For a long time I didn’t want children, not because I did not think I could cope with it, but because I wanted a career - it felt like it was hard enough to develop that as a disabled person without the breaks and part time working that I saw other Mum’s doing.
However, my Mum always said she knew I’d be a Mum one day when the time was right. She was right of course. Once I’d married my husband Peter (also disabled), we began trying for a baby. It took us three and a half years to get pregnant. I never had any real problems when I was pregnant – when I was out and about I expected someone to see the bump and my white stick and wonder if I’d be a good Mum, but no one ever said it to me.
When my gorgeous son was born, there wasn’t much that was a problem. I did have one experience in hospital where a nurse questioned by ability to feed him via a cup (he was struggling to breastfeed) as I could not see properly, That really upset me. It was also difficult to see how much milk I was producing as I had to express it and none of the bottles had easy to read markings on them.
Once out of hospital there wasn’t much we couldn’t manage. I recall being pretty worried the first time I took him out in the pram, but as soon as I got used to moving it with him in it, it was fine. I couldn’t have my cane and the pram, so there were times when people just did not move and behaved a bit odd (I can’t make eye contact with people), but mostly it was fine.
I couldn’t cut his nails, I couldn’t see properly if he had a small scratch and I worried that sometimes he was upset but it was something I couldn’t see. But, I remember my Mum’s words ‘you’ll manage’. And I did. Being a Mum is the hardest but best experience in my life.
I did look round for support groups for disabled parents, nothing! There’s not enough support for disabled parents and it can feel lonely. I did feel out of place at baby classes sometimes, as all the other Mums were non-disabled (as far as I could tell). But I did make a couple of super friends; one on the maternity ward and one in a baby group. Both are still dear friends to our family even now, they just took us as they found us, and that’s what matters.
It’s not been easy, with both of us being disabled parents. It will always throw up challenges; the most important thing is to talk about it, acknowledge that it can be hard, but to talk about the positives, what’s good about our lives as a family and that, regardless of disability or any other circumstances, the thing children need most is love, security, respect and a safe environment where they can learn, question and decide for themselves how to see people.
My son is six now, he’s a wonderful little person, he’s just who he is and that’s fine.