If this is your first child, chances are that nothing you do will be enough to fully prepare yourself. The good news is that’s okay. No one can ever be fully prepared. That being said, there is so much good advice out there to help you transition to being a parent as smoothly as possible.
Prep Your Home
If you have just given birth, or your partner has, not only will you or your partner be physically recovering, but you will now have a baby that will require near-constant attention. Aside from babyproofing your home, you’ll want to have some of the basics taken care of when you return from the hospital. If you can, clean your house before your child is born. Depending on your mobility, it may behoove you to get someone to do this for you. Either hire a company to come or have a friend take care of it for you while you’re at the hospital. Having meals prepped will be another godsend. I can promise you, you won’t want to cook a thing for at least a week. Make sure that your home is also as sterile as possible, paying close attention to trouble areas like the kitchen, sinks, and toilets.
Prep Your Life
During birth and your subsequent recovery, you may need additional support the hospital is unable to provide. Try to find a group that centers around your disability and ask for advice. There may be others in your situation who can provide some insight on alternative parenting practices that can make life easier for all concerned. You will also need to have a financial plan in place. If income is already tight, it is only going to become tighter with all that a baby needs. Find out how much time off you’ll be able to get, determine if one income will be enough to support your family, and estimate what your monthly costs will be once the baby arrives. That isn’t all. You’ll need to update your legal papers, such as wills, as well as get your baby registered on your insurance and order a birth certificate and other legal documentation.
No one sits back and thinks that parenthood will be a piece of cake. No matter your financial situation, no matter what your disability is, there are going to be challenges ahead. It isn’t enough to provide food and shelter for your new little one. You also have to provide love and security and foster a sense of well-being in your child. The best way to achieve this is to take care of yourself. If you are stressed and at your wit’s end, you won’t be able to provide the nurture your baby needs.
As a disabled parent, there are certain disadvantages that you must prepare to overcome before the baby arrives. Transportation to and from the doctor, for instance, can be a hassle if you are visually or mobility impaired. Auditory issues present other unique challenges; hearing parents can detect their baby’s distress from another room, deaf parents do not have this luxury. And as difficult as it is to accept, parents with disabilities seem to be unfairly targeted by social services at every turn of the pass. It is up to you to make modifications to your home and life to offset potential issues that threaten the safety or well-being of your child. A personal assistant, video monitors throughout the home, or adaptive parenting tools are just a few examples of how to offset these obstacles. Ultimately, however, your needs will be unique and only you and your partner can truly know your limits and what you need to make your house a home.
As hard as it is to think about, you also have to plan to care for yourself. The good news is that it is possible to indulge in a moment of respite, even when you’re working and taking care of your baby around the clock. Simple things like having a cup of hot cocoa while your baby takes a nap or, better yet, cuddling up for some mutual — and much-needed — rest can have lasting impact on your mental wellness.
You’re going to be overwhelmed. It’s going to be chaos. However, having a baby is still a miracle, and it is going to bring you joy like you’ve never known before. Just make sure you’ve looked ahead at potential concerns regarding your physical or mental condition and can provide your baby a safe and healthy home. It’s your right to be a parent and your responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure your child’s need are met.
Thank you to DisabledParents.org for crafting this article and submitting it to Berney & Sang.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.