When my first child was born in 2008, I was a nervous wreck, as most new parents are. I thought I’d drop him, or hold him wrong. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride, and having cerebral palsy only added to these fears.
I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy not too long after I was born (I lost oxygen to the brain as I was being delivered three months premature). My family was told I’d probably never walk, nor talk—although I didn’t walk without assistance until the age of three, I talked right on schedule. As a child I knew I was physically different than the other children around me. I understood I walked differently, and when I talked I stuttered quite a bit. Nonetheless, my family instilled determination and persistence in me. I strived to do my best at everything I did, even if I had to find a different way to do it.
My husband and I hadn’t really talked about having children before I became pregnant, but after we found out we talked often. I was scared of the kind of mother I’d be able to be physically; he always assured me I’d be a great mom, and that I could always lean on him. As time progressed I became at ease, but not totally confident.
However, after getting my son home, my postpartum intensified. Carrying a car seat was almost unendurable, and changing him in public—other people’s homes, mall bathrooms, etc.—was difficult. I still had to ask others to pick us up to go places and to take us home. I was beyond frustrated and often felt incompetent. It took a while, but I eventually became comfortable. By the time my daughter was born I was a “pro,” and holding her as a baby was second nature. My children are now 6 and 3 years old, and though going out with them on public transportation is still not easy, thankfully my husband is supportive and hands on.
These days I’m more apprehensive of the questions they will get from friends as they get older. Since before they were born I’ve wondered if they would be teased because of me, because I walk with a limp. So far nothing has happened, thank goodness. My son has asked why I walk differently, and I explained as best as possible. Besides that one question, I’m a mom just like all the other moms.
My husband and I try to prepare them as best as possible for the ignorance of society in reference to their ethnicity and my cerebral palsy. We let both of them know they are awesome, amazing individuals, and that I will always do my best for them. They understand, in the words of my 3 year old, mommy is brown and daddy is pink, but more importantly, mommy is mommy and daddy is daddy.
I pray that the love they are shown and the confidence their dad and I try to instill in them is enough to counteract any ignorance they may encounter. Knowing they love me and see me as “just mommy” is enough for me to know my cerebral palsy has nothing to do with how good or bad a mother I am.
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