Welcome baby boy

Holy crap, I’m a mom!  That was my initial thought when we were on our way to the hospital.  Well, it was actually “Hubs, what did we do?!”  He told me it was a little late for that.  From what I’ve heard from my friends who are parents, most new parents think the same thing.  I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone there.  But still.

Surromom called us to say she was in labor around 8:30 on Tuesday night.  The hubs and I drove the nearly 2 hour drive to the hospital to meet her.  The length of the drive gave me plenty of time to freak out.  We got to the hospital after receiving a few “hurry, they’re going to break my water soon” texts and calls.  My mom was there, so I felt better.  But I didn’t want to miss his birth.  (Well, to be fair, I thought that wouldn’t have been the exact worst thing in my mind due to my hatred and fear hospitals and all things medical after all my time spent in them.  Special shout out and thanks to my medical history.)  The hubs drove like the wind, as best we could on a night where it seemed like every cop was on the freeway, thwarting our attempts!

We go to the hospital just in time!  Well… just in time to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And not sleep.  And wait.  We got to the hospital at 10:30pm.  They broke her water the next morning at 10:00am.  The baby was born at 12:54pm.  So, in retrospect, we could have stayed home and gotten one more good night’s sleep, had a hearty breakfast, pet the dogs a little longer for their last one-on-one time and taken a shower.  All of those things sounded wonderful at 4am when we were still awake!

Sleepiness in the hospital hallway at 2:35am

Sleepiness in the hospital hallway at 2:35am

My parents stayed at the hospital all night with us (something they’re used to do, thanks again to my wonderful medical past), though my dad did abandon ship and go to sleep in his car.  But my mom, the dependable trooper, stayed with us.

Funny side story: around 3:30am we tried to go down to the lobby where they had loveseat couches to sleep.  We all chose a couch and laid down.  The security guard immediately came over and told my mom and the hubs they couldn’t put their feet up, but that I was ok.  Hey wheelchair, you finally paid off!  I get to lounge while the others have to be upright!  Score!  Screw you equality, I’m using this to my advantage.  Well, about 10 minutes later, another guard came over and said to put my feet down.  “But, the other guys said it was OK!”  I said, in more of a sleepy stammer than my normal Italian bluster.  “Put them down.” He repeated.  I was too tired to argue.  But security guard 1 then shouted across the room that it was OK.  Not wanting to cause a scene in a hospital lobby,  and sensing that my mom was getting riled up to protect my right to lounge, I I just said it was OK.  It was loud and cold anyway, and not like I was sleeping.  We gave up and went back up the room.

Another side story: Around 12:20, our surromom’s nurse went on lunch break and there was a replacement nurse tending to her.  She noticed a weird noise from the monitors which we had all been annoyed by but at this point, had become background noise.  The nurse called IT to fix the problem.  At the same time, the anesthesiologist had come to check on her epidural.  The IT guy disconnected the monitor to replace the unit, when Surromom announced that she felt pressure and that the baby was coming.  You’ve never seen an IT guy move so quickly installing equipment before, as I’m sure witnessing the miracle of life was way outside of his paygrade!  The anesthesiologist told Surromom that he didn’t want to give her more medication if she was about to deliver, which he should know better than to tell a woman who has been in labor for over 14 hours.  Suffice it to say, she got her meds and he escaped with his life.  I was texting my mom to hurry, as she had been down in the cafeteria to get some rest and give us some space.  At about 12:50, the nurse was back, the doctor was there.  The nurse made room for me and my wheelchair (which felt huge and awkward and space consuming at that time) next to the incubator.  It was go time.  And I started crying.  Holy crap, I’m about to become a mom!

And then he was here.  All 8 pounds 2 ounces of him.  And they placed his tiny, goopy body on me.  And there were no more tears.  It was just this overwhelming sense of “I’ve got this, little man.”  Well, I had that feeling until the first time he tried to move his head and I shrieked to the nurse “What do I do?!”  And she showed me how to hold him and that he wasn’t all that fragile (something I’ve heard but didn’t quite believe).  Then, the calm came back over me.  The wheelchair disappeared.  My fear disappeared.  And I realized, that I do have this.  Little Mister and I will figure this out together.  He’s never been a baby before and I’ve never been a mom.  So we will figure this out together!  Plus, it helps that the hubs is such a naturally amazing dad.  So, what I can’t do, or what is hard, he is there to help with.  (I’m mostly saying this now because last night I was exhausting and he took 2 of the 3 night feedings and got up with him this morning so I could get more sleep.  Such a good dad and a great hubs!)

So in sum, holy crap, I’m a mom!  I will get through this.  And I look forward to sharing tips and stories of what it’s like to be a mom in a wheelchair!

mom in a wheelchair

Get Over It!

I recently read this article “15 things wheelchair users hate hearing.”  I found the article to be so much more annoying, more than I found any of the 15 things to be.  People in wheelchairs this goes out to you: get over it.  We aren’t a common occurrence.  There are far too many of us, but we aren’t common.  Most people aren’t around paraplegics, quadriplegics or any other type of wheelchair user.  They are curious.  They are trying to be nice and relate.  Why can’t you just acknowledge that people who ask questions or start conversations are trying to be polite.  They’re trying to make you feel comfortable or trying to understand better. Start a dialogue.  Don’t shoot them down.  Kylie didn’t hurt you by posing in a wheelchair.  The nice woman at the grocery store didn’t try to piss on your parade by telling you she’d pray for you.  Get over yourselves and pass on knowledge instead of more judgement!

Here is my 15 responses to those 15 things the author claimed bug all wheelchair users:

 

1)      “I’ll pray for you”

 

Why would this bother someone?  I pray daily that I will walk someday.  I pray for a cure for paralysis.  I talk about cures for paralysis.  Why would it be offensive for someone else to pray too?

 

 

2)      “What happened to you?”

 

If someone is genuinely curious why would that be bad?  If it’s too personal, then say that.  I like sharing my story so I would never mind.  This especially cracks me up when reporters and bloggers complain about this because you’re publically putting yourself out there!  Get over it!

 

 

3)      “Congratulations”

 

Thank you!  Life in a wheelchair is hard.  And I’m out there conquering life.  A little acknowledgement and support is awesome!
 

4)      “How fast does that thing go?”

 

Whenever I can, I am racing around in my wheelchair.  If it’s level and there aren’t too many people, I’m flying.  I think it’s funny when people ask this or when they challenge me to a race.  Heck, I challenge other people to a race!
 

5)      “Stay positive”

 

Again, life in a wheelchair is hard.  And overwhelming at times.  It does take work to stay positive every now and then.  Why would I not want encouragement?  That’s not offensive!

 

6)      “I’m so glad I don’t have to be in a wheelchair.” I’ve never heard anyone over the age of 11 say this.  But, if they do, then yes, I’m glad you don’t have to be also!  It sucks.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.
 

7)      “Is your significant other in a wheelchair too?”

People always ask me if my hubs is a lawyer too.  They ask him if his wife is a teacher.  It isn’t uncommon to be with someone who has something major in common with you.  That’s not a weird question.
 

8)      “You are too good looking for a wheelchair user”

Thank you, I think so too.  And I take enough selfies to show that I agree with you.  But I’m in this darn thing (for now) and I will rock it to the best of my abilities and make it look good. 
 

9)      “It’s good to see you are so productive”

 

SO many people in wheelchairs aren’t productive, so I get why this is a stereotype.  I’m out there killing life and it’s good for people to take notice of that to break stereotypes. 
 

10)  “Do you know Brian?”

 

No.  Is he cool?  No need to be annoyed by that question.  The way support groups and online forums work, maybe I do know him. 
 

11)  “Can you be cured?”

 

If it’s too personal, then tell them. But some people aren’t permanently in wheelchairs. And some people do have things that are fixable. Wanting to know if it’s a permanent thing shows concern and compassion, so why would you not like that question? 

 

 

12)  “I had to use a wheelchair once”

 

If a person is trying to find common ground, then who cares.  I’m sorry that they had to use a wheelchair at all.  And they’re better now, so tell me what you went through or what you did because maybe that will make me feel better.
 

13)  “You are inspirational”

 

Thank you.  I am inspirational.  I lost the ability to walk at 32 years old, 4 months after getting married.  And I didn’t fall into a pit of despair.  If I can help just one person get through the same thing, then I will be happy! 

 

 

14)  “I don’t know how you do it?”

 

People think they can’t get through something life shattering.  They are genuinely impressed.  A lot of people don’t make it through and give up.  I usually respond with “what other choice do I have?”
 

15)  “My grandma uses a wheelchair”

 

When I was 10 and used a walker, I used to think everyone would tease me because only grandmas use walkers.  Then I grew up.  If you have a family member in a wheelchair, even an elderly one, then you probably know some of the issues I face and we can chat about it.  They’re not calling me an old lady.  They’re relating.  Not offensive!

If anyone has questions about my wheelchair, why I’m in it, or wants to race, I welcome you!

Powerball

The hubs and I don’t normally play the lottery.  We don’t really gamble at all.  But, we got swept up in the hype that goes along with the huge 800 million dollar Powerball going on right now.  Do I really think we’d win?  No.  But is it fun thinking about “what if?”  Hell yeah!  It’s worth the $20 we put in to think and talk about what we’d do with the money.  (Plus, you don’t win if you don’t play, even with the high improbability of winning.  Someone has to win, why can’t it possibly be me?)

What would I do with the money?

Savings.  First I’d put some in savings.  For both ourselves and in a separate account for the baby, so no matter what, he is always taken care of.  Some kind of long-term mutual fund or something.  With the stock market low, this would be a great time to buy in!

House.  We’d build our dream home in Wyoming.  We have this amazing 2 acres sitting there waiting for us in a perfect little town.  We’d build a great wheelchair friendly house on that lot.  We already plan on that for “someday”, but we’d get going on that a lot sooner!

Parents.  We’d do something great for our parents.  I’m thinking world cruise for his folks.  Harley for my dad.  My mom always says no presents because her family is all she’d ever want, so I’ll test that theory.  Just kidding, mom.  You will have something amazing.  It’s just going to take more thought.  What do you give to the woman who birthed you and took care of you?  Especially when you happen to be a major pain the ass who took those angsty teenage years and ran with them?  Or when you happen to find yourself in the hospital every couple of years for weeks on end and she gives up the comfort of her own home and practically moves into a hugely uncomfortable chair next to you just so she can be there for every little thing you need?  Or when you need months of home care after you’ve been discharged?  I’m going to have to think on that one a little more.

Wheelchair.  I love my wheelchair, but I’d trick it out.  Amazing wheels (mine are stock).  Get a custom seat with pressure mapping so I’m never uncomfortable again.  Maybe a hot guy to push me around all the time.  He’s also double as a personal trainer to help get me in shape.  (I’m sorry hubs, but it’s proven that the hot ones get better results.  That’s scientific.  You question that?  Fine.  We’ll hire a hot female chauffeur/tutor for the baby.  Happy?)  And I’d also get an off-roading wheelchair.  And a beach wheelchair.  And a freewheel.  And all the other cool gadgets to be able to do all things.

Peer support.  The hubs would quit his job and I probably would too, though I would reserve the right to come back to work on any really interesting cases for people who needed me.  And we would travel around to places where need me so I could help other people in wheelchairs.  I’d love to talk to newly wheelchair-bound people and give them advice and help.  People need to have someone they can talk to who relates to what they’re going through.  Doctors telling you it’s going to be OK is not the same thing as seeing someone living the life actually being OK.  It’s going to suck at times, but overall it’s going to be OK.

Broadway play production.  Now, I don’t know what all goes into one of those, or how much they cost.  But the hubs is a theatre director who is not just good, but is really quite amazing!  The productions he gets out of his high school kids are worthy of Broadway, so just think of what he could do with an actual Broadway production!  I’d like to see that, so we’ll make it happen.

Donating to the church.  That’s actually my number 2.  So, please mentally rearrange to go Savings, then donating to church, then house.  And I’m not just saying that because I think it will buy me some good karma ahead of the drawing.  I’m saying it because the government is going to take a huge chunk in the name of good that will be wasted.  So, I’d like to give a huge chunk because I want to and I know it actually will go to a good place.  I’d donate to our local church here, the one in Wyoming we go to, and to my friend, Father John.  He was the one who got me through the whole paralysis hospital thing.  I’d give his program a chunk and send him and some of his friends on a vacation too.  He deserves it!

And that is how I would spend my money.  I’d obviously go buck wild at Target (like I don’t already?!) and go on some major shopping trips.  And I’d want to take a vacation to Germany to meet some of the hubs’ relatives and eat more German food.  And I’d go to England to hang with my best friend and her family for a while.  My dream is to go to the Basqueland to see where my grandpa was from, but I don’t think that area is especially handicapped/wheelchair friendly.  Though, I suppose I could just hire someone to carry me through the streets.  That’d actually be pretty cool!  Add that to the list!

See…this fun was totally worth the twenty bucks!

Community Life

When I first became paralyzed, I wasn’t interested in getting to know anyone else in a wheelchair.  The hospital staff brought around a guy in a wheelchair to give me advice and whatnot.  But, I figured I was different.  I was getting better.  And for the next year after, I immersed myself in physical therapy.  Everything was geared toward my getting better.  But, then I slowly realized that I was alone.  I had this blog to vent or cheer, but no one to compare notes with.  No one to talk to about daily occurrences or freak things.  My family and close friends would try to help, but it just wasn’t the same.

Then I found a group on Facebook for people with spinal cord injuries.  This group was great because now I had a place where people were experiencing exactly what I was going through.  They offered their own advice, asked their own questions, posed their own stories.  And if you had a question, they were quick with advice.  Or if you wanted to brag a bit about something awesome, most were just as quick with words of praise and encouragement.  It’s a really neat group of which I’m a part.

Through that group, I found a group geared specifically toward moms in wheelchairs with spinal cord injuries.  You don’t actually have to be a mom: you can just want to have kids one day and want to join now to learn about the possibilities of that.  The fear of not being able to have and/or raise kids is a big deal for young women with spinal cord injuries.  Yes, it’s going to be hard (I don’t know yet, but should be learning any day now), but it’s definitely doable.  This group of moms in wheelchairs is such a great group to be in!  It’s even better than the general group, because it’s specifically women with similar interests: having a family.  We all offer support, encouragement, advice.  It’s fun to have this group of women who I have never met in real life to be able to talk with for the simple fact that they can relate.  No injury is exactly the same, but we are all mostly going through the same things.  And knowing that I have a community, that I am not some isolated island, is a HUGE part of the healing and recovery process.  I am so glad I found these groups and highly recommend it to any person out there who feels alone in their lives.