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When a Photographer Asked If I Wanted to Cover Up My Daughter's Limb Difference

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“Do you want to cover it up?”

I had taken Callie to a photography studio to have her 6-month photos done. We didn’t get to do newborn pictures or even maternity pictures due to her early arrival and subsequent stay in the NICU, so I wanted to make sure I made up for lost time.

I had planned out her adorable outfit changes, brought her favorite stuffed bunny to make her laugh, and scheduled it post-naptime to ensure she would be her normal sunny self for the photographer. We were prepped and ready to roll.

I wasn’t prepared for that question, though.  The photographer was referencing her leg.

When Callie was born, her left leg was markedly shorter than her right and her little foot turned in at the ankle.  It didn’t look “normal” by any means, but I didn’t quite understand the question.

“Cover what up?”

“Um, her leg,” the photographer said quietly.

Did I want to cover up her leg?

To make others comfortable with seeing something different?

Was I ashamed of it?

Did I want to hide that imperfection away in the dark?

Pretend it didn’t exist?

Would she not be accepted as she was?

Tuck away that unique part of her?

Hide those imperfections, the season, the story, and the journey we were on?

I looked at the photographer and smiled.  Callie looked up at me with her big blue eyes and clapped her hands.

In hindsight, this was the first step onto the path of advocating for Callie, and I imagine our lives would be drastically different had I responded any other way. Post-amputation and 10 years later, I’m so thankful that even though I didn’t know what lay for ahead for us, I knew in my heart what the right answer was.

“No. She’s perfect just the way she is.”

Originally published: May 26, 2020
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