Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 35 | Number 2 - Page 3

didn’t know it at that time, but dizzy spells happened to women without disabilities too. Did you have any problems or complications during your third trimesters? The dizzy spells continued. I had to catheterize myself more often to prevent leakage. I had heartburn pretty bad. I also had to use a transfer board and had people help me with transfers at times. I needed help turning in bed as well. I had a broken leg during my second pregnancy. Transfers and mobility were even harder. I couldn’t drive for months. Honestly, the pregnancy seemed like a walk in the park once I recovered from the fractures. How did you plan for delivery? I saw an SCI doctor twice during my pregnancies, and she and my OBGYN spoke a few times. My OBGYN wanted me to be induced so he could be present for the delivery. My SCI doctor wanted me to have an epidural to avoid Automatic Dysreflexia if possible. How did labor and delivery go? Honestly, I was very surprised by how smoothly both my deliveries went. With my first child, I was given medicine to ripen my cervix and was induced. I could not believe that my body, which seems so disconnected from me at times, finally did exactly as it was supposed to do. I was even told that I helped to move the baby down whenever I pushed, which was surprising given my paralysis. I was in labor for over 17 hours with my second baby. I think it took so long because I didn’t get the cervix ripening drug. I dilated quickly right at the end. When the doctor finally came to check on me, my son’s head was already out. I knew something was happening, but I thought it was just another hard contraction. How does it feel to be a mother? Being a parent with my husband is the most rewarding thing in my life. The love and immense joys of parenting overshadows the exhaustion and frustration that comes with it. I look at my children and see two miracles, and I’m so grateful that I overcame my worries and insecurities about becoming a mom because I would’ve never experienced this feeling of unconditional love and being loved by a child. I do sometimes struggle with needing help with my kids or keeping my household running smoothly. It’s almost like I feel like I have to prove I can do it despite the fact that every parent needs help at times. That feeling does fade, and I feel grateful that I have the support I need. I’ve had a SCI for almost 20 years, and, in general, I’ve come to accept my limitations. But every now and then I get this pang of immense sadness. It’s like being a parent sometimes emphasizes the little things I miss, like being able to hold their hands as we walk down the street or easily lay in the grass to look at the clouds with them. On the other hand, I know having a disability has helped me develop strengths that help me be a better parent. My disability has helped my kids, too. They’ve learned empathy and are more accepting of differences in others. I think my oldest did have to grow up a little quicker than her peers in some areas, but I see that she feels a sense of pride at being able to help others. She even received an award at school for her willingness to work with anyone and enthusiasm in help others. I learn from my kids every day about love and life and dreams. Like most parents, I’m always working to become a better person, a better parent. It’s not because I have a disability. I want to improve and grow because I’m human. Editor’s Note: Views and information found in this article are not meant to replace the advice from a medical professional. Consult your health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment. Questions and Answers: Choosing to have children after SCI What do I need to know about having children? Most people with spinal cord injury (SCI) naturally think about having children. There’s a lot to consider, but everyone with SCI should start with five facts in mind when thinking about having children. 1. You weigh the pros and cons of having children like most others who are considering having children. 2. To make an informed choice, make sure any information and advice you seek is from knowledgeable people and professionals. 3. There may be problem issues, but there are solutions to managing most problems. 4. You can and should have children if you choose - no matter your injury level. 5. The positive aspects of having children usually outweigh the difficulties. Where do I get information and advice from knowledgeable people and professionals? It’s never too soon to start looking for information if you want to have children. But you should be mindful that there’s not a lot of information on having children and parenting after SCI. And there aren’t a lot of trained medical professionals that can give you sound advice. Through the Looking Glass is a good place to start learning about parenting. It has pioneered research, training, and services for families in which a child, parent or grandparent has a disability or medical issue. Talk with your physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor/physician if you want professional advice. This might be the SCI doctor you had in rehab and still may see each year for checkups. If you don’t know or see a SCI specialist annually, you can find one near you here. UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System 3