For many people, becoming a parent and having children someday is absolute #lifegoals, but it would be difficult for anyone to dispute that it is a BIG decision, not least for those of us who are disabled. If you’re feeling broody, that’s not to say that it’s not possible to be a brilliant disabled mum or dad, but there might possibly be a few extra things to consider on your journey to becoming one. If you see kids in your future, but don’t quite know where to start, this one is for you.
Tip 1: Have the conversation
First things first, if you are currently with a partner, do they feel the same way about having children? As scary as it may seem, having the conversation and knowing that you are both on the same wavelength, or have similar timelines in mind when it comes to parenting, can be really helpful and productive for both of you. And it’s totally fine if you’re not ready, or the person you’re with isn’t, as long as you are both honest with each other and never make promises that you don’t have an intention of keeping.
Tip 2: Plan as well as you can
Let’s face it, parenting takes a lot of planning, and this is most definitely the case for us disabled people. If you are a wheelchair user, you might want to think about how you are going to get your baby, a pram and your chair in the car, if your energy levels can get considerably low, it might be worth considering whether or not you will express milk and bottle feed your baby at night time, so your partner and you can share feeding responsibilities. Find certain positions difficult and painful? You might want to make sure this information goes into your birth plan. These are just a few examples, and there are plenty of things to think about, but just remember, whatever works for you is the best and correct decision, regardless of what anyone else around you is doing or suggesting. There is never a perfect time to have a baby, but it is possible to plan and make it the best time for you.
Tip 3: Hack your way through parenting life
When the baby does arrive, enjoy parenthood! It might be worth becoming a bit of a parenting engineer, too, and hacking your way through the first few months. Perhaps picking your son or daughter out of their cot becomes tiring and tough, and you might find a way that’s much easier on your body by creating a side door on the cot, for example. Maybe body slings will work much better for you than a bulky pram, or perhaps you’ll come up with an innovative way to be alerted to your baby’s cries at night if you are hard of hearing. Whatever ends up working for you and your child, please share the information with the communities around you, on or offline. There is sadly still a taboo and fear around disabled parenting, with many people being desperate to be a mum or dad, but worrying quite how they will manage or whether they will be good enough. Knowledge is power, as they say, and let’s remember that sharing a hacking success might empower someone else to take the beautiful leap to becoming a disabled parent.