Dreaming of Motherhood is real for women with disability

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By Fiona Bridger, Research and Writer, Achieve Australia

We congratulate Nas Campanella, the ABC disability reporter, for recently giving birth to a beautiful baby boy.  For most women with a disability, having a baby is out of the question. I know this from first-hand experience.  

For me, this was confirmed the other day when I went to see my neurologist. Having children is something that I have always dreamt about. When I asked about the possibility of having children, I knew in my heart it was a no. When I heard it out loud it brought me crashing back to reality. I didn’t want to accept it. I still had a little hope that maybe one day I would be able to, just maybe.  

The truth that I don’t often share is, it hurts, it feels like I’m losing something. It feels like losing a child, losing the opportunity, and the doors have officially closed.  How can I feel so much grief and pain for something I’ve never had? 

If I ignored the doctors and tried to have a baby, I would have to stop all of my medication. Meaning I would have more spasms which could hurt the baby and cause a miscarriage. And even if I defied all the odds and brought a happy healthy baby into this world I would still have to breastfeed. This would mean more time off my medication causing more complications and more spasms again. Would I be able to enjoy the motherhood journey? Or would I be stressed out of my mind worrying about the safety of my child and questioning my abilities? Would I even be able to hold my baby?  To cuddle it? Without hurting it? Without squeezing it too tight or dropping it?  Someone will need to be there every minute to assist me. Makes me wonder who will the child think is its mother? 

Sometimes I wish I could be normal.  To live a normal life for at least one day.  My best friends have children and I’m very happy for them. But sometimes it reminds me that is something that I will never have. This makes me feel like I’m a failure.  I’m an only child and I cannot give my mum grandchildren, what a disappointment.  

I would like to raise more awareness about motherhood and disability. This topic is something I feel needs more attention as it is something that is not talked about. I feel like people see someone with a disability and assume that they cannot have children or that they shouldn’t. We need to create safe spaces so that people can share their feelings about having children. I hope by me sharing my story people will better understand what it is like to have a longing for children.  

Are you a woman with a disability? How do you feel about motherhood? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to get in touch. 

Published: April 2022.