Becoming a parent for the first time is often filled with feelings of excitement and stress as it is a new and life-changing experience to embark on. If you are living with disabilities, these emotions may be even more amplified as you navigate caring for another person’s needs as well as your own. Here are some tips on finding your footing amidst your disability and preparing for a life of parenthood.
Make room for baby
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare your home so that everything is in working order when the baby arrives. Before setting up the nursery, think about the location of it and how close you want it to be to your own bedroom considering you’ll probably be making a few late night treks to it. You’ll need to make sure you have the basics such as a crib, dresser, rocker and changing table. Go ahead and stock up on things you’ll need for diaper changes and clothes of various sizes now. If you’re going to use formula, do some research and pick out the best brand as well as easy to use, no-mess bottles. A baby monitor will also come in handy in that it will help you feel at peace and keep tabs on your little one whenever you’re not in the same room.
Give your house a good cleaning so it is ready for you to come home from the hospital, or hire a cleaning service to help out so you can focus on your new responsibilities as a parent. Whip up some dinners now and stick them in the freezer for later, as you won’t have time to cook during the first few weeks. In case a sitter, family member, or friend will be helping out, make sure you compile a note with important emergency contact numbers and stick it on the fridge in plain sight. Chances are your child will be crawling in no time, so it won’t hurt to go ahead and baby proof the home now. Think about sharp corners, wires and outlets as you go through the house.
There are a vast amount of resources out there for new parents that offer workshops where you can practice the necessary skills of caring for a newborn. The Guardian recommends “meeting an anesthetist before the birth to discuss your options, bearing in mind your disability and any other medications; using a sling that makes it possible to pick up a newborn with one hand; and practicing any new maneuvers you may need, or using any new baby equipment, with a weighted doll.” You should also find support groups and enroll in classes with your baby to help jump-start the bonding process.
Don’t forget about yourself
In the midst of all the planning and chaos, make time for yourself. Don’t let the baby overrun your home or your emotions. Instead, keep your room a sanctuary where you can escape free of clutter and responsibility. In order to be fully present and available for your child, you need to start practicing self-care methods now. Try meditation, yoga, a hot bubble bath with candles, or even indulging in your favorite pastime.
Communicate with your doctor often about your needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. This is a consuming time and you’ll need all hands on deck. Lastly, remember to enjoy the process and be sure to take lots of photos as it will go by fast.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. To learn more about Ashley and her organization, visit the site.