Having a baby with cerebral palsy
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Having a baby with cerebral palsy
The most awkward thing said to me because of my Cerebral Palsy was about me having having a baby of my own.
What’s the most awkward thing someone has said to me because of my Cerebral Palsy? When able-bodied people realise I have a son, they ask, “How did you have it?”
“Like everybody else," is the first thing that comes to mind is.
But when I looked at their faces, I saw them assume I was asexual or raped because I am disabled. I then explained I met a disabled boy in my special education school when I was twelve. We messed around until I was fifteen, then broke up. After dating a couple of able-bodied men, I returned to him, and we moved in together for a year and a half.
I got concerned when my period didn’t come, but I kept ignoring it. Finally, I asked a girlfriend to take me to Planned Parenthood. She rolled me in my wheelchair to take a pregnancy test. The clerk had an awkward look on her face. She assumed the test was for my friend, a pretty white girl, and not for me, a black woman with a disability. She said, “Okay,” and took us to the back.
I had to take a blood test and piss in a cup. I said, “Oh no! You have to hold my arms down. I move around a lot.”
Two nurses grabbed my arms and got scared. I said to them:
“Don’t be scared. I’m not as delicate as you think. I’m stronger than you, and you have to hold tight. Just stick the needle in my arm. You won’t hurt me.”
The look on their faces was something. What?
Then I had to piss in a cup. I said, “I need help to do this. Can the nurse help me?”
“Can your friend do it?," the nurse asked.
I said, “Isn’t that your job?”
“Not really, but I’ll try.” ”
"Forget it. I’ll ask my friend to help.”
We got it done and gave the cup to the nurse.
Forty-five minutes later, they came back with the test results. I was about two-and-a-half months pregnant. I was shocked but not surprised. I knew something was going on. The gynaecologist looked at me and asked, “When do you want to get an abortion?”
“Hell no! I’m not getting an abortion,” I looked at him in shock.
We rolled out of there. I was upset and happy at the same time.
When I got home, I told my partner. He pissed me off by saying nothing. Then I told my attendant. She was happy and said she liked kids because she had four of her own.
And then I told my mother. God, that was a mess! We argued because she said, “I ain’t taking care of no baby.”
I said, “I didn’t ask you to.”
We stopped talking for a while.
I proceeded to my first doctor’s appointment. He was nervous. He had to examine me. I brought my attendant. She put me up on the table. I was moving all over because I have spastic Cerebral Palsy. You should have seen the look on my doctor’s face. I said, “It might take two of you to hold me.”
He said, “Okay, I’ll get a nurse,” and then asked, “Can your attendant help?”
So I lied down. The nurse held one leg, and the attendant held the other, so the doctor proceeded with the examination. Because of my spasticity, my muscles tightened. It took a couple of attempts for the doctor to do what he had to do to get his hand in there. He also did an ultrasound.
The examination was a success. He explained that this was going to be a high-risk pregnancy, and he had to examine me every two weeks. After a month and a half, he realised I didn’t have to come in every two weeks.
I had one concern. I had to roll over onto my stomach to get on my knees so I could crawl around the house when not in my wheelchair. Was that going to crush my baby? The doctor said the amniotic fluid would protect my baby. I continued to crawl around the house. I had to be careful not to stumble and hit myself. Everything was going all right.
Read more: The taboo of passing as able-bodied
After about four months, I went in to find out the baby’s sex. I had to drink eight glasses of water without going to the bathroom. Oh God, how the hell am I going to do that? The baby was kicking and getting my muscles tight. I was nervous because I didn’t want a girl like me. The doctor got the test results and came in and told me that the baby was a boy. I was damn happy. Immediately, I told the doctor to tie my tubes. He informed me that he couldn’t because I was too young. I told him, “We’ll have to talk about that. I got what I wanted—a baby boy.”
Later, they called my mother to authorize having my tubes tied. She told them, “What did she say? She wants her tubes tied. Why do I have to authorize? She’s a grown-ass woman.”
What is it like having a baby with cerebral palsy at a hospital?
The rest of the pregnancy was fine with no problems until I went into labor two days early. Sitting on my bed, my water broke. I got out and crawled to the living room, yelling at his father, “Get the hell up. I need some help.” He didn’t get up.
I got the telephone and hit him upside the head and crawled my ass back in my room, and called my attendant. She said, “I’m coming right now. I’m on my way.”
When she arrived, she was all nervous and got me a wheelchair. My boyfriend took the back seat of the car, and we took off.
When we got to the hospital, my attendant and a nurse took me to a room. My boyfriend dragged his ass behind us. The doctor examined me in bed. I was about three inches dilated. He said, “It’s going to be a while.”
It took eight hours. They asked if I wanted any pain medicines or epidural.
“I don’t want no medicine or epidural.” I did it all naturally. Nothing at all.
The doctor had to induce labor because my son wouldn’t come out and my muscles were too tight. They rolled me into the room. My attendant held one leg, the nurse held the other, and I had to push and scream. Where was the father? In the corner scared as hell. I’m glad I had my attendant. She said, “Come on, Monique. We got to do this. Push. Push. We got it. I see it coming. I see his head. Push.”
Out came a five-pound, nine-ounce, Chinese-looking baby. He was cute. The doctor said I had to keep pushing to push the placenta out. I said, “I can’t push anymore.”
My attendant said, “You got to.”
So I pushed and pushed and she pushed on my stomach, and we got it all out.
They took me to the recovery room. I got on my knees and said, “I want something to eat.”
Shocked, the doctor looked at me and said, “Didn’t you just have a baby?”
After a few hours in the recovery room, my attendant went home. They took me back to my room, and I said, “Can I have my baby?”
They said, “No, because your attendant isn’t here.”
I was mad, called my momma, and said, “Momma, they won’t give me my baby.”
She called the hospital and said, “You better give that girl her baby.”
The nurse brought my son and laid him on the bed between my knees. I bent down and kissed him.
Having a baby with cerebral palsy is possible despite what some ableists think.
Monique Renee Harris
Monique Renee Harris was born an African American woman with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Her poetry, stories, and digital graphic artwork have been published in numerous magazines and journals.