniture was close by. I still do that, but not as much since Caiden is able to sit in my lap. I also use a carrying pouch. As long as Caiden is facing out, he is happy. He is definitely a great rider!
2. How do I travel with Caiden?
Again…easier than I thought. I carry him to my car with my pouch. I am fairly (and unnaturally) strong, and so putting him in the car seat was very easy. Then I load myself in the car…and voila! Off we go!
3. How would others view me? Meaning…how would other people (strangers and acquaintances) react to me with a baby on my lap?)
I’ve taken Caiden to the store, mall, park, etc. many times now. I usually get positive (or puzzled) reactions, but never anything negative (knock on wood). I can let my imagination go wild some times and it never bodes well for anyone. =)

Actually, when I post on Facebook (granted everyone on my FB account is someone I know personally), I get pretty positive responses. I am usually greeted with supportive comments and friendly well-wishers. I had noticed that a group that I belonged to hadn’t had much to say to me during and after the pregnancy. I know that there are people out there that did not want me to get pregnant in fear that I would give my SB to my son. I don’t think people realize how hard the decision was for me to become pregnant. I did worry about my health…about my mobility…about my job. I worried about finances…I worried about money…about my ability to be a mom…about…well, everything…I’m human. I worried so much about what my in-laws would think or say or react to my ability to handle pregnancy and being a mom. I worried about my family…how would they react, say or think.

But now that I have him, none of that matters. Of course…my worrying didn’t help, hinder or solve a thing. In fact…it was a waste of energy!

My sisters, bless EACH of them, would listen patiently to my worries. It was endless hours of me worrying and countering each with a sweet and loving reassurance.

But now…he’s here. He’s in my arms and made his way to my heart. I couldn’t imagine life without this little boy. I couldn’t imagine life with out my strong and loving husband. There is a reason why marriages either get stronger or break when a baby is introduced into the family. There are so many things that we have to communicate to each other. There are so many compromises and teamwork. I feel like I’ve met a whole new part of Chris. I love watching the two together, it makes me feel so complete.

My boys!

Bottoms up!

Typically when I transfer (into a bed or my wheelchair), I use one arm to support myself and the other arm doing a…well, I call it the “one arm, handstand with a twist”. My little bottom is in the air and up I go with the rest of my body. I will record it one day, because it sounds very technical and difficult. It’s really not.

I have an after school program with my students. It’s a sign choir and we like to participate in different school activities. One such event was the anual parade. It’s a homecoming tradition and a very fun event! One day we decided we wanted a big banner to carry with us on our route around the neighborhood. I got out of my chair and was on the floor helping the kids paint when my student, AQ, looked at me with big eyes and said…”Ms. Cates…do that again!”. She wanted me to get back into my wheelchair and show her how I transferred on and off my chair. I was glad to do it, and realized what a teaching tool that was.

I wonder if little Zoomie will ask me questions about my disability (or my handicapness), or will he think it’s just “mom”. Sorry…errant thought.

Oh…my point…(darn this pregnancy brain!!!!!)

My little trick to transfer is quickly developing into a wild gymnastic routine that I can only explain as…exhausting…but I think it’s kind of neat that as my body changes…so will the way I normally do things. I promise…a video will come soon. (Yes, Heather…with captions). =)

I thought it was a myth…

I had nothing to do with this...She just started crying...!

I am not an overly emotional person. Sure, I laugh, I snicker, I occasionally will be disgusted and appalled…but rarely will I cry.
I never understood the sensitive. They cry for joy, sorry and luck (I’m kidding…but you never know).
Yesterday, my husband was teasing me about something and what started out as a little chuckle, turned into a flood emotion and tears. I felt humor, then a sudden flash of rage and hatred and then a mixture of incredulity. It then continued to disgust, more intensified rage, and sorrow. It finally settled on outrage for bit before it turned into…well, I guess I can only describe it as complete shame, ridiculousness and humor (as I watched my husbands expression go from silly to speechlessness). Mind you…this all happened in a span of two minutes.

I only hope that this will never happen again….
Oh wait…I’m pregnant…!
Get ready Chris…this is just the beginning…

No more teasing Daddy!!! (Unless it's really, really, really funny....)

Disability Manners 102

Welcome back class to Disability Manners 102.


It’s been a few months since we’ve last met, but I felt that some people needed a refresher course.
I have been gone for three weeks and finally back in the ‘hood. Reflecting on the past three weeks of my life, has really helped me learn more about other people and their need for more education…shall we begin?
Lesson 1: “I know you can do it yourself, but I’m just going to help you a little” approach.
This method has been used on many people in wheelchairs for as long as I can remember. The walkee, an individual who possess the ability to walk, sees a struggling wheelchair user and acknowledges that they might, or might not be struggling. The do not want to hurt the pride of the wheeler, yet they want to help (or are fulfilling their obligations to the city, state or a bet). Often the approach used is “Hey there, I know you can do push yourself, but allow me.” and although the intention is sweet, and the offer is respectfully declined, the walkee takes control of the wheelchair and begins to push.
Why on earth would this bother the wheeler? Let me try to explain the complex workings of the differently-abled. Every person has a level of pride they have in their independence and abilities. Sometimes what looks like struggling, is actually an attempt at a good cardio. Or, perhaps the person with challenges set a goal for themselves and wants to follow through by wheeling from point A to point B. Perhaps the person in the wheelchair just prefers to do it themselves. Whatever the reasons, it is ALWAYS a good idea to ASK before you touch. If the offer is declined, it’s best and recommended to leave it at that. Any other gestures can be seen as hostile and toes, ankles and shins may be used in retaliation (*cough* I mean, may accidentally be targeted…I mean…you might get hurt…).
Think of it this way…
Say a walkee is running down a long trail. The said walkee is sweating, heaving and perhaps gasping for air. Perhaps the walkee is weakening by the moment and stops. A friendly neighborhood wheelie comes along and sees this poor soul struggling. Now, imagine the following dialogue:
“Hi there unsuspecting walkee, I know you are more than capable to make it home, but allow me to scoop you on my lap and wheel you home.”
“That is very thoughtful and kind of you, but I would prefer to walk home. See? My legs are good and strong and can make it.”
“You are strong (sigh as you say), bless your heart. But I think it would be better for your to give your legs a rest.”
“Oh, you’re are kind, whoa…yup, now I’m on your lap and look at that, we are wheeling to my house. How did you know where I live? Oh now I am upset on the inside because I really wanted to exercise. I can’t say anything to this kind wheeler, for he/she might be offended and think that all walkees are the same and will react the same.” Sigh…

The following scenario could have happened to someone at some point. It happened to me…several times. Some people will allow me to regain control of the chair after insisting that I would prefer to do it myself, while others are so overwhelmed by their own passion and good deed they forget that there is an actual human being in the chair in front of them and do not listen to the protests (regardless of how firm, and colorful the language is). Some people want and need the assistance. Some people don’t. It’s best to ask first (if I keep saying this, perhaps you will remember when the time comes).

True story…My friends and I were on our way to the cafeteria at TWU and we encountered a busy intersection. There were pedestrian crossing lights and I waited with my friends for the light to change to “walk” (how insensitive, right? Personally, I think it should read…”go”, but whatever…). The light changed and away we went. Apparently, I wasn’t going fast enough, or the good Samaritan didn’t think I was going to make it safely across (seriously…who would hit a girl in a wheelchair?)…so she grabbed the back of my wheelchair without a word (understand…I don’t have handle bars for a reason) and pushed with all her might. What she didn’t know was that I have to balance my body on my wheelchair in a specific way depending on if I am sitting, wheeling or wheeling really fast…and depending on if I am on rough terrain or smooth asphalt. I wasn’t prepared for the sudden push and my thumbs got caught inside my grab bar on my wheels in mid push. She pushed me into the street and down I tumbled in the middle of oncoming traffic (I’m hoping this wasn’t her intention…because she looked very remorseful afterward) and I ended up doing exactly what she was trying to prevent (I hope that was what she was doing…again…a little skeptical). We stopped traffic (again…hitting a girl in a wheelchair that fell out of her wheelchair…they’d have to be completely cold-hearted). Moral of the story…ASK BEFORE YOU TOUCH ANYONE.

I tried to help a deaf-blind girl cross the table once at a restaurant. I got slapped. Granted, she knew I was kidding and I was being silly…but still, I should have asked.

Lesson 2: If you must stare at a differently-abled person…at least give them a reason why.
“I don’t like your shoes”. “I have never seen a person with three sets of eyes before, I am curious.” “Wow, we are wheelchair twinkies”. Those are great examples of communicating to the handicapped as to why you are looking, without a lot of blinking and your mouth is a bit open.

Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to offend, if you really, honestly and truly aren’t trying to.
I am not offended at labels. They are just that…a name to call a predicament, event, person, disability, or place. You can honestly refer to me as anything as long as you remember that you are wearing open-toed shoes.
But if you are trying to figure out labels for yourself, well, that is up to you my friend.
I accept: disabled, differently-abled, uniquely-talented, handicapped, gimp, lame, wheeler, wheelchair user, a person of color (wait a minute…hmmmm), the person that ran over my foot and is now getting away, and Visa/Master Card.

I think that is all for today, students. If you have any questions, please comment on this post! Have a great evening and good night!

"You looking at me? Are YOU looking at ME? You must be looking at me, because there isn't anyone here." -Misquoted HORRIBLY from The Taxi Driver

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