By Rosemarie Siggins
There was no feeling in my legs and, as a child; I was in danger of harming myself. When I was two years old my mother and father, after consulting with many doctors at the Children’s Hospital, decided that the best course of action was to have my legs amputated. This insightful decision by my parents allowed me to lead a fairly normal childhood.
I grew up, with my mentally challenged brother, Jim Homan, in Pueblo, Colorado. I believe my parents made the right decision, about the amputation, because I could not imagine being confined to a wheelchair. My mother and father were very supportive and strong in helping me to be so strong, confidant, and independent. I have so much more freedom walking on my arms; to me it is just like having legs. I describe my physical condition in my own way “ If you take a Barbie doll and remove her legs, the region you are left with is what I have. I have all the female working organs, the only reason I sit shorter or more compact, as people say, is because I’m missing four sections of my lower spinal column”.I have a great passion for muscle cars, if it as a V-8 engine or a lot of horsepower, then you have my attention. I used to enjoy playing in mydad’s toolbox at the age of 3 years old and it never stopped. When I was sixteen, my parents helped me purchase my first car, a 1974 Chevy Camaro with a 350 engine. My dad and I adapted a hand control unit so I could drive the car myself.
Going to public school was somewhat of a nightmare for me. During the late 70’s and 80’s, school administrators were trying to mainstream those of us who were disabled in to classes with normal students. So administrators insisted I use my prosthetic limbs while I was in school. They wanted me to look like everyone else or close to it. In about 8th grade, I rebelled and refused to wear my, what I called my ‘fake legs’ to school. So I chose my way, how I wanted to get around was using my skateboard. After a few meeting with the school board they finally agreed to support my decision. My parents backed me up on the idea and helped me voice my opinion.
I met my husband in 1997, Dave Siggins, who worked in an auto parts store. We always flirted on the phone when I would call to order parts. One day I had to go to physically go to the auto parts store to handle a problem that came up. I rolled in on my board and started talking to this guy at the counter. I explained my problem and he was helping me handle it. I thought to myself, his voice sounds so familiar. He doesn’t look familiar. He was totally cool guy. He came from around the counter and knelt on one knee and talked to me eye to eye about my situation. He never looked at me in that weird way, most people stare or their mind is wondering and trying to figure out what happened to me. Dave helped me solved my problem and then asked me if I would like to go have a drink after work. I told him sure.
Our relationship blossomed from there we married in 1999. I had the white wedding with my little dress; I walked down the aisle with my dad carrying my bouquet of flowers. I sat on a chair, while Dave remained standing. We said our vows and kissed. My father cried the entire time of happiness for me. My mother who is the strong one sat with a big smile on her face the entire time.
Dave and I always wanted to have kids. I never wanted to go ask a physician because I was afraid the answer would be no. My mom was very religious and said, “If it was meant to be God would allow it to happen”. Well, God was on our side and we discovered I was pregnant. My pregnancy was extraordinary and groundbreaking, no one with Sacral Agenesis had ever carried a child or given birth. Many doctors were concerned for my health; not having any thing to reference from in the past, many were very discouraging. Some talked of abortion, others were unsure of me as a patient. I finally was referred to a doctor in Colorado Springs, 30 miles north of Pueblo. Dr Wolfson, a neonatal genetics specialist, was willing to take the on my pregnancy. He first spoke to us about all of the dangers. He said, “You and Dave are committing to a pregnancy and Rose could be basically, laying her life on the line because nobody knows what this means, no one has lived this experience before.” He then said, “Congratulations”! We did several ultrasounds and saw the tiny baby inside me. He was mentioning many parts of the fetus. Most I recognized only one I did not. He said, “This is the Femur”. I immediately responded what is it and can we fix it. He said it is a leg bone and the baby has two. I was relieved to know he had both legs and I asked the doctor are they working normal. He said the baby is kicking away. I was so taken aback by knowing my child could be normal. I was willing to except any child from God normal or not.
Dr. Wolfson’s main concern was as the uterus expands it may compromise your lungs and cause problems with your breathing. I was monitored more closely with having ultra sounds every month for the first five, and then every two weeks until 35 weeks. We then went every week or other day until we reached 38 weeks. I had no problems during my first pregnancy. All that was feared never happened. I placed my life in Gods hands and believed he would help me. On January 6th 1999 Luke Ryan Siggins was born.
My parents became grandparents and they were enjoying every minute of it. But, tragedy struck my family, after celebrating Luke’s 3rd birthday. My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My mom held our family together, she took care of my dad and brother, provided emotional support and kept us together as a family. Her death had a disastrous effect on everyone especially me. I knew with her gone I would have to step up and fill her shoes. These are big shoes to fill especially when you have never worn shoes. I did step up and took on the responsibility of caring for my dad who had Alzheimer’s and Dementia. My brother is mentally challenged, his mental age is about 8 years old, did not understand why mom was taken to heaven. I knew Jim and my dad would not be able to manage a house or do the everyday takes expected of them. So, Dave and I with Luke moved into my very small childhood home. Our move was met with a lot of resistance from Jim; he would leave the house, walk to the local store and tell the clerk he was being abused. The clerk would call the local police for him, and hewould then tell them many stories of neglect, abuse and torture. The police with social services would then arrive in a five-alarm mode and question Dave, my father and myself. We would explain to the authorities Jim was having difficulties dealing with the fact his mom had died. After several months, of being, questioned and being threatened our son would be taken from us we found Jim some help. He now is enrolled in Blue Sky’s a wonderful program, which helps him, become more independent and supports him with counseling and a loving environment to live in.
After Jim’s departure into Blue Sky’s our family life became slightly normal. Luke was in school and enjoying as much grandpa time as grandpa could handle. Our everyday tasks did not seem like tasks but just how our life became. A few years had past and we found out I was pregnant with our second child.
My second pregnancy was not as easy as the first. I would have to say it was one of the most difficult tasks I ever encountered. We had many late night hospital stays because I would start to bleed and doctors did not know why. It was hard at times to breath because I felt my chest was being restricted. I had pain in my abdomen where my c-section was located. Doctors were worried my uterus could rupture killing the baby and myself. Every thing was going wrong for me and my problem was I could not control it. Most of my life if I had pain or discomfort I knew what it was and how to get rid of it. But, now I had this little person inside of me causing me pain and discomfort. After afew months of being pregnant I was placed on bed rest. I had to be in bed all day and all night long, this drove me stir crazy. Just to sit and think all day about everything that has gone wrong. To watch my husband cook and clean take care of Luke and my dad and also go to school. I had to really find strength from within myself to survive day to day. I did look to God and wondered did I bite off more than I could chew. Would this second pregnancy be it for my life? I had to stop thinking like this and find strength not for me but for my baby and Luke. The day finally arrived for me to have my daughter. Dr. Weary, my Ob-GYN, for both pregnancies, had a hard time cutting into the old c-section scar and tearing through to get to the baby. The baby was under anesthesia for about 30 minutes. When they reached her she was life less, they worked on her for several minutes, which seemed like a lifetime. After several attempts to bag her, with no success, she finally took her first breath of air and you could hear her wailing of a cry. Once the baby was fine, doctors turned to me and found most of my problems, during my pregnancy. My gall bladder and appendix had to come out. After hearing I had faulty organs I was relieved to know it was not the pregnancy that caused me my problems but my own organs. On January 11th 2006 Shelby Cecilia Siggins was born.
After five days in the hospital, I returned home and tried desperately to get life back to normal. My c-section was not healing and the possibilities of it opening were very high. So I had to return to bed rest for a few weeks I started to feel very depressed about life. I thought back to when Luke was born I had no trouble bouncing back into everyday tasks. My baby laid and cried a few feet away from me and I could not get up to help her comfort her, because the fear of my insides falling out. One night I had a dream of my mother, she was upset with me because I just lay their doing nothing. I explained to her I could not because I was scared. She told me this is not how I raised you, I expect more from you. You need to get up and out of the bed and start living life, take care of your responsibilities. I woke up, I realized I was not dead and I did have a lot to do. Moving very slowly and with caution I fed my daughter and changed her. I held her and rocked her and loved her. I realized I came close to death, but it was worth it. I would do it again if I had to because I could not live life without my Shelby. She has allowed me to put life into perspective and know that I am not superhuman and I do have limitations. Without her wanting me, needing me and crying for me, I may not have come back.
Months pass and I have regained my strength and feel I have taken control of my life. My dad spends quality time with both of his grandchildren. I know his health is failing with every passing year. I decide my dad needs to go back to Nebraska, his home state, and visit is long lost brother. We packed up the children and my dad to drive the 10 hours to meet his brother. We had a great time meeting family and his long lost friends. Jack, his brother, along with his wife planned a very nice reunion barbeque when we arrived. My dad saw friends and family he hadn’t seen in forever. He enjoyed seeing the Nebraska country knowing in his heart it would be his last time.
A year later my dad was becoming tired more often and not wanting to socialize as much with the family. We found out he had Leukemia and it was in an advance stage. I made the decision to have my dad leave the hospital and come home immediately. He joined my mom in heaven on December 11th 2007.
With our loss of grandpa heavy in our hearts, Dave and I must move forward. I feel my life was placed on hold taking care of my dad; understand I would never trade in those years for anything. I must continue my life where it ended, when I came home to take care of my dad and brother. So, now my biggest question to myself is: What do I want to be now that I am grown up?
Pray for this awesome woman: that her testimony will continue to inspire others to go the extra mile, in Jesus’ name. Pray that her family will know no lack or have cause for tears, in Jesus’ name.