Parenthood isn’t easy for anyone, but it can be especially hard if you have a disability. However hard it may be, know that you are capable, and it is rewarding. If you’re looking to have your first child, here are 13 things you should know first.
- You are not alone. There are an estimated 4.1 million to 9 million parents with disabilities in the United States, and there are likely people who come from very similar situations as yours. Whatever you experience, someone has likely gone through it before.
- Try to find resources that match your situation. There are many resources both online and offline that can be tailored to your disability and circumstance. Thanks to online search engines, you can find local resources that will help you in preparation for your baby.
- You will raise empathetic children. Studies have been done on children of disabled parents, and they have shown that they show greater emotional literacy. Your children will see through your example and your experiences how to be kind and accept others who are different.
- Be open with your children about your disability. Your child will be curious, as all children tend to be. Help your child understand your physical limitations and where they might accidentally hurt you.
- You are capable. An article on the Telegraph interviewed women with different disabilities and explored their coping mechanisms. When they didn’t have a partner to back them up, they found comfort in the disabled community and were able to parent successfully.
- Enlist the help of people around you. If you have a partner raising your child with you, communicate your expectations. Don’t expect anyone to read your mind. If you have friends or family who are willing to help, reach out and ask for help.
- Look into communities both online and offline. When searching online, you can often find Facebook support groups of parents who understand and know your situation. If your disability leaves you confined to a house, online communities can be especially helpful in making connections and coping.
- Plan ahead financially. There’s a lot to take care of before the baby is born. According to NerdWallet, you should draft a pre-baby budget. Anticipate all costs, from the hospital fees down to the last diaper.
- Make sure you are covered by your insurance. It’s easy to forget about insurance details, especially with all the other baby prep you’re likely to be doing. Make sure you add your baby to your health insurance plan and that every possible situation is covered. Babies are expensive.
- Plan for child care. If you’re working, look into both daycare and nanny options. If your partner is staying at home with your child, make a plan for sharing obligations and helping each other out.
- Make your home ready for the baby. This means setting up a bed that will be easily accessed by you, figuring out if you want to put the baby in a separate room, and making all baby-related objects accessible.
- Install necessary modifications if you haven’t already. If you need to, install grab bars in the tub to assist in bathing your children, or non-slip rugs for mobility. Remove tripping hazards, and label baby things with textured tape or braille for meal preparation.
- Become emotionally resilient. Part of emotional resilience means knowing when to take care of yourself and when to let things go. Take advantage of leisure time so you can relax.
There’s a lot to look out for, but it’s important that most of all, you love your child. Find things you both can enjoy together, and revel in the joy of watching your child grow. Your child is a great treasure, and you will share incredible moments together.
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