To celebrate Mother’s Day, we spoke to some of our incredible mothers who are members of ParaQuad. Read their stories of motherhood below.
Becoming a mum has really been a highlight in my life. I’m a c5/6 quadriplegic and, against strong advice from my spinal doctors, became pregnant with my daughter, Beth, in 1986, just six years after my injury. By the time she was only 12 months old, she’d learned to climb from the floor onto my lap like a little koala grabbing onto whatever she could to pull herself up while I just focused on not overbalancing or falling because I didn’t want to discourage her.
Now 34 years down the track, I’m blessed to have two little grandsons that my husband and I love to spend as much time with as we can. Whilst my eldest grandson initially always went to my husband asking to be lifted onto “Nannie’s” lap, my second grandson has been like my daughter and is already starting to pull himself up onto my footplates, grabbing at my clothes and desperately trying to get up on his own. I absolutely love having them both on my lap for loves and cuddles, songs, and stories; it’s the most precious time for me. They don’t know any different than having Nannie in a wheelchair, and they don’t see any of my limitations.
I’m incredibly close to my daughter and very proud of the fabulous little mum she’s now become. Still, I never thought I’d live long enough to experience being a grandmother, so I feel incredibly lucky and cherish this time. Parenting and grandparenting from a wheelchair have their challenges, but I’d go through them all again in a heartbeat. I’m now just hoping to be around long enough to see both my beautiful boys grow into gorgeous young men.
Being a first-time mum in a wheelchair, I have no experience of what it’s like to have a baby as an able-bodied mum. In the beginning, I was so nervous; all those ‘new mum worries’ were overwhelming. I felt that I didn’t have the confidence that I think I would have felt if I weren’t using a wheelchair.
At first, there were certain things that I told myself I couldn’t do. I asked for a lot of help, but looking back now, I don’t think I needed as much help as I was getting. I had family and friends regularly visiting to help me out, but then COVID came around, and those friends couldn’t be around me as much. So I had to learn, in that time, to be confident in myself as a mother. and I became incredibly resourceful.
A few times, I was alone longer than I ever would have been if my family and friends could come over to help. And I just had to figure things out, and I became incredibly resourceful.
For example, I got to a point where I wanted to join my daughter on the floor when she was playing instead of simply watching. So, I ended up pulling over the machine that helps transfer me into the bath, and I put it in the living room between the couch and some draws. Now, I could get up and down off the floor safely by myself and play with my daughter.
There were so many little things like that. I guess being a mum and living with a disability makes you think outside the box. I know that my daughter will grow up with a different outlook on disabilities. My daughter is nearly two, and she already understands so much. If we’re sitting on the couch and she wants to do something else, she’ll pat my wheelchair and call me over, like she’s telling me, ‘Mama, you have to get in your chair because you have to come and do this.’ She knows that I need that, and she’s so patient with me.
It’s just love, unconditional love that they need. Someone said that to me in the beginning, and it really put everything into perspective. Sometimes I would get a little upset because I couldn’t change her nappy or bathe her or do things I wanted to. But really, she’s not going to remember who changed her nappy, she’s going to remember who cuddled her at night, who kissed her every morning, and who said I love you every day. That’s one piece of advice that I carry with me every day and give to any new mum.