This pregnant lady misses her lap but likes the picker-upper thing
Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve discovered how important my lap was to me as a wheelchair user. I’m sure most people who use wheelchairs will agree that our laps are basically our third hand. We use our laps to carry things, we use our laps to prop things up, or as my partner Charles always says, it’s like I’m my own grocery cart. Well, now I don’t have a lap. I have a large bulbous belly. I can barely see my lap, let alone try to carry something on it. And when you can’t use your hands to hold something because you need to push your chair and your lap is all taken up too, you’re kind of screwed. The other thing is I can’t bend over anymore. If I drop something, it stays there. It’s also really difficult to transfer now. It might be because I’m the size of a panda bear, but that’s just a guess. So, basically, what I am able do right now is stay in one spot—continuously.
Fortunately, for those of us with disabilities who need a little extra help with things, there is technology. I have to say I’m not the most know-ledgeable when it comes to adaptive equipment, but I do like that picker-upper thing (I’m sure it’s not actually called that, but like I said, I don’t know much). That’s the best thing to be invented since sliced bread! And it takes care of the things that I drop for now. There are other things out there that I’ll probably need to start using or start doing as my pregnancy reaches its end. I’ll probably need a shower chair soon. It’s too hard to get in and out of a tub nowadays and slipping and falling would be very bad. It’s also really sad to say, but I think pretty soon I’m going to have to stop driving. Since transferring is so difficult now, I predict that in the next month or so, I won’t be able to get in and out of my car at all. And getting a fully converted mini-van that would allow me to stay in my chair isn’t an option right now (since they’re like a million dollars); the baby’s daddy will be my chauffer.
Of course, I also have to think about what happens after the baby’s born. As a parent who uses a wheelchair, one of the first things you think about is how to safely care for your child. What kind of cool baby stuff is out there for mothers with disabilities? I have been checking, and unfortunately, there’s not a lot. A website called Through the Looking Glass for disabled parents has some information. You can find it at http://lookingglass.org/index.php Here you can order a book on adaptive equipment for disabled parents. There is also what’s called the Babee Tenda crib, with sides that open. I found this at www.babeetenda.com/crib.htm It looked nice, and would probably work, but I’m not a big fan of a crib with sides that swing out. There are cribs with drop down sides which would be great for me; for one, I’m short and have short arms, and two, it would lesson the possibility of banging the baby’s head on the crib when I pick him up. These are hard to find, though. Da Vinci makes cribs with sides that drop down and their products can be found almost anywhere, including online.
Another thing that I’ve thought about is how I will simply carry the baby and push at the same time. True, I will have my lap back once he arrives which will make it easier, but I certainly can’t carry a baby around like I would a bag of groceries. Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of products out there today for baby, that all moms, disabled or not, can use them to make life easier. Stores like Target and Babies R Us have the Baby Bjorn carrier which is excellent for carrying the little one and keeping your hands free to push. I’ve read a suggestion from one mother who uses a small stroller to use for pushing baby in while she is at home cooking or just doing housework. I suppose it’s really up to what you are comfortable with and what will work best for the baby. One thing is for sure—you will need to save your money. Baby stuff is not cheap!! I decided a long time ago that I would not buy unnecessary things that the baby would just outgrow in a few months. And I am willing to pay a little extra now for things that can be converted to fit the baby as he grows in order to save money later, such as a car seat. How did our mothers do it?
I am fortunate to have a partner who will be there to help and to be able to have full use of my upper body to provide care for my baby. Not all women with disabilities do, but that’s not to say that being a parent will be any more challenging. The role of a new mother is challenging for all women. I encourage women to be as prepared as possible. I’m sure that women with disabilities who want children are well tuned in with their bodies and have a good idea of what they are capable of. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As I get bigger and bigger, I do it more and more.