In August of last year I became a mother for the first time. It has been a wonderful journey and I wanted to share with you my personal experiences of parenting outside of our home using mobility aids, the good, the bad and the ugly.
With the way my conditions affect me, when I’m outside of my home, I mainly use three mobility aids; my walker, my manual wheelchair and my mobility scooter. I thought the easiest way to write about my experiences is to split them into those three categories.
My manual chair - The good
I have to admit, when we decided to start a family probably, the only thing that I thought would upset me is not being able to push a pram. It was a vision I had had for myself since childhood and realising that wasn’t going to be my reality worried me. However, my daughter was very poorly when she was born, so when she came home from the hospital she wanted nothing more to be on my chest, so we used baby carriers instead of the pram. I was holding my newborn but had my hands free so I could still use my chair, it was a lovely bonding experience.
As she got more confident and didn’t need to always be on me, someone would push the pram and I would push my chair. But there are circumstances where I need someone to be there in order to push me (if the camber of the pavement is particularly slanted) however, that would mean we could only leave the house with two people to help us. But my husband had the wonderful idea of pushing me, whilst I push the pram. It took a moment to figure out corners but it worked! So even now a year on, I push my baby in her pram!
Now my daughter is bigger she will sit on my lap in my chair. Which is super handy for shorter trips where we don’t want to take both the pram and the chair. We get a lot of positive responses from the public, especially from fellow wheelchair users.
Since she has started walking, she has realised she can slide off my lap, hold my hands and walk along with me wheeling behind (I move my footplates so my feet are actually pulling my weight but she doesn’t know that) She squeals with joy and thinks its such a treat. For me, it feels wonderful to know that she is in no way affected by Mama using the chair, its part of her ‘normal’. I feel we could all learn so much from children.
My Walker - The (not so) Bad
I tried to use my walker as much as possible when I was pregnant, as sitting for long periods flared up my sciatica. There was a moment when I was about 8 months, a woman looked me up and down then looked me dead in the eyes and tutted! I instinctively laughed, I couldn’t believe someone felt that me going about my pregnant business was worth a tut!
Anyway, when my daughter was starting to walk using her own baby walker my husband and I made jokes that she ‘walks like Mama’.
Then one day, I was locking my front door, my daughter holding onto my leg, my walker beside me, when I felt her let go of me.
She had grabbed hold of the seat part of my walker, and was using it as a walker! I was blown away. So off we went to the car, her holding onto the seat part, me holding onto the handles. And even though she is walking now, we still do it, she thinks its really funny.
My mobility scooter - The ugly
There are so many benefits for me using my scooter, and since becoming a mother the biggest benefit is that I only need one hand to steer, which means I can keep my daughter safely sitting on my lap. However I didn’t think about the fact that she was watching me using the controls, and learning, like the little evil genius she is…
I was in a large shop and headed to the tills, I let go of the scooter controls so I could get my loyalty card out of my purse, before I realise what was happening, she grabs the controls and shoots me forward, ploughing into an older lady... I was mortified, I’ve never been so appalled, I couldn’t apologise enough. Luckily for me the lady had her own grandchildren and laughed it off, her husband wasn’t so forgiving. I still feel so bad.
So yeah, I learnt the hard way, ALWAYS turn off my scooter when I want to stay us both to stay still.
I’m not for one second claiming that it’s all sunshine and roses, this has been the craziest year of my life, but without a doubt the best year yet. I’m excited to see what the future holds and I’m sure whatever it may be, I’m sure we will come across obstacles and challenges but we will always find ways to overcome them.