Advice 04 May
Balancing the demands of motherhood with my disability
By Grace Wallace
Last month I shared our IVF journey to becoming a family, this month I wanted to share more about my journey as a mum with a disability. I am now navigating life as a mum with a disability of two healthy boys. Bowie who is 3 years old and Ari who is 2 months old.
Now that you know more about me, I wanted to share small adaptations made so I can parent independently.
The most crucial aspect of raising the boys we discovered as parents is structure/routine. Nothing new and earth shattering there but I guess it’s something you’re not overly conscious of until you’re faced with raring children yourself. The fact I have physical limitations/mobility restrictions with lengthy skincare routines, does affect the way we parent.
Every day we have a plan which we are still fine tuning so that I can be an effective, independent mother. I cannot breastfeed so we have a steady rotation of bottles ready to feed Ari. Every morning Ray opens the bottles and puts them in soapy water for me to clean. Most baby capsules and car seats out there were difficult to click in. Through constant scrolling and some trial and error in stores I found a car seat that I could click in and be able to swivel so I can access it easier.
I am unable to swaddle the baby as I can't grip it tight enough. Ray will still swaddle Ari when he can, but I found zip swaddles that work for me.
I am also unable to hold the baby without causing my arms/hands etc to blister. I found arm pillows that Velcro on to help me to hold the baby independently.
I try to be innovative, creative and do a lot of research to find what best suits my needs and the needs of my family. I’m discovering if you spend the time looking at options, especially alternative from the norm, there’s usually something more suitable out there. It just takes a bit of perseverance and inquisitiveness. The internet is a wonderful thing when mobility is an issue.
One of the biggest discoveries I found useful is to take time for myself. I get my hair and nails done and still love shopping. But instead of a new outfit for me I'm buying matching hats for the boys. It’s therapeutic and good for the mind but does require an understanding husband and huge family support. My teenage siblings are great at looking after the boys when time allows. The same goes with my cousins and friends. So, it’s important to have that support, which I’m fortunate enough to have.
I also find it’s important to provide Bowie with opportunities to develop his own independence and take on responsibilities. To help me with getting things and doing a bit around the house. Although only 3, he can climb up to the cupboard to get himself something to eat. He can fetch a nappy, get my creams I left in the bedroom, heat up a wheat pack, or clean the kitchen bench. He loves to be given these little responsibilities which not only help me but help in his development. It’s a win-win which mightn’t have been so pronounced if I could have easily done them myself.
Growing up with this disability and having to strive to live as normally as possible, resulted in me being a little more worldly than I might have been otherwise. To have a more pragmatic view of what’s important and the realisation that the right attitude can get you a long way in life. I feel this has manifested through all my life experiences and especially, or most importantly, on how to be a good wife and good mother.
Early days I know, but I’m up for the challenge..
Photography by our family friend Shannon - thank you for capturing these moments.
All image credits: (Grace Wallace, 2021)