Mollie Baltutat, 38, believed she was never going to get married. “No one would want me,” she worried. “I also wondered whether I could have kids.”
But today, she’s not only married but she has two children, Emily, 7 ½. and Brice, 3. She met her husband August online, after a few years of sporadic dating with unsatisfactory outcomes.
“I told August that I just wanted to be friends and was done with dating, but when he gave me earrings for Christmas, my mother inquired, ‘Are you sure this is just friendship?’”
A successful career person with a degree from Waldorf College in business and finance and ten years of experience at Wells Fargo, she feels that she is mostly treated like everyone else. “On one occasion a supervisor was reluctant to work with me and periodically, I wonder if I am passed over for promotion because of my disability,” she mused.
Mollie Baltutat, 38, credits a small town background with her confidence and ease in interacting with others.
“In Algona, everyone knows you. They knew I had spina bifida but they didn’t single me out or treat me differently,” she said, flashing a smile that shows her ease in relating to others. She didn’t walk until she was 3 and wore braces on her legs at an early age.
“My friends found things to do that I was able to do as well,” she said. “I swam, rode a bike, went to K-Mart and scooped the loop like the other kids. At times, I had a hard time keeping up. I saw a lot of backs,” she joked.
“My mother was protective of me, worrying I would get hurt. She let me get involved in church and in Girl Scouts and made special provisions for my care when I had sleepovers. In retrospect, I wish she had allowed me to take more risks,’ she said. “In physical education, I taught my teachers about spina bifida and showed them what I could and could not do,” she said.
Mollie cites concerns as an adult who needs specialized care.
“I had wonderful care as a child at the Mayo Clinic but once you reach adulthood, you age out of most clinics for people with spina bifida,” she said. “I would love to have a team of doctors like I did at Mayo but that’s not possible in Des Moines. Most of the time I’m teaching the doctors about spina bifida.”
It’s also a challenge being a parent with a disability. “I would love to have a support group of parents with spina bifida, so I could talk about raising children. You can’t pick up your children, run after them or manage car sets.
“You have to get creative. I’ve taught my children that they need to come to me since I can’t run after them. When I go through the drive-up window at Walgreens, they get the items I need so I don’t have to take my children into the store. But not everyone is willing to make this kind of accommodation.”
Her daughter Emily helps out too, looking for slippery spots on the sidewalks, holding her mother’s arm and “seeing the world through my eyes,” Mollie said.
“At times I wish she could just be a child, not an assistant.”
Mollie has a lot to teach others, about adapting, surviving, thriving and finding meaningful work and love. She doesn’t see herself as limited but rather as creative.
“I know what I am capable of and I am persistent in showing that to others, and teaching them, if necessary, about how to relate to me. At times, like when I started college, I was just thrown into new situations and challenged to figure things out on my own,” she said.
“Happily that has led to the life I have now.”