Audrey Selley

‘My boss said, ‘You’re a liability due to your health issues.’ I felt like I’d lost my purpose. I didn’t think I’d make it.’: Child abuse survivor, chronic illness warrior births child with down syndrome, ‘I WILL be the mother my kids deserve’

“We were told, ‘Your daughter has Down syndrome and will need heart surgery.’ I was urged to have an abortion, due to my own health issues. Everyone doubted my ability to be a mother to a special needs child. I was determined to prove everyone wrong.”

‘I don’t want any more operations!’ It was so hard on me, I decided enough was enough.’: Woman with Apert Syndrome wants people to know, ‘‘I have a great personality if people take the time to get to know me’

“I was about 6 or 7 when I truly realized I was different from other kids. I looked different. There was a lot of staring, whispering, and pointing fingers from other people, as they had never seen anyone like me. I sometimes feel lonely and would love to have more friends.”

‘You’re running out of time.’ I was 16, infertile and robbed of my childhood.’: After 17 years of endometriosis, infertility, couple adopts two children from China, ‘at that moment, I became a mom’

“‘She called, ‘He’s here!’ I hung up the phone and went to the bathroom. I looked down to see nothing but blood. My nephew entered the world as our IVF failed. I’d never carry a child. I’d never experience pregnancy or give birth. How could this happen at this moment? The pain was immeasurable.”

‘The monitor went crazy. Suddenly, there was a half dozen doctors in the room, bagging my son. ‘I’m going to watch him die, aren’t I?’: Boy diagnosed with rare Sturge-Weber Syndrome, ‘A birthmark changed our life’

“He was hitting his milestones. He was happy. He was supposed to beat the odds. One evening, we noticed he wasn’t himself. He wasn’t making eye contact and was whimpering non-stop. We thought it was the heat, so we gave him a cool bath and went to sleep. The next morning, his face turned blue before my eyes. He went limp. The ambulance came and took Noah away. I couldn’t believe it. My baby wasn’t my baby anymore. Watching him fight made me so strong. For him. For us.”

‘Flesh was hanging off the roof of his mouth. ‘Your son has no immune system to fight this.’ We were trapped inside the house for months in total isolation.’: Mom to medically complex, autistic sons urges ‘find your village’

“His lesions were so severe he couldn’t eat. Rashes covered his entire body. We had to inject him with Pedialyte every 15 minutes just to keep him from passing out. In the midst of trying to be a normal family of 3, we suffered 3 miscarriages. Here we were, emotionally and physically exhausted, still yearning for hope. Little did we know, after 11 pregnancies, baby B would surprise us with blood in his diaper at just 2 months old. We knew something was terribly wrong.”

‘What’s it like being a little person?’ I was touched without my consent and forced to apologize. I was so naive.’: Woman with Achondroplasia urges ‘I’m not a little person, I’m not a dwarf, I’m just Chandler’

“For so long, I thought the compliments were genuine. People would brag about how smart my brother was and be in awe over my sister’s art, while I got a pat on the head for just being…me. When I’d move my head out of the way and say, ‘Don’t pat my head,’ I got, ‘Your daughter shouldn’t talk to me like that. You should teach her manners.’ If I said ‘no’ when being asked if they could shake my hand, because they ‘always wanted to shake a little person’s hand,’ I was ‘rude.’ I felt trapped.”

‘She was in her bouncer when I heard, ‘CRACK!’ A voice in my head said, ‘Take her, NOW.’ There was more to the story than I knew.’: Baby diagnosed with Brittle Bone Disease, ‘She’s our little fighter’

“It was a Friday afternoon when I got the call. Athena and I were picking out Build-A-Bears. ‘How was this missed?!’ At the ER, the doctor asked, ‘How did this happen? Who took care of her?’ He was checking to see if we had purposely abused her. ‘We need to verify if DHR needs to be involved.’ It broke my heart all over again. They checked for more bruising. I was terrified of losing her.”

‘Can’t you control him?’ People mistake his disabilities for a naughty child.’: Mom shares autistic son with global developmental delay, ‘ We celebrate every little milestone like it’s a lottery win’

“We waited for his buggy. We had to walk through passport control with him biting, hitting, and screaming as he does when he’s upset. On the plane, he was upset and screaming. We had comments like, ‘Should have brought my headphones.’ He is, in fact, disabled and not just being naughty.”

‘You’ll never get out of this hole. Just go back to your old friend, heroin.’ I spent the night in jail, tying bedsheets around my neck.’: Man who battled addiction 9 years now owner of state’s largest recovery center

“I put the sheet around my neck and waited. I just couldn’t let go. I could hear the voices in my head saying, ‘You can’t even do this right.’ When I was released from prison, my family wouldn’t take me in. After too many broken promises, they were done with me. I owed $33,000 in child support and $100,000 for my crimes. ‘You’re going to be okay.’ My prisonmates saved my life. They took me in when I was too far gone.”

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