If there is one thing I’ve learned from my two C-sections, it’s that pregnancy is nothing like the way it’s portrayed in the movies. Growing a human being is tough work, both physically and emotionally. From morning sickness to the anxiety that surrounds your impending due date, becoming a mother is a long, arduous road. Blindness or having a visual impairment should not prevent any woman from exploring her desire to become pregnant. If possible, those of us currently living with vision loss should adequately plan for our pregnancies, exploring potential services we may require after the birth of our children.
For those blind or visually impaired women debating whether or not they want to start growing their family, consider this pre-pregnancy checklist on dealing with your personal situation.
Checklist #1: Am I Ready?
- Ask Yourself, “Am I Ready?”: It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of pregnancy. We imagine a tiny baby gripping our finger as we sing them to sleep. We think about long walks with our partner while lovingly pushing a baby stroller. Make no mistake; having a baby is equally terrifying as it is wonderful. Sighted or blind, ask yourself, “Am I ready?” When you are considering bringing a child into the world, you need to ensure you have the physical, emotional, and financial capabilities to support them.
- Physical health is imperative for both parents. While women are tasked with carrying the baby, their partners must be equally responsible in helping raise the child after it’s birth. That includes late night feedings, sleepless nights, lifting a tantrum-throwing toddler, and being able to physically carry all the necessary equipment from car seats to strollers. To ensure a long and healthy role in your child’s life, all potential parents should be physically in good health as determined by your doctor.
- Emotionally make sure you are your partner are in a good place. Try to understand the sacrifice that is involved in parenthood, essentially agreeing to place your baby’s needs before your own for the duration of his or her life. Babies require an immense amount of attention. Undoubtedly, there will be days when you may want spend time by yourself or be alone with your partner, but your baby’s needs must remain your first priority. Sometimes, that requires putting yourself and your relationship behind the immediate needs of your newborn.
- Consider your financial obligations. Make a budget reflective of all the necessary items a baby might need, including diapers and formula. Evaluate your current living situation. Does your baby have enough room to safely grow and play? Do you need to make any accommodations to your home in preparation for baby? Start an emergency fund in the event you or your partner becomes ill during your pregnancy. Make sure you can financially sustain your home and yourself before deciding to become pregnant.
I personally encountered loss of my residual vision during the last three months of my first pregnancy, becoming completely blind. My husband, who’s fully sighted, was forced to take a leave of absence from his job during my last trimester. Additional time off was also needed to help me recover from an infection I developed after my C-section. We coped financially by relying on savings and utilizing his vacation time. Thankfully, he was in excellent physical health and did a majority of the work relating to my care and our daughter’s. Emotionally, we have a very committed relationship and have found ways to dedicate quality time to our marriage even in our new role as parents.
Pictured: Holly – 20 weeks pregnant.
Editor’s Note: This is the initial post in Vision Aware’s new series on Blind Parenting. This new Blind Parenting series provides first-hand accounts of how other blind and visually impaired parents have used organizational strategies with adaptive techniques to parent safely and independently. This post is divided into three parts with separate checklists: the first dealing with your personal situation, the second with medical implications, and the third dealing with resources and services that you need to consider. Head to Vision Aware to view the entire Blind Parenting series.