People with physical disabilities sometimes have a long road to becoming parents. From infertility, to making modifications to your accessible home to ensure everyone’s safety, you may face several challenges along the way. Our tips will help.
3 Ways to Prepare for Life as a Parent with a Disability
1. Be Prepared for IVF
If you, your partner, or both of you live with physical disabilities, you may face a decision about fertility treatments. If your doctors have suggested in vitro fertilization (IVF), you will need to prepare yourselves mentally and financially for this type of treatment. Even though many couples agree they will do just about anything to get pregnant, you need to consider the costs of the treatment (click here for an IVF cost and regulation guide). In fact, one study shows that high costs are a determining factor in couples’ decisions to get more affordable treatment abroad.
You also need to understand that various countries regulate IVF differently, and some have specific regulations about the age IVF may be used, the number of embryos that a doctor can implant, and whether donor eggs or sperm may be used. Learn the success rates of IVF in various countries before you make a decision. Fortunately, “the success and availability of in vitro fertilization have given hope to many infertile couples who have not been able to conceive. Since 1978, 5.4 million babies have been born worldwide with the help of IVF.”
Once you decide to pursue IVF, start saving for treatments. More traditional ways of covering the costs include saving more money from each pay period, dipping into a retirement fund, or using a flexible health savings account if your insurance plan allows for you to do so. Today, couples are getting creative about paying for IVF. Some raise money through online fundraisers, while others use online auctions and swap and sell sites to supplement their savings.
2. Prepare Your Home
Once you are pregnant, prepare your home for your new bundle of joy. Many people with disabilities live in accessible homes with features such as walk-in or roll-in showers, lower counter heights, and non-slip flooring. Other accessibility features in your home may make it difficult for you to baby proof it, so plan to ensure the safety of your family. For example, if you have 36-inch wide doorways, get baby gates that extend far enough to accommodate your wider doorways. Also, if you have lower counters, lock your cabinets and drawers with childproof locks since items will be more accessible to your toddler, too.
One area of babyproofing that parents often overlook is putting guards or locks on windows. Even if you live in an accessible one-story home, you need to ensure your child’s safety by baby proofing the windows because he could crawl out of one or pull an open window down on himself. Most accessible homes also feature windows that are low to the floor, anyway, so it is imperative that you install guards to protect your child. Keep in mind that different types of windows require different types of baby proofing.
3. Reduce Risk of Falling
If you are concerned about falling while carrying your child, use this checklist to prevent falls. Many home modifications to reduce the risk of falling are simple fixes that you can do yourself, including tightening handrails and repairing broken ones, securing all area rugs with non-skid pads or double-sided tape, and using floor cleaner and wax this is non-skid. Install grab bars in your bathroom, especially once you begin bathing your newborn in your tub. Keep items you use most frequently within reach when you care for your baby, too.
Another way to reduce the risk of falling is increasing the amount of lighting in your home. Place nightlights along your path to the baby’s room and put one in his bedroom. Have a licensed electrician install lights at the top and bottom of stairs, and keep a lamp near your bed and near the baby’s crib. Evaluate your home’s lighting and make sure you add lighting to all dark areas.
People living with disabilities who long to be parents should prepare themselves for IVF, modify accessible homes to ensure the family’s safety, and take steps to reduce their risk of falling while caring for children.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
This 22 year old young man loves watching typical boy movies such as The Fast and the Furious, Rocky, and The Avengers. He can play them non stop for long periods of time just enjoying the plot lines.
When he’s not watching his favorite films, Zac is hanging out with his amazing girlfriend Kelly. They like to go on lunch dates, bowling, and out to play putt-putt. They also spend lots of time enjoying each other’s company through Facetime.
Zac’s tender and empathetic heart is toldly sold out for Jesus. He loves being at church and hugging everyone present. Worship music makes him come alive. His mama often finds him praying and while she can’t always understand his prayers, she knows that the Lord does.
Zac’s smile and tender heart proves what his mama would most like to tell a mother expecting a child with Down syndrome.
That there will be times when things are hard but that just makes every milestone that much more special. They give so much more than they take.
They give so much more than they take.
Zac, thank you for giving some of your time to let me get to know you. Your laughter and joy made my cheeks hurt from smiling.
In my two years of work with people in the Down syndrome community, one of the most common refrains that I have heard is:
I wish people would just look at me/my child as a person and not a diagnosis.
Can you imagine being labeled and limited because of an extra chromosome that you had no control over?
Kelly is 27 years old. She is active in a job that she has enjoyed for 10 years as well as the YMCA Recess program. Kelly has a boyfriend named Zac who absolutely adores her. You can see how special their bond is below.
Her mama Peggy adores Kelly and has walked alongside her helping her achieve her dreams. Their relationship shows just how much a gift Kelly has been to her mama… and how much a gift Peggy is to Kelly.
Kelly also aspires to become a professional photographer. These images are from two separate sessions in our studio. Both times I handed over the camera to Kelly. The first time she took a few snaps of me, but the second time she wowed me by getting these beautiful images of her boyfriend Zac. The eye contact and the joyous moments she caught… breath taking.
Kelly, I am proud to have met you and can’t wait to continue watching you flourish as you pursue your dreams.
This vibrant 16 year old adores the color pink. She came dressed to the hilt in her “Night to Shine” dress from a recent event. She won me over instantly with her shy demeanor coupled with her fabulous 50s style and shoes. How amazing is this dress?
I seriously wanted to steal the shoes so much that I had to take a picture of just the shoes!
Anya also loves singing loudly to her favorite tunes behind closed doors. She also enjoys watching movies on her iPad and fighting bad guys with her imaginary friends.
Anya, your shy smile made my day. I’m so glad that I was able to meet you and make you feel like the princess that you truly are.
Meet Zane who came for Newborn Pictures Greenville SC. This little bundle won the award for best hair in the history of all newborns here at Quiet Graces. We didn’t style it or anything. It just stuck up like this! We called it “baby Elvis hair.” And it’s to die for!
Zane has a remarkable story. His adoptive mom Randi always wanted to adopt a little one with Down Syndrome. It had been her dream since just 12 years old. When the time was right, Randi connected with the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. Randi’s little girl dream was coming true!
After a year of waiting, Randi was matched with Zane’s amazing birth Mom. Their relationship is beautiful. Gifts and goodies are mailed to Zane. Beautiful words are spoken between both of them to encourage and support. Their match was clearly a miracle of grace.
Zane came to see us at 1 month old which is the perfect age for newborns with low trunk tone or hypotonia. All children with Down syndrome have hypotonia which make them super flexible but also very difficult to keep in a pose. Their little bodies just don’t stay put in the same way as other newborns.
Zane’s mama Randi and I are very passionate about Down syndrome awareness. Did you know that between 75-90% of babies diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome in the USA are aborted? The list of those ready to adopt are around 100 strong, but most expecting mamas don’t know about the beautiful mamas ready to adopt. If you’re an expecting mama, please feel free to contact me here and I can put you in touch with Randi or Amanda to hear their stories. Down syndrome isn’t scary, but it can seem overwhelming at diagnosis.
Do you have or are expecting a special needs newborn? We’d love to help you plan your custom session with us. We want to help you show just how beautiful your baby really is. Contact us today!