Here is a snapshot of a perfectly healthy baby girl, born into this world with no deformities or defects who began her infancy as a normal and healthy baby should, drinking milk, enjoying the new tastes of baby food (well some of them at least!) and already developing her bubbly personality. Her name is Stephanie or Steph as her family lovingly calls her. She’s a curious little thing and has already begun the process of standing up, holding onto objects, and desperately wants to conquer the stairs. You know, the things that babies do.
Yet, without her knowledge or understanding, her life and how she will venture through it, changed in ways far beyond what she was able to comprehend at the tender age of nine months.
This baby girl I speak of is me, Stephanie Soto but you can call me Steph.
My life was changed and turned upside down in the span of a few seconds or the time it takes for you to take a good deep cleansing breath. Go ahead, try it. Take a deep cleansing breath. That’s about how long it took. I woke up kicking and smiling but soon everything changed.
On a cold January morning in 1995 my mom dropped me off at my babysitter’s house. On that day, my sitter made a decision that changed the course of my life forever. She decided to run an errand even though she did not have a car seat for me. As she stepped out, she placed me in the front seat of the car, simply placed a regular seatbelt to hold me in place, and drove away. Now before you ask, my mother asked her at the time of my drop off if she believed that my car seat would be needed at any point during the day and my sitter assured her that she had no plans of stepping out that day. But her plans changed.
As she drove to the corner store, about a 4 minute drive from her home, to grab something that was needed, I began to cry. She turned her attention towards me, her focus no longer on the road, but now on the child crying next to her. When she regained her focus back on the road, we were already heading straight into a telephone pole, with no chance of avoiding the crushing impact. The results were devastating.
A nurse witnessing the crash rushed over to help, told my babysitter not to pick me up (because the severity of my injuries were unknown) and called for emergency responders. Her quick thinking likely saved my life.
The impact of the crash caused a rip in the top of my back and bottom of my neck. Medically known as the C6, C7 vertebrae. Medically speaking, I should be a complete vegetable with no movement, speaking ability or independence or simply put, dead.
My parents, on hearing the doctor’s reports, turned to the one thing they knew best, prayer. They asked God to grant me life, to at least allow for me to have movement in my arms, so that I may have an opportunity to play with my dolls and have a chance at other things in life.
In a miraculous turn of events, not only did I survive, but a few weeks later, I began to gain motion in one arm followed by movement in the other arm just a few a days later. The doctors and nurses that were assigned to my case were the definition of stunned. They truly had no explanation for what just took place. Without any doubt my family knew God had given me another chance at life.
I am currently 23 years old and doing things doctors declared I never could. I am, simply put, an overcomer. I have and continue to tackle life head on. Believe me, it has not been an easy journey. I’ve struggled and lost but have also battled and won…and in a way, that’s why I’m here. As I share my struggles of living a life with a disability as a teenager and now a young woman I will also share my triumphs and the things that have made a difference in hopes that it will inspire you and help you see your own worth, value, and the power that is within you to overcome any obstacles that lie in your path. At the end of the day, our goal, is to thrive and to live life fully. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as I join the Diapursity blog. I look forward to sharing with you, hearing and learning from you, answering your questions and making this an interactive experience. Life is a journey and I believe that we were meant to go through this journey of life with others by our side.
About Stephanie Soto:
Steph is currently working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She is involved with ØÜ Youth, NB Young Adults, NB Kids, as well as world missions. She is our first contributor to the Diapursity Blog and will be tackling some tough topics that will touch you as you hear her insightful contribution from lessons learned throughout her own personal journey. We promise, sometimes you will laugh, cry, and sigh but never without a new little take away to take on your journey…this beautiful and complicated thing we call life.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome Steph! We are so happy to have you!
Soto, A. Stephanie Soto Portraits. 2017. Photograph. Orlando, FL.
Follow on Instagram @ asotophotography.