I was recently asked to contribute to a magazine article by answering some questions about my pregnancy and the early days of parenthood….thought I’d share the answers to the questions on this blog…..


How old were you when you sustained your SCI and how did it happen?

I was 23 years old when I sustained my SCI in 1996. I was on holiday in Tenerife and there was a severe wind storm. A tree was blown down and struck me from behind. I heard the ‘crack’ of the tree and was pushed to the floor. My spinal cord was severed in three places and I was paralysed from the waist down instantly.


Did you have any concerns regarding your disability and motherhood when planning your pregnancy?

I think that when we were planning to get pregnant, I didn’t give a great deal of thought to how my disability would impact on my pregnancy and motherhood as I was just so excited at the prospect of the possibility of becoming a mum!. However, once we found out that we were pregnant, the concerns came in to my mind thick and fast! What on earth was I thinking? Surely I would not be able to be a good mum due to my disability. As my pregnancy develops, I’m going to get bigger and less independent; less mobile and more reliant on other people. I’m not going to be able to push myself in my chair while holding a baby; I’ll have to just sit still all of the time…..or push with one hand and go round in circles! Going out…I’ll never be able to go out with my baby independently as I won’t be able to lift them in and out of the car…..we will be confined to the house or reliant on others to enable us to go out. Surely when my child learns to walk they will just take every opportunity to run away from me…..another reason why we will not be able to go out as it won’t be safe…..WHAT ON EARTH WAS I THINKING??.....


How was your pregnancy and delivery of Sarah – were there any issues?

Oh my word….it could not have been any more perfect really……I had a very healthy pregnancy with no health or disability-related issues…I did not wake up one day with a massive bump that restricted my mobility! Instead, my bump grew gradually (of course!) and I adapted along the way. I remained fully independent throughout and was still transferring in and out of the bath and in and out of the car up until the day Sarah was born.

Unfortunately, my pregnancy was marred slightly by my anxieties of how I was going to manage once our baby was born. I had little peer support but was lucky enough to know a lady with SCI who had had twins a couple of years previously. I spent a day with her and her family and we discussed how they had coped at various stages. However, I still could not imagine how I would be able to manage with a new-born or a more mobile baby.


I was advised that there was no reason why a natural delivery was not a possibility and that the chances of needing to have a c-section were similar to that of an able-bodied lady.

I have to say that giving birth to Sarah was the most amazing experience I have ever had….I went 8 days past the estimated delivery date. I knew that I was in the early stages of labour on Tuesday 8th January but stayed at home and rested. Late that evening things were clearly progressing but it wasn’t until 5:30 the following morning that I woke James up and told him that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. We were both so calm about it….I got dressed, went downstairs and had a cup of tea, a slice of toast and a chat with my Dad before making our way to the local hospital at around 7:30am. On arrival, I was examined and everything was progressing nicely. The birthing pool was available so I got in it at about 10am. We listened to Classic FM and chatted and giggled in between contractions. James got in to the pool with me at about 1pm and Sarah was born at 2pm – she was perfect…..just opened her eyes and looked up at us! The midwife did not have to intervene at all so we did not hear Sarah’s little cry until about half an hour after she was born.



Did you face any challenges in the early days of motherhood and if so, how did you overcome them?

For the first two weeks, James was at home with us and I guess, like many new mums, the main issues were getting the hang of breastfeeding, coping with sleep deprivation and, most importantly, learning to handle and care for our little girl.

I figured out how to carry Sarah on my lap while pushing myself in my chair and many other things like undressing her, changing her nappy and dressing her while she lay on my lap. Also learning the best techniques to lift her in and out of the moses basket or passing her to someone else without losing my balance! Also mastering the technique of lowering Sarah to the floor and lifting her from the floor to my lap in a way that was safe and comfortable for her as well as for me.

By the time James went back to work, I felt confident enough to take care of Sarah on my own and my fears were not realised.

I worked out how to travel with Sarah in the car independently and believe it or not, since she has learned to walk, she has not run away from me once!!!  Crossing a busy road with Sarah walking next to me for the first time was so daunting (the dropped curb was too steep for her to stay on my lap safely)….but I explained exactly what we were going to do, and when, and she stayed right next to me and was not fazed by it at all. After that, I have never looked back….Sarah has been golden and consequently, she has remained safe. I’ve never taken it for granted though and have only recently started to reduce the amount of ‘running commentary’ when crossing roads. It’s hard not to be able to hold your child’s hand and to physically ‘feel’ that they are safe due to the fact that you need both of your hands to push yourself.



With regards to lifting Sarah in and out of the car seats, just as I was starting to struggle with lifting her weight, she was becoming more mobile and started to climb. She was soon climbing in and out of her car seat independently and only needing me to secure the straps…perfect timing!


We did not have much ‘specialist’ equipment at all – James adapted the front of a regular cot and otherwise we used regular baby equipment such as baby carriers,  pushchairs and highchairs; we just had to give more consideration as to which I could use more easily……


What advice would you give to other paralysed women who are considering having children?

Firstly, I would say that if you do have a child, it’ll be the best thing you ever do! It is not easy to begin with but then I have not heard a single able-bodied woman say that having a baby and being a new mum is easy! There are just different and additional aspects of pregnancy and motherhood to bear in mind when planning for a family when you have a disability.

Secondly, and more importantly, I would say that whatever your abilities or limitations are, the best things that you can do for your child are to cherish them, respect them and to love them unconditionally. Even if you are unable to physically look after them independently, there is so much more to bringing up a child than the physical side of things; it’s the bond that you have with them that is most important.

Communication is of paramount importance too – both with your partner and your child. Since Sarah was tiny I just talked to her….telling her what we were doing, where we were going, what she was eating……infants may not understand what you’re saying in the early days but I believe that Sarah knew that I was communicating with her in some way.


Sarah is 7 years old now and she continues to amaze me every single day. My emotions for her are inexplicable and I still get caught off-guard and cry tears of joy when I see her perform at school or witness her do or say something when she is not aware that I can see or hear her.

With the right support network, you can have a great family life if that is what you desire!