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.
Get the right equipment
See if your local specialty store can make modifications for you, and if not, ask if they have any suggestions on who can. If you know your way around the toolshed, you may be able to make some yourself, like lowering a changing station to better suit your height in a wheelchair. You may want to talk to others in a similar position to see what they did and how you might replicate it.
Modify your home
Start by removing loose carpeting and rugs. They can get caught in a wheelchair’s wheels or may lead to slipping if you’re rushing after a runaway baby. If you have trouble gripping or are in a wheelchair, replace your door knobs with levers. Door knobs can be difficult to turn, but a lever is easily pushed down. There will be times when you want no delay in getting to your child, and little things will add up in the long run.
The first week alone will be chaos, and things like cooking will fall by the wayside. See if anyone can stop by periodically to check on you and your significant other to see if you need a casserole tossed in the oven, or if they can watch the baby for an hour while you take a nap.
Take care of yourself
Before the baby arrives, make sure you are fully stocked up on the things that help you unwind and bring you joy. Eat healthily but allow yourself to have things just because they taste good, too. Use your favorite scented candle when you are trying to relax at night, but make sure that it’s nowhere near baby, and don’t forget to blow it out before you fall asleep. Remember the importance of finding support? Use it. Try to have some time to yourself at least once a week where you enjoy even just 30 minutes of a quiet or peaceful activity, like listening to your favorite music.
Parenthood is a difficult road, no matter what your level of ability. And yet, it is a time that should be joyous for you and baby. With the right tools and preparation, you can be successful and confident when entering this new stage of life. It might be a rocky journey, but one that is well worth the stress.
If you haven’t already read the book, it’s a great place to start - Relationship Reboot: Break free from the bad habits in your relationship.
David B. Younger, Ph.D. is the creator of Love After Kids, for couples that have grown apart since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couples therapist with a web-based private practice and lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, 13-year-old son, 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old toy poodle.