February, 16, 2014
On November 16th 1994 a mother for the third time, Karen Karlin welcomed a baby girl into the world. The doctors cleaned the new born and conducted the usual pediatric exams on this child. As they handed the baby to Karen to be held by her for the first time she couldn’t help but notice their troubled expressions. Karen was never the type to count then ten little fingers and ten little toes of her children. She just took it for granted that children come equipped with the necessary parts. This mother was mine, and the baby was me. As I lied contented, nestled safe in my mother’s arms the doctors told my mother that her that her daughter was born with an extra toe. My mom immediately relaxed. Knowing that this was the worst news they gave her about her daughter was actually comforting. That I was healthy was the most important aspect in her eyes rather than the fact I had eleven little piggy’s. The doctors explained that the toe is generally removed by the first birthday. As the doctors recounted the risks of surgery on an infant and the therapies and outcomes, my mom decided that she would wait until I was able to communicate my level of pain before I would ever be permitted to have the surgery. My mother was a big believer in the addage, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” She never considered me broken.
Month after month went by in the first year of my life. I had well baby check-ups with the usual immunizations. Always there was the push by the pediatrician to have my toe removed. And each month, my mother declined to have that done. As I got closer to school age, the pressure placed on my mother by the pediatrician increased. His concerns were for the developing bones of the toe and having the best surgical outcome. My mother’s concerns were always for me and what I was experiencing. I was a child who rarely cried. My two siblings before, always made themselves...