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Q&A: Do you have children?
Parenting with a Spinal Cord Injury
I have two children; both of my children were born after my accident. And it was something I would’ve never given myself permission; there was a lot of guilt when I was pregnant. I felt like I could barely take care of myself, how I was going to take care of another child? How wrong I was; it does work out. I did need a lot of help, but they are now 21 and 18, both in college, both seem to be moving forward with life. They jury is still out on how functional they’ll be, but they’re on the right path. It’s been an absolute joy, something I wouldn’t have traded for the world, and something I’m so glad was a part of my life.
Everything was so new, like I had no idea what to expect. So, when it was time to have the baby, I wanted it to be as normal as possible. And it was really fascinating because I was hooked up to the monitors and I could still feel contractions. They gave me an epidural to control muscle spasms, but I could still, like it made me realize that it was a whole-body experience, it wasn’t just you know, whatever. But it made me realize that it’s from head-to-toe, it’s amazing. So, I would tell my husband, here comes the contraction, sure enough he would see it on the monitor and go down. And then my doctor wanted to help and use like suction to get the baby out, and I was like, “no, I think I can do this all on my own.” And so, he and nurses went out and had a little pow wow for a minute, and they came back in and they were like, “okay, we’re going to let you do this.” And so, I pushed for 45 minutes and my first son was born. And it was very emotional because at one point they said, “what are you thinking, like in between contractions?” And I was like, “well, I’m really honestly remembering back to when I could feel, and like going to the bathroom.” And so, I just burst into tears, like it was so emotional just having to put my mind kind of before and to get through it as best I could. But I also think I had a little bit of advantage because I knew what paralyzed felt like. Women who get epidurals, they don’t know what paralyzed feels like, so they’re like, “how do I hold my legs?” “What are my legs doing?” I’m like, “yeah, I got my legs, I know what I’m doing.” So, I don’t know, it was a fantastic experience, it was really awesome.
My daughter sort of came to me later in life, and she was a blessing. But, I had a great pregnancy, and it was a lot more pleasant than I would've expected. It got hard near the end and I don't think that's unusual. I'm proud to say stayed in my own wheelchair for the process, and stayed independent till the end, although I felt like a little rolly-polly. And, I had a great labor and a great delivery. When I returned to work, I was very fortunate to have family in the area, so both her grandmothers—my mom and her father's mom—were able to do my daycare, and they came to my home, which was really wonderful, and it was wonderful for her because she really got to develop a close relationship with them. They still come by to watch her periodically. But she's in preschool now, so now I get to drop her off and pick her up.
We can’t have children. We just can’t have children, and I’d like to have a baseball team, truly, I’d like to have a baseball team. But that’s not going to happen, so we look out for each other in the best ways we possibly can.
We’re trying to figure out if we are. Need to kind of get thrown into the pool to learn how to swim, or if we’re going to take the stairs into the pool. So, we kind of need to figure out if we’re comfortable enough to do it, or if we just need to be like, “maybe we should just go for it.” So, we’re trying to feel that out. But we, and this we kind of go back to intimacy, but we both still are struggling with the time that you know—we like to think that when we decide to, things will happen, we’ll be able to get pregnant shortly after deciding and trying just like anybody else would. But even people who have infertility problems, when they’re able-bodied, they never imagine it would take them over—I mean, at first, you’re thinking over a year, and then you know, some people it’s taken them up to five years. And we’ve talked about it, but we haven’t necessarily faced the fact that it could take us years to do it. We think, we hope just like everyone else does that we’ll try a couple of times and then like “yay!” But you know, that’s always the thought in the back of your mind but you don’t want to focus on it because then it kind of takes the fun out of it. I mean you want to be having kids and a fun time also. So, I’m worried about being an older parent. I would rather be a slightly younger parent and be able to see my children doing well and growing up and see grandchildren versus waiting. And you think about, depending on what age you have kids at, and you say certain people—you’re going to be 60 when your kid graduates high school. Like you know, not that that’s, to me it is not the greatest thing, but you’re like by the time your kid graduates college you might not be just as physically active. What if you have a grandchild? You’re not going to be able to enjoy that grandchild as much as if you were at 50-55, something like that. So, that’s always in the back of my mind personally.
Two girls who were five and seven when I got married to their mother, and were 12 and 14, I guess about, when we got divorced. In those teenage years, I didn't see much of them, but we tried to keep in touch. It was a couple years before I really got back in touch with them after our divorce. But now, as they've grown up, I've been in touch, and I've, they're great to have that relationship. I see them the way any way else does with their daughters. We go out to dinner; go to a theater; go to a movie; they cook dinner, have friends over. And, it's great to have.
Yes, we have a daughter who is 33.
Yes, we do. We have a 16-month-old daughter. She is my true miracle, my true blessing. Now again, not knowing that I was or wasn’t going to be able to have a baby, every day I look at her, and I say, “Thank God.” I look at her, smile and say, “Wow, we’ve been together 10 years for this.” Andre and I talked about children way back when. Her name is Faith; through everything we’ve been through, we felt it was fitting. And strangely enough, it was the name that we picked out 10 years ago when we were in high school. We said if we ever have a daughter, that’s the name. So, it fit us through our life.