I knew when I fell pregnant with my son that motherhood would present more challenges to me than most and the thoughts about how I would cope gave me a few sleepless nights. I knew that I wouldn’t be the same as other mums, that I’d have to think creatively to overcome my disability in motherhood.
My hubby was amazingly supportive and even when I doubted myself, he refused to believe that there was anything I wouldn’t be able to do. His stance gave me so much confidence and from then on, we’ve focused on the solutions and ignored the problems.
Most parents have a pushchair at the top of their shopping list but that wasn’t even on our list. Two sets of wheels don’t work. So to ensure I could get out and about with Jack, albeit never too far from home, we brought a baby harness which strapped to me and worked really well even though I was sat down. It wasn’t perfect as I still needed help with all the clips but it at least allowed me to visit family and friends and take Jack for short walks. Jack loved riding on my lap and I called him my little joey!
Jack soon grew out of the harness and I had to look for other ways of getting us out and about safely. For a while, I strapped Jack on to my lap using the wheelchair seatbelt, which was long enough to go around us both. Hubby also brought us some reins but we found that they were too short – if Jack stopped suddenly or fell over as he sometimes does, he’d be in danger of being caught by my wheels. We had to give him more slack, so reluctantly, we replaced the strap on the reins with a much longer dog lead! It meant that Jack could go further ahead of me and I’d have more time to stop if needed. I told you we had to think creatively!
More recently, as Jack is now at school nursery and approaching his fourth birthday, I started to feel that Jack had outgrown the reins. Most mums, by now, would just be able to hold their child’s hand but there’s still a risk that Jack will run into the road and being in a wheelchair, it’s not that easy for me to react as quickly as other parents.
So we’ve now invested in a wrist strap, which finally allows me to “walk” holding Jack’s hand but gives me the security of knowing that he can’t run off! I can’t tell you the joy I’ve experienced, holding his hand in mine, just like any other parent and I think it’s probably something that we all take for granted.
Being a disabled mum isn’t easy – it took me about 20 minutes last night just to put a clean duvet cover on Jack’s bed! – but I wouldn’t change it for anything!