Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Parenting With a Disability

I have chronic progressive MS. Because of this diagnosis, my husband and I decided not to have children. We thought a pregnancy would hurt my condition. We also wondered if I would I be able to care for a child? That is, could I actually carry a baby in a wheelchair? How about diapering a baby, getting baby in and out of the crib and bathing? These were all legitimate concerns, but certainly problems which could be overcome with a little creative thinking and open mindedness. I wasn't the first disabled woman facing the challenges of parenting, nor would I be the last. (whudda thunk!!)

When I researched parenting with a disability I found all kinds of resources. Originally, I was concerned about carrying a baby. In my research it was suggested I carry the baby in a SLING. The sling was an ordinary sling I bought at www..sears.ca.  I'm sure any department store would carry this type of item. At any rate the sling was ideal. It allowed me to carry my child while having both hands free to run my wheelchair.

The next hurdle I had to overcome was diapering a baby. I had lost my fine motor control so I was apprehensive about diapering a baby fearing I'd poke him/her with the pins. Disposable diapers were not an option for us because they were very expensive. Besides, disposable diapers are not environmentally friendly. Luckily there was another option. We opted for cloth, fitted diapers with velcro fasteners. We simply googled 'fitted diapers' and found many companies that made them. Our dream of becoming parents was starting to look like it might come true!

The final obstacle we had to overcome was finding an ACCESSIBLE CRIB.  Every prototype we looked at was problematic, so we created our own. We cut the legs off a metal crib and mounted it on the wall to allow for wheelchair access. We also converted the downward moving side to an upward moving side using a pulley system. We donated the crib design to the Tetra Society of North America. You can visit their site at tetrasociety.org.

With all the obstacles moved out of our way we now felt prepared to have a child (are you ever really prepared?) We are now blest with a wonderful son. It's the old saying, 'if I knew then what I know now.'

I hope I've at least got you to think about PARENTING WITH A DISABILITY. We learned that if you want something bad enough you'll find a way to make it work.

Wheelchair Mama