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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Making the decision to become a mother with a disability

I started writing a blog back when I was having some serious problems with my depression and needed a way to vent how I was feeling in a constructive manner. Since then my blog has grown and I am able to write about a variety of different issues, not just from my point of view but that of others. I mentioned in a post recently about parenthood and explained how this will be something that I will blog about in the future.

Well we have started trying for a baby, it is early days and so as yet we have not been successful. That is part of the reason I felt that I needed to write today as yesterday was the first full month since I came off birth control and so when my period came I did feel rather disappointed. Deep down I didn't expect it to happen that quickly but my reaction to this happening made me realise how much I want a child. 

Before I met my husband Dave, I had never imagined having children and I always thought that it wouldn't happen. This was partly due to just being the person that I am, but I am now realising that some of this was because I was always led to believe people with a disability were not meant to be parents. As I have grown older I am now able to see that it is possible and a number of different people in different circumstances are having children with varying levels of support. Although this is the case it is still hard for me to know if I am making the right decision about having children, do all potential mothers feel this way? 

Some of my main concerns are how I will cope with being pregnant physically and mentally. As I mentioned above was the reason I started writing this blog was due to suffering with depression. My hormones were all over the place yesterday just through being on my period and to be honest I was an emotional wreck for no apparent reason. So if it was this bad now, how is it going to be for the 9 months that I am pregnant? How will I cope with it? I have learnt to manage my depression most of the time and I am able to recognise the signs much earlier than I once was but will I be able to manage it that well when my hormones are all over the shot, all of the time?

Secondly it is the physical strain of being pregnant. I am a full time wheelchair user and so my arms are everything to me. I already have some problems with my back and shoulders, so this is not going to help. Will I be able to stay as independent as I am now or will I have to become even more reliant on people especially my husband. This is something that I don't want to happen and so I am hoping that it doesn't come to this.

Throughout my life I have had a number of health problems, and as far as I am concerned my health is more stable than it was as a child and so so this shouldn't be a problem. But what if my health deteriorates? We have had to have that harsh discussion and we do agree that although this is something that we really want, if my health was being put at risk too much then my health has to come first. That opinion may not be popular with some of my readers but until you are put in the position where it is something you have to think about I would ask that you don't judge my decision on this issue. 

Then there is how I will cope when the baby comes. I am not actually as worried about this as I first was, because I have done my research. Google is a wonderful tool, there is so much information and ideas about how to do things that this part of it has been made much easier for me. It's the emotional and physical strain that people can't prepare you for, but then isn't that the same for anyone with or without a disability?

My parents are openly worried about me also which provides me with even more to think about because I don't want to upset them and feel like I am going behind their back. Although they have said that they will support me in whatever I decide as they always have and always do, which made it easier for me to go ahead with the decision to have children. At the end of the day I am their baby and they don't want to see me hurt. 

Coming back to what I want for a moment. So having said my concerns, why am I going through with it you may ask? There is no straightforward answer to that, all I know is that it is something that I really want and when I realised I wasn't pregnant yesterday I was so upset that it made me realise I wasn't just doing it for other people, because that was expected of me but because I really want to be a mother and have all the experiences (good and bad) that all mothers do. 

So all I can do for now is stay on the ride and lets see where it takes me. At the end of the day we may not be able to have a child for all sorts of different reasons and so for now I just need to keep going and not worry too much about what is around the corner. I have always come out the other side and will do so again which ever way life takes me. 


  1. Thank you for writting this, you've made me feel a bit better. I have tourette's syndrome, complete with the stereotype coprolalia which is the involuntary shouting of obscenities. I would love to have children and often see mums when I'm out and about and I think to myself I'd never do that to my child and some friends do say to me that I'd be a good mum but it does worry me how my TS would impact on my child and how people would react to seeing a woman with TS with a baby or toddler.

    1. Hi,

      I say if it's something you really want then do it; TS doesn't stop you giving love and care and support to a child and that is what is important, not the opinion of ignorant people. Yes, your children would probably have to put up with some bullying and might occasionally come home with bruised knuckles from defending your honour in the playground! but all families have their own difficulties. Feeling loved and safe is what really matters to children, and if you can provide that then you can be a parent.

    2. I agree with all you have said, but I can relate to what the first post is saying. One of my worries is that of what other people will think and whether that will affect my child in a way that is not fair on them.

  2. Just wrote a long reply to your blog and it's gone!

    What I wanted to say is this:

    I am disabled - both physically (I have limb deformities and visually impaired) and I have BPD.

    I really want to be come a parent, and I've been agonising about it for years. I'm 28 - and finally decided to see a genetic counsellor. My disability is undiagnosed, so no one knows if its genetic or what caused it.

    I'm hoping that going for test with a genetic counsellor (I last went when I was 8) they may have an answer and discuss possibility of starting a family.

    My worry is, if my condition is genetic, how likely will I pass on my disability on to my child? And would they be "more" disabled?

    If I go ahead, am I selfish in doing so?
    I don't know. Society would certainly think so.

    I still have a long way to go before I'm ready to be a parent (I have BPD and on psychiatric medication) but I'd like to at some point.

    I will be following your journey with interest and a whole lot of love and support. I'm glad you're blogging about this issue. I wish you well, and I hope the journey to starting a family is magical and enjoyable.


    A xxxx

    (I'm "anniecat84" on Twitter btw!) xxx

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Annie. One of my worries is also about having a baby that has spina bifida. Before seriously contemplating having a child I thought I could never terminate a pregnancy but now I am thinking about having a baby I have had to think about it. The fact is although I wouldn't want to do it, I know deep down that I wouldn't have a choice because I would not cope with a disabled child and so it would not be fair on them to let them live. Having said that I do not regret my parents wishing to keep me because I have led a very full life so far in between some very tough times.

      Whatever you decide, you are not selfish. If you think you can give a child the love and support that they deserve then that is all that can be asked of you. It's not wrong to want to make a new life, nurture and watch it grow. It is the most natural thing in the world!

  3. Thank you for that :) I am recovering from M.E. and depression and thinking about starting a family as a single parent (no, we're not all lucky enough to meet partners who don't consider us too broken to be loved!) so I like reading about other people's experiences in this area. I really hope it works out for you; you sound as if you both have a positive and responsible attitude towards each other and your future children and will be excellent parents.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, good luck for your future. I hope you get what you need from your life and keep coming back to my blog so that you can see how my journey unfolds!

  4. I recently read Tina Fey's "Bossypants" and there's a part where she, too, is having the dilema of whether or not to have a child. It's her OBGYN that states "Either way, everything will be fine." I immediately thought of that while reading this post. I think it's amazing that you've chosen to be so honest and upfront about your concerns of parenting, especially since you are using a wheelchair and you are worried about the health of you and your child. I wish you well on your journey!