Dreaming of becoming a parent chooses you. You don’t get to choose the journey. With Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and using a power wheelchair while requiring care for my basic needs, many would think being a parent wouldn’t be a dream I’d have, let alone pursue.
I am a mother to a nearly 5 month-old spunky, cheerful, silly…and, of course genius, of a daughter. I raise her alongside my life partner of over 7 years, Christopher. He happens to be “Able-Bodied,” as is my daughter. This is not a common journey that many with a disability similar to mine choose to take, but there are an amazing group of us moms out there that I’ve come to know, and get support from and also give support.
To get to know us better you should know a bit more of how I came to this point in life of being a parent.
I’m that girl that lives as a rebel but within the law, of course…but more of a rebel in a positive way, I’m a person that makes others question a lot in life.
I was told all of these life milestones or goals of mine I’ve accomplished I’d never reach because of my disability, and that has always lit a fire in me to want it even more because I know I can.
Watch me. I will-and I will prevail.
I was told by family or friends at many points in life that certain things just weren’t “In the cards for me,” or just may not happen. I think I’ve got a record of doing all the things I wanted I was told I couldn’t. A big one was having a child. And it still remains controversial to some who believe my daughter deserves an able-bodied mother. If I can change just one individual’s perspective on being a parent with a disability who once thought it should not be, then I’m doing my work of spreading awareness.
I never questioned anything I took on in life as much as becoming a mom.
There’s this new perspective now though, and it feels hard wired in. It’s a feeling deep inside that when you become a mom, part of your spirit, soul, or simply who you are just changes without even realizing it is happening. I noticed this happen as my daughter’s birth got closer. I questioned a lot more. I questioned nearly everything to ensure I was making a decision for somebody else that was the best, not just for me any more.
I’ve lived independent of my family, received my Bachelors and Masters in Social Work, volunteered (and still do regularly) in my community, dated in my 20’s, lived out my 20’s unsure if I’d meet somebody I’d want to live a long life with, and after meeting and dating Christopher for 2 years (now going on 7+ years), we knew it was forever.
We eventually decided to start looking into how we would have our family. I saw specialists, we looked into domestic adoption and surrogacy. Surrogacy seemed so unrealistic with the cost on a middle-class income. But being older we had established credit and were able to get loans, and that (in short) is how our daughter came to be. Gia is 100% genetically from both me and Christopher, but the embryo from us was carried by a surrogate woman we found through an agency. I will talk more about our birth journey later. It’s a long journey how Giulianna (or Gia, as we also call her mostly) came to be here.
I thought given my age, mid 30’s, that I knew myself well enough to know how I’d be as a parent. In terms of my fears, limitations, what I loved most, and all of the in between. …
I was wrong.
I did think I’d automatically just transition into motherhood and push ahead-challenges and all. Like any other challenge. Not so much. I question more. And I think that’s good. It’s scary though too. It’s no longer about just me.
For more on Lauren’s journey to parenthood, look for her upcoming blogs.