Before I became pregnant with Jack, I wanted to see a medical professional who would be able to advise me on the impact that pregnancy might have on my condition, Cerebral Palsy. I wasn’t naive, I knew it would be physically tough but I wanted reassurance I suppose, that it was possible and I wanted advice on the birth. Would my spasms and general movements make a natural delivery difficult? Would I be able to have an epidural if I wanted to? Most of all, I knew what I wanted – reassurance that the events of my own birth, which caused my CP, wouldn’t repeat themselves. I knew it was unlikely, I knew there were no guarantees in life but I also knew talking to a professional about my fears would at least help in belittling them.
But despite asking my GP and searching online, I couldn’t find anyone who seemed to specialise in supporting disabled mothers. Eventually, we decided to go private and booked an appointment with a Harley Street Consultant in Obstetrics. He specialises in high-risk pregnancies, though thankfully he assured me that I wasn’t high-risk at all! He assured us that a natural birth would be entirely possible and that my CP shouldn’t impact much at all. He said an epidural shouldn’t be an issue and even recommended it. We were left wondering why we’d troubled him at all!
Nonetheless, it was just what I needed to hear and shortly after that appointment, I became pregnant. At this point, I began looking for other types of information and support. I wondered how I would cope with feeding, dressing, changing nappies and though I was aware of a couple of other disabled parents, panic set in! Just how would I manage?!
But again, finding information was absolutely fruitless. It was as if disabled people just didn’t have children, like it wasn’t normal. Most of the support I found was for parents of disabled children and not the other way around. I emailed the Disabled Parent’s Network but never received a reply and their website didn’t really provide much insight into the practicalities of being a disabled parent.
When our gorgeous boy finally arrived, I still wasn’t exactly sure how I’d do things but with the enduring support of hubby, I was determined to find MY way and in fact, it’s amazing how quickly and instinctively I learnt. I wore holes in all my jeans pushing Jack around the house in his moses basket because I couldn’t lift and carry him. As he got bigger, my knees continued to suffer as I carried him short distances whilst walking on my knees!!
Although I developed my own ways, I still think it would have helped my confidence to talk to other disabled parents and chat about how they manage. That’s why I wrote my book and started this regular blog – even now, there needs to be much more awareness of disabled people and what we’re capable of. We should be sharing our stories, good and bad, in order to support and encourage each other. And as always, society as a whole needs to be more aware, as many people have been very surprised to learn that I’m a mummy!
If you’d like to share your story as a guest blogger, I’d love to hear from you!