This is a guest post authored by DisabledParents.org.
Becoming a parent is intimidating. However, when that includes a disability, there is so much more to consider and prepare for. This doesn’t need to be an overwhelming time, as there are ways you can set yourself and your newborn up for success and a healthy life together.
Readying the Home
Making your home the perfect refuge may require some modifications. What is necessary will depend on your little one’s disability. Survey your house and ask yourself what might benefit from a change — not only now but in the future. If your child is expected to have some form of mobility impairment, consider widening entrances and installing ramps. Carpets should also be removed, as they can become obstacles and tripping hazards. Basic accessibility features are wise to pursue, as well. Replace knobs where you can with handles or levers, and have countertops lowered. Your occupational therapist may be able to offer more nuanced insights into what would most enhance your child’s quality of life as they grow in their home.
There’s a lot to think about when expecting. Some aspects are more daunting, none more so than financial planning. Lifetime expenses encompass a multitude of factors, but certain things can be funded at the state or federal level. Insurance, both medical and life, is an important facet of your planning. How might a policy cover trustees or caregivers? Are there conditions for your little one having full health coverage? Think also about long-term care. When it comes to Medicaid, be careful with your financial planning, as it could undermine your child’s eligibility.
A budget is essential to accommodate your new expenses, so evaluate monthly income and determine what adjustments might be made. When it comes to home modifications, you have options. Yes, a wheelchair ramp can cost up to $15,000, but with the right research, these projects can be manageable. You might be eligible for a number of federal grants and loans, as well as tax deductions. Reach out to organizations, such as the Centers for Independent Living, as they may offer financial assistance or advice.
Parenthood thrives on a support network. Having people around you who can lessen the strain as you make the transition to being responsible for a precious life can make everything seem less overwhelming. Reach out to loved ones and let them know that whatever help they can provide would be appreciated. However, be as specific as you can; this is not a time to hold back on any needs that you have. For example, you might need help with chores or errands, or it might be assistance with modifying your home. You could also investigate if your insurance covers some form of in-home health assistance. Such services can encompass both physical and mental disabilities. Other forms of support can be valuable as well. Join community groups to learn from parents in similar circumstances, and remind yourself that your family is not alone in facing the challenges and rewards that come with parenting a disabled child.
Remember Your Own Needs
It’s easy, amidst all the preparation for the arrival of a little one, to forget about one’s own needs. Yet, supporting ourselves allows us to better care for our children. Above all, be forgiving. Do not compare yourself or your situation to other parents, as this can create pressure that may exacerbate stress and anxiety. Practically, look to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try to eat nutritiously and stay active, even if that is just taking a walk, and remember to sleep as well as you as can. Allow yourself to relax, too. Of course, your focus will be on your newborn, but give yourself moments to unwind. Simply taking a few steps back to do something that you enjoy can be deeply rejuvenating, giving you a boost to better manage any physical or mental strain.
You may have moments where you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. That’s natural and okay; every parent feels this way at some point. Remember to care for yourself, make the changes you need to your home, and reach out for help. You are not in this alone.
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