By Brittany Wilson
In the world of SCI and care taking adding any sort of change into the situation can be intimidating, yet alone adding a child. How will he help? How will he parent? How will I be able to do everything for everyone?
The answers are not easy by any stretch of the imagination and as with anything there are struggles, and as with this life the little struggles can feel like giant struggles. But after having two babies in less than two years I am here to tell you that parenting with a partner who has an SCI is possible and incredible! I am also here to give you a few tips of the trade to help make this life a little easier.
My number one tip don’t be afraid! Babies are resilient our spouses emotions are not. Try things, test things out, let them hold the baby, and encourage them to be apart of this journey. It’s hard, it’s terrifying, and believe me I understand that this little baby is the best thing to ever happen to you but it’s also the best thing to happen to them so don’t be afraid of trying things to include them!
Tip number two, baby wear! Baby wearing has been such a lifesaver across the board for parenting with a spinal cord injury. I tend to baby wear all the time so my hands are free in order to do the necessities, both for myself and for my spouse. For me when I had both my girls there wasn’t a ton of down time between having a baby and jumping back into life with a spinal cord injury so keeping the baby close allowed me to have all the baby cuddles while also continuing on with life. My husband, who is a quad, also loves to wear the girls, it give him the cuddles and snuggles while keeping the baby safe and secure. While our in public I try to keep our baby gear to a minimum so strapping the baby to him makes life easy for all.
Tip number three, find the gear that works for you. I cannot tell you how many different department stores, baby stores, and targets we spent hours “playing” in. I posted in countless forums and talked to many other quad parents about the gear that worked for them in order to try and make our transition easier. Specifics that did not work in our life was a changing table, not to say that it won’t work for you but for us the mattress works great. We also went with a cosleeper that has a collapsible wall so my husband could pick up the girls and it was also at his level because he can’t bend over and grab the baby. IKEA has a great crib that starts at a very high level when they are infants and is not super high so they can reach in. Side swaying swings tend to be easier to grab the baby in and out of. There are so many options out there and in my experience baby gear is super helpful!
Tip number four, things are going to go wrong and that’s okay. Parenthood without a spinal cord injury is hard and things go wrong every signal day but it can be extra frustrating when bowel programs take a little longer and you miss your child’s first doctors appointment, or when your spouse AD’s while you are in labor. At the end of the day though it will be okay.
Tip number five, find what works for you! I can give you all the tips in the world, as can anyone else with kids, but what works for me may not work you. If putting the car seat on your husbands lap works, do it! If using a nursing pillow around your significant other’s waist helps them hold the baby, then definitely do it! You will figure it out, just as you always have!
Life of a caretaker and a spouse is hard and adding a child can seem overwhelming but there is a community out there willing to offer advice and guidance when you need it. My final piece of advice is don’t let your fear keep you from jumping into the journey of parenthood. It’s hard but so beautiful! - Brittany