Guest blog from Marie, who thought she may never have children because of her disability. After six years of waiting and exploring different options, Marie and her husband Dan became the proud parents of Mark in November. Thirty-one-year-old Marie has brittle bone disease, and in the words of her husband Dan, “could break her arm reaching for a kettle”. Marie’s brother died from the same genetic condition after falling from an unsuitable wheelchair. A wheelchair user herself and with a fused spine, having a baby was never going to be straight-forward for Marie.
When Dan and I first got together I was quite honest that I didn’t know if we could have children. Some women, even with my severity of brittle bones disease, can have a baby without a problem. But I have a severe spinal curvature and a heart condition as well, which means it would be dangerous for me to carry a baby to term.
We always said that we would adopt, but when we looked into adopting, we discovered they make it really hard if you’ve got a disability. I felt devastated. I thought that was it; we’re not going to be able to have children. But it was always at the back of my mind that we wanted a child. I even, at one point, thought about risking it and trying to carry a baby myself, but I knew it would have been too much for me.
It was a friend who suggested going to a surrogacy organisation. When we first went to talk to them I was worried; I thought they wouldn’t touch us because of the disability. But they were great! They didn’t give us any indication that it would be more difficult as a disabled person. I thought we would have to wait years and years for a surrogate to choose us, but we waited about 18 months.
Obviously there are things that have been and will be difficult. The surrogacy has been quite emotionally difficult for me. I feel guilty sometimes that someone else had to go through all the pain and sickness for us to have a baby.
I’m also anxious about what people might think. There are still people who believe disabled people shouldn’t be parents and we’ve had some really strange reactions from people. When Dan and I went to John Lewis to buy the cot, for example, they didn’t know what to do with us. They were like, “Is it for a friend?” They didn’t know what to do when we said it was for our baby. They were stood there staring at us for like 30 seconds.
There are so many things we don’t know as well, because we’re first time parents. We had a few sleepless nights, before Mark was born, worrying about things. We went on a First Aid course, so we know what to do if he’s choking or something. We’ve wanted a baby for a long time but it doesn’t quite prepare you. Your life changes so much.
Like all new mums, I’m exhausted, but having Mark in our lives is just so amazing. Dan and I are learning more about Mark and being parents everyday – it’s an adventure!
Marie is going to be blogging about being a new mum over the coming months, and has been raising awareness by talking to Sunday People