People with disabilities do a lot of regular things that elicit rather strange responses from the able-bodied world. For example, I often hear about how people with disabilities go out to eat at restaurants with friends or family and do not directly get asked questions by the waiter. Or how people get surprised to know when a person with a disability mentions that they have a job—a real one that is at an actual office, not just licking envelopes at home.
Now, imagine what kinds of reactions a disabled woman who is pregnant would get. No, that wasn’t a typographical error you just read. I actually did say a disabled woman —using a wheelchair, no less—who is pregnant. Some of you might be thinking—is that even possible! How could that even happen? Well … news flash, it is possible, and it just did happen—to me. Yep, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve got a bun in the oven, I’m preggers, I’m knocked up. And guess what? I had sex in order for it to happen—gasp! But I’ll get to that part later.
First, let’s talk about the whole notion of being pregnant and disabled. Practically nobody seems to talk much about it. Heck, people don’t think it’s even possible. Can disabled women really get pregnant? Well, unless what I saw in my first ultrasound was stock footage of some random woman’s fetus, I am here to say that it can happen and I am proof. In fact, it happens all the time. Women with disabilities have been choosing to get pregnant and have children for years and years. Why not? After all, are we so different from our able-bodied counterparts that we don’t have the maternalistic desires to raise our own children, like our mothers and our mothers’ mothers did? We are women first, with all the normal female desires, wants and needs. No one has the right to tell any woman whether or not she should have children. It is a decision completely up to a woman to decide. I say do it just to prove people wrong.
In all seriousness, having a child should not be taken lightly. It’s a life changer. And, mine wasn’t exactly planned, although I am extremely excited (I can privately tell you about my recent lack of faith in the contraception industry). When I first found out last month that I am expecting, my first reaction was—OK, that explains a lot. Then I thought, WHOA. This is huge. Then I thought about questions any woman would have—how far along am I, when do I see my doctor for my first prenatal visit—all that stuff and much more. In the interest of my baby, I also started thinking about how my disability would affect my pregnancy. So, the other questions such as can I carry to full term, will I need a caesarian to deliver and how will my mobility be affected when I grow bigger, crossed my mind. Having polio from waist down, I thought my pelvis might be too small for natural birth. However, my doctors assure me that there’s no reason to worry about carrying to full term. And it’s exciting for me to hear that, especially since the development of the baby is so fascinating.
If you are a woman with a disability and you want to have a baby, start researching it now. My advice is to check with your doctor with all of your questions. Write them all down so you don’t forget. It’s great how many women with all kinds of disabilities throughout time have been able to have children. When your doctor has answered all your questions, there’s only one thing left to do—and that’s to do it. Have all the sex you want until that home pregnancy test turns the right color. If anything, have lots of sex just to dispel the myth that people with disabilities don’t have sex.
I’ll be checking in every month or so to tell Access Press readers how I’m doing. It’s important to talk about this subject because it rarely gets talked about. I’ll talk about the baby’s development and how I’m feeling (so far, so good). I’ll bring up issues such as how to move around in a wheelchair while pregnant, what kind of delivery I’ll have and how I plan on preparing for the baby after it’s born. Until next time, happy sex to all people with disabilities and I hope that at least some will result in a baby!