“I am sharing the story of my 4th born child of 6 children, Tyler Shepherd, Jr., who we call Baby Ty. My due date was October 15 and I was 4 days overdue when he was born on October 19, 2015. There is a reason for everything they say, because October 19 just happened to be my birthday too. For some reason I knew he was going to be born on my birthday.
In the early morning of October 19 my labor began and I waited and waited until I absolutely had to go to the hospital. I finally told my son’s father, Tyler Sr., that I thought it was time to go. As we were in route to the hospital my water broke. I walked into the hospital at 9:05 a.m. and when they checked me, I was dilated at a 9. He was born at 9:45 a.m. and I remember the doctor’s exact words, which were, ‘He looks healthy, except he was born without a right arm.’ I started crying and wondered what I did wrong or what happened. That was one of the scariest moments of my life.
I had no clue how to raise a child with one arm. I was mostly scared that I wouldn’t be a good mother. I remember having the baby blues a lot longer after his birth. I was so scared of how people would react to him and how some would be mean to him, and all the questions other children would have. I then decided to read up on the birth defect as much as I possibly could. I pushed and pushed myself afterwards to figure out what I needed to do.
My son has a beautiful soul. He always smiled. I couldn’t believe how fast he learned. He walked at 9 months. At times I would have to comfort him because he would get frustrated because of his arm. I’ve tried to get him on SSI countless times and was denied every time, finally I just quit trying.
One day I took Baby Ty to my doctor’s appointment at Coteau des Prairies hospital, and the doctor looked at Baby Ty and we started talking about him. The doctor asked me all kinds of questions about him and what I was doing for him and if I was getting any assistance for him. It was amazing. It was like this is the only doctor that ever cared about Baby Ty. She made some calls and scheduled an appointment at the Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis. Since then, we have made 3 trips to the Shriners Hospital to get Baby Ty set up and fitted for a prosthetic arm.
At one of his visits, he was gifted a Teddy bear by Southwest Airlines and Build-A-Bear, in honor of September 9 being National Teddy Bear Day. Shriners was handing them out to the children in the hospital to comfort them during these distressing times. He absolutely loved it and it made the entire visit so much more relaxed for him.
I couldn’t believe how quickly everything happened all due to a doctor who actually cared about Baby Ty. After 2 ½ years of praying and trying to get help for Baby Ty, it was actually happening. I’m more than grateful – it’s like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I am so thankful for my prayers being answered.
Baby Ty adjusted to his prosthetic arm really quickly and was able to grab things with it after only a few tries. It’s an ongoing process as adjustments will have to be made as he grows and when he learns what he needs to learn regarding his prosthetic arm, he can move on to a more advanced prosthetic arm.
His Teddy bear has been right there with him, helping him through his process. When my son goes to bed, he always runs for his Teddy bear. He will lay down and comfort himself, then covers his Teddy up so he isn’t cold. He’ll hug and give his Teddy a kiss goodnight. He really finds a lot of comfort in his Teddy.
This month is our birthday and Baby Ty was the best birthday gift ever. I am thankful God gave him to me to care for and love.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sara Farmer of Sisseton, South Dakota. The stories we feature on Love What Matters are representative of the values we cherish: Hope, support, kindness, healing, and compassion. This story, born out of the incredible relationship between Southwest Airlines and Build a Bear, hits on every single one of those values and reminds us all to push the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of.
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