What Works For Me

    Posted in Family/Parenting    |    6 Comments

In the form of a quick update:  Joni is doing just fine and recovering well.  Hannah had her first doctor’s appointment recently and she is doing great.  Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.

I want to talk just for a moment about how I believe the world perceives people who are different. 

Telling family and friends that we were pregnant was very exciting.  People that knew us thought nothing of the fact that I would be “handicapped parent,” and family/friends were very supportive of our decision to have children.  In fact, we were told many times that we would make wonderful parents…that remains to be seen. 🙂

Still, though, many people who did not know us very well insisted that some adjustments be made so that I could cuddle with Hannah once she was born.  The folks giving this advice were well meaning, but I must say that their advice bothered me.  You see, for my whole life, people have tried to “fix” me.  From a very early age, doctors wanted to do all sorts of procedures and tests to make me “as normal as possible.”  While some did get a chance, they all failed.  Now, I will say that the therapists that worked with me at a young age did wonders for me.  But, the difference is that the therapists got me to use what I have to function in life, instead of trying to change me to look like everyone else.

I have learned in 28 years without arms that I AM as normal as possible…as long as I want to be.  I need no doctors’ procedures, no kind advice, and no prosthesis to make me look like everyone else.  In other words, “I’m Not Broken.”  I don’t mean this in a spiteful or resentful fashion, but rather, I want to inform the world that making me look like you may make you feel more comfortable, however, I couldn’t be more comfortable with who I am.  I don’t need to be changed to fit in.  My attitude in life is to go full-steam ahead and never desire to be who I’m not. 

Hannah McDoniel cuddling with her handicapped dad, Chet McDonielI will never have arms.  I will never look like everyone else.  I will never hold Hannah like everyone else.  But, for me, this is not a sad thing.  I just have to learn “what works for me” in each and every situation.  So, the picture on the right is of me “holding and cuddling” with Hannah.  No, she’s not against my chest, but then again, how else would I feel her without being able to touch her with my feet?  My feet are my hands.  So, the advice I was given was to make sure and buy a sling to put her in so that she could be up against my chest.  We bought one…and maybe we’ll use it.  But, inevitably, I’ll want her out of the sling and on my lap or on the floor so that I can bond with, play with, and touch my daughter.  It may not look like how you would bond with your child…it may not look like how my own wife bonds with Hannah…but it is what works for me!  Hannah, Joni and I will figure it out for each and every situation that comes our way…and we will great each challenge with a smile because that’s how we believe life should be lived.

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Lana Sherer says:

What a wonderful site. How precious is your baby girl! God Bless all of you.

Friends, Lana & Thom Sherer

Ben Wall says:

Congratulations Chet! I’ve been praying for Joni (sp?) and are so glad to hear she’s well and home and that you all are all together. What a blessing you are to me in your steadfast reminder that I choose my attitude today.

May the Lord fill your quiver! bdub

Judy McDoniel says:

I have yet to learn to sit back and let you make things work for you. Please forgive me for trying to make you like everyone else.

Amy Wilson says:

I love the photo with you holding Hannah. She looks like she’s going to be a Daddy’s girl. Joni is going to love it–nothing makes me smile more than seeing my little girl light up the moment Wes walks in the room. Hearing “MOM” or “DAD” is such a great sound…but it’s better at 5 pm than 5 am:-) Looking forward to seeing you all in May.

The Midland McDoniel's says:


We love you guys and can’t wait to see you and baby Hannah. Tell the family hi for us.

Sara Street says:

Well said, Chet! You and Joni will know what is best for Hannah – listen to the well-intended advice because some of it is good, but reserve the right to take it or leave it!

Thanks for the new pictures!
We love you guys!
Aunt Sara