Motherhood and disability
Just because you have a disability does mean you can't or should miss out on becoming a parent.
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The website: www.icantstandpodcast.com
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Peta: [00:00:03] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. My name is Peta, I have cerebral palsy. I'm a 30 something living in Melbourne, and I'm your host.
[00:00:18] This week's question required me to do a little bit of research, but it's some research that I was planning on doing anyway. If you'd like to ask me a question, there are three ways you can do so. One by my Instagram at @petahooke P.E.T.A.H.O.O.KE [Spells it out]. By my email, at email@example.com. Or via my website icantstandpodcast.com. OK, without any further ado, let's get into it.
[00:01:05] This week's question came from Nicole. Nicole asked me, Peta, do you want to be a mother one day? When I received this question, I knew my gut instinct for myself was, yes, I did want to be a mother, but because it's an area that I haven't entered into yet, what do I do? Well, I hit the books, I did some research. And to be honest, it was pretty hard to find information to tell you that gave you an outline of what to expect when you're expecting and you have a disability.
[00:01:44] And that, to me, just illustrates how much society is not ready for people with disabilities to be parents. Parents who have disabilities said the hardest thing that they had to cope with was the discrimination that they had experienced in society. The burden of care, how would someone with a disability be able to cope with looking after themselves and also someone else? Is it putting too much responsibility on the child if the child has a parent with a disability? Is there too much expectation on a child who has a parent with a disability to assist them in day to day activities? That they would miss out on a childhood. Sitting here today, a lot of these attitudes feel really outdated. But I have even experienced some discrimination in this area.
[00:02:46] Full disclosure, I know I've spoken about this before in an early podcast, but I had a personal care when I was 17. Asked me why I had my period. She believed that people like me in my circumstance should be sterilised. Now, this was only in 2007 and I know for some Genz that seems like ages ago, but in reality, it's really not. So I can appreciate why many people with disabilities have experienced the issues. As I continued to research, there seems to be quite a lot of support groups of people with disabilities who are parents. Quite a lot of products out there. For example, you can get, which is really cool, motorised cribs. So the bed of the crib can go up and down. So someone in a sitting position can still reach and put their baby down to sleep.
[00:04:00] It's still, I believe, a really new market that many people haven't considered. For example, I was speaking to a baby sleep specialist. Long story, but I was. I asked her what sort of support she considered for parents who have disabilities. She said that she'd never considered it. And that, to me, just shows how much people in the medical profession haven't considered this next life stage, the people with disabilities deserve to have, if they want it. There was a fantastic exposé by a lady named Eliza Hull here in Australia. She went and interviewed a number of people who are parents who have a disability. I found really fascinating to see how different people with different disabilities, first of all, how their challenges varied so much, and secondly, how much they overcame each of those challenges. Just like anyone else, pregnancy is a pretty individualised thing. So is parenting. Each person chooses to do things a certain way.
[00:05:24] I acknowledge being pregnant sort of scares me. My body has never failed me, but when you get one from the beginning, that isn't quite the ordinary. I'm very aware that anything could happen. And many women who are 100 per cent healthy have difficulty, so I'm not naive that this is going to be a challenging period of my life when I decide to enter it. I mean, everything from deep vein thrombosis to me sitting down all the time, having to sit down in the uncomfortableness of being pregnant, I know will be an issue. That I will have to get fitter and work on my personal fitness. As far as labour, from what I understand, I have the option of a C-section or a vaginal birth, just like any other female. And because I'm not paralysed and I have feeling throughout my body, I'm pretty confident that I would be able to push.
[00:06:32] If life does work out in this way and I do have children, I'm very confident that I'll be able to cope. I'm very resourceful and I'm very used to solving problems. What people I think forget about people with disabilities is we're not going into a situation without any research and preparedness. We're very I would say as a whole, very prepared and aware of the challenges ahead of us. The amount of research that anybody with a disability would undertake either by themselves or by an advocate for them, would help ensure that almost anything is possible.
[00:07:21] I hope one day that pregnancy and disability isn't an unusual thing. That it's as normal and as expected as it is for people who don't have disabilities. While I'm aware that I'm not the only person ever to want to have a child and have a disability. I know I'm going to be, again, probably the odd one out maybe at a mothers group, I'll be the only one in a wheelchair. But that's okay, I'm used to it and I know it will be super challenging. I mean, I can't deny I'm as naive as probably as many people before they start their parenting journey, but I'm up for the challenge. I don't see why I should miss out on being a mother just because I have a disability. Yes, I'll probably get some really nosy people when I go down to the shops, ask me whether it's actually my child, I'm prepared for that. And yes, at times it is going to suck, and I'm probably going to think, why? How do I ever think I was going to do this? But how is that any different to anybody else embarking on parenthood? Doesn't look easy. Nobody says it's easy. So the fact that it's a little bit differently challenging for me. That's ok. If you have a child with a disability and you wonder whether this part of their life will ever happen for them. Know that I'm pretty determined for it to happen to me, so with time and support, if they want it to; there's no reason why it shouldn't happen to them either.
[00:09:24] I hope you enjoyed a little bit of an explanation of motherhood when you have a disability. If you did enjoy the episode, can I encourage you to write and review on Apple podcasts? If that's where you listen. Or click the heart on Spotify. Better yet share it with a friend or share on social media. It all helps as you know. It's OK until next week bye.