Caring for my two sons as a disabled mum – #100days100stories

Emma has two children and works for a publishing company. She also has cerebral palsy, and she shared her experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and bringing up her children with us in September 2014. We’re republishing it here as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

I work full-time for a publishing company in London and am mum to two perfect little boys – Oscar, aged five, and Henry, one.

Emma and her sons smiling

I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of six months. It affects only my left side but I can walk quite easily unaided (better if I wear my splint).

It affects my gait, balance and the fine motor skills in my hand. I tell people it means I can only carry one cuppa at a time!

Having children

It didn’t even occur to me that I would have any difficulty having children. I had been brought up to believe – quite rightly – that I could achieve anything, so it was just the logical next step after I married my wonderful husband, Matthew.

My first pregnancy was fine until six months, when I developed symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD). Suddenly walking was incredibly painful. Whether my condition played a part in developing SPD I’ll never know, but it didn’t make it any easier to cope with.

Emma's husband and son in the parkMy CP means I have a curved spine and because of this an epidural was ruled out. On top of this, Oscar was in the breech position so I had to have a caesarean section, but I recovered quickly and with no side effects.

During my second pregnancy, my CP affected me quite badly. I noticed that my balance was affected from quite early on, and I tripped a lot. I had four falls in my last eight weeks, and it was terrifying. But again, I had another healthy boy by c-section.

Looking after my boys

Caring for two active little boys is hard work for any mum. I don’t think about my CP every day – I just get on with things – but it does make life a little tougher.

Breast and bottle feeding was always my biggest challenge. When we were at home I could always find some way to get comfortable, but out and about I would need help.Emma with her sons

With Henry I breastfed exclusively until four months, but he then got too heavy and I found I began to favour one side over the other due to my physical limitations.

As they got bigger, I found it hard to carry them for long periods of time. I found this very hard emotionally, but I gradually realised that we could be close in other ways. I also think it helped them to be a little more independent.

“Mum’s cranky leg”

As my eldest, Oscar, got older, he started to notice and understand Mummy’s condition. He refers to it as my ‘cranky’ hand or leg!

He knows there are some things I find hard or will take longer to do, but he just accepts it as the norm, which is wonderful. There are few disabled children in his school and the teachers often comment on how considerate he is.

The age gap between my children, although not intentional, is a godsend – my elder son is such a help. I make sure I don’t ask too much of him, but he is more than happy to fetch and carry for me, and gets a real satisfaction from helping.

I’ve had cerebral palsy since birth so of course I have no other frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure any parent feels a little out of their depth sometimes. All I can say is that I feel very blessed to be mum to two healthy and happy children.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.