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Sexuality, Pregnancy, and Parenting

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Sexuality, Pregnancy, and Parenting

Meet Kelly McKee

In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck - and, of course, courage.
-- Bill Cosby

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Life can change in the blink of an eye. In the twilight of a warm September evening, life certainly changed for me in the blink of an eye.  In a freak accident, I fell off a tombstone in a cemetery and broke the sixth vertebrae in my neck.  I have been paralyzed from the chest down ever since. At the time the accident happened, my son was about to turn five-years-old. After the initial shock of realizing the severity of my injury, my first thoughts went to my son.  How would I parent with such a severe physical impairment?  Also, I realized that I would have liked to have had more children. Could I have more children with such physical challenges to overcome?  Moving through the journey of my recovery, I came to understand that parenting with a disability was not much different than parenting without one. Yes, I could care for an active five-year-old. And, I went on to carry, give birth, and raise twin girls.  Today, my son is 19-years-old and my twin girls are 13.  Parenting takes courage no matter what the circumstance. 

 "I came to understand that parenting with a disability was not much different than parenting without one."

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There are a few tips that I can give that might help individuals with a disability parent to the best of their ability.  First, I would say read up. The links at the conclusion of this article provide information and insight as to adaptions and perspectives that might make the technical as well as the emotional aspects of parenting with a disability easier.  Also, look for resources specific to your location.  For instance, when my girls were young, I joined the local Mothers of Multiples organization.  Very helpful organization that included women who were more than happy to talk, help, or get me out of the house to be involved in community activities.  Flexibility is a key ability. What works for one family may not work for another. When my girls were small, we lowered their crib so that I could easily access them for changing, feeding, and playing. Also, I chose to use a power wheelchair rather than a manual chair. The power wheelchair allowed me to keep up with my active, growing five-year-old.  Do not be afraid to ask for help. However, remember that it is okay for you to be in charge. You are the parent. When sharing parenting responsibilities with family members, friends, and caregivers be kind and gracious but also be firm and confident in your ability to know what is best for you and your children.  Journeying through a pregnancy while negotiating the challenges of a physical disability is a daunting undertaking in which you are often the expert, as medical professionals may not have much experience in helping individuals with a disability through pregnancy and in preparing to parent. 

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As of late, I have had the unfortunate experience of having to go through a divorce.  Experiencing divorce and issues of custody and support from the perspective of an individual with a disability has only strengthened my belief that, although having more challenges to overcome, a parent with an outward disability is no different than parent with no outward disability. Maintaining a strong sense of self is extremely important. Children take cues from their parents. Similarly, the family court system responds well to individuals who are confident and have a plan.  At the conclusion of this article, I have included links with information regarding issues of custody and support for parents with disabilities. 

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