Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Start

I became disabled in September/October of 2006. Before I went to the hospital at the end of September, I was a relatively care-free 23 year old woman. I wasn't thinking about my future, I had just gotten a job I could be good at, I hadn't considered that my life would be turned upside-down.

Funny how things change.

I fell out of bed one morning. And over the course of the next week I lost the ability to walk unassisted. 10 days after that and I was released from the hospital with a wheelchair and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. My life, as I knew it, was over.

I hid in my parents' house for a year. I didn't know who I was or what I could possibly do with my life. And then, in December of 2007 my grandfather died. My desire to comfort my grandma and my desire to make the most of my life finally propelled me in to action.

I moved out of my parents' house in March of 2008. I moved to a new city with a friend. I met an amazing man in May, a man who saw past my wheelchair and put a lot of effort in to having a relationship with me despite the challenges my disabilities presented. I married him 5 months later in October of 2008.

In January of 2009 I was hospitalized for an MS flare. I completely lost the use of my legs and one of my arms. My new husband stayed at the hospital with me and we spent hours talking about what the future held for us.

So. There we were, I was being told by my doctors that I'd never walk again, that I needed to take a all these medications and I needed to do x, y, and z. Instead my husband and I decided that we should have a baby. And then all the looks started. The hushed tones. The sideways glances. The "How are you possibly going to care for a baby?"

Our answer was simple. "The same way we do everything else - however it works."

I got pregnant in April of 2009. Strangely enough I started walking short distances in the same month. I gave birth to a wonderful baby boy in December of 2009.

And here we are now.

I don't parent like other people. I can't do all of the same things other parents can. I am unable to do many things that other people take for granted.

But my son is 2 years old and his doctor says he is well ahead of the developmental milestones. He is talkative, extremely active, very sweet and polite. He is an expert at independent play, at helping mommy do things, at announcing his needs. My son is very in charge of our day. I don't play on the floor with him, but I sit and we play on the couch or I pull a chair up to a table and we play there. He plays on the floor while I watch. He picks things up that I drop. He carries his own plate to the table. He brings me his dirty dishes. He asks to go out and play and then directs me to sit in my chair. He yells "Mom! Here!" when he wants my attention. And I look, I cheer, I take pictures of him and praise him.

I am not a helicopter parent. Both because I simply cannot be one and because I would rather my child figure things out for himself. But when he falls, I am always poised to get up and rush to him. I say "Are you ok?" And he tells me. Sometimes he walks to me and asks for a kiss where he is hurt. Or he screams for me and I care for him like any mother cares for her injured child.

Our life is very different. But it is also very much like every parent and child relationship. My husband has been extremely involved, when he is not working to support us. He takes night duty, he takes our son our for adventures every weekend so I can relax. He massages me and cares for me in the evenings after our son goes to bed.

And I am fortunate to have such an attentive partner. I am fortunate to have a child with the personality he has.

And in many ways, I am fortunate that my disability gave me a whole new outlook on life and allowed me to find what truly matters to me.

The trials and tribulations of living as a disabled person and the challenges of being a mom are great. I don't know any other people in my position. But I am fine with that. I am confident in my choices and in my place. I don't care if I am one of the many or one of a few.

I am a disabled mom (sort of) walking. This is my path, my adventure, my life.

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