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CAN YOUR DISABILITY BE AN INFLUENCE IN YOUR DECISION TO START A FAMILY?


My husband might tell you differently, but he’s much better at maintaining friendships than I am. I think part of it has to do with the fact that there are barely any emotions involved in his friendships, and he and his friends have common interests. If I have friends that share the same interests as I do, the one shared interest is writing. My husband’s common interest with his friends is cars. He met most of his friends either in college where he was enrolled in the Automotive Business School, or at any car related events, or even through Facebook groups that are all car related.

I could never mesh well with my husband’s car buddies. I always found them awkward and weird. Most of them wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation unless it had anything to do with cars even if their lives depended on it. Nevertheless, I managed to, magically might I add, forge my own friendships with a few of his car buddies over the years. I even managed to become friends with one of my husband’s car buddies, which is surprising for two reasons – 1. most of my husband’s car buddies (at least the ones I know of) don’t have girlfriends or wives because of their weirdness and awkwardness and 2. if they do have girlfriends or wives, they usually stay home when their husbands go out to any of their ‘car meets’ or hang outs.

I really have no idea why I spent a whole two paragraphs telling you all of this as it’s not even relevant to what this blog post is about in the first place. I guess this was a little back story to what the blog post is actually about, which relates to my newfound friendship with my husband’s friend’s girlfriend. We became closer after we used each other as distraction and had our ‘girl talks’ while our significant others mingled and conversed about their car obsessions.

She and I have the perfect combination our silly girl talks such as making fun of our significant others’ obsession with cars, as well as serious girl talks such as our respective relationships with our in-laws, our health, and family planning. Just like my former classmate and friend from my previous blog post, she and her longtime boyfriend decided for themselves that it’d be best for them not to have children. But their reasons were much different than my former friend and her husband. My former friend/classmate and her husband decided to live a child-free life because they didn’t feel they’d ever be fit to be good parents to another person for economical reasons, financial reasons, lifestyle reasons, and even emotional reasons. My husband’s friend and his girlfriend had their own individual, some rather conflicting reasons, but reasons nonetheless.

My husband’s friend had always been open about the fact that he never wanted to have children. He didn’t have any reasons for the choice he made for himself. He just didn’t ever want to have children. His girlfriend, whom he’d been in a relationship with for over 5 years, thought she could change his mind, but to avail. Over time, though, she realized that it was probably best for them not to bring another life into the world due to their disabilities, as well as her health issues.

I won’t get into what their disabilities and illnesses are as it’s not for me to speak of in the first place, but they’re serious enough for her decide that having children isn’t for her even though it was something she really wanted. Some would call her change of heart as settling. I, on the other hand, call that prioritizing her life, and that’s the smartest and most selfish thing anyone can do for themselves.When I say it’s selfish, I mean it in the most positive way possible.

This might seem like I’m being a hypocrite considering the fact that I had a child despite me having cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I didn’t allow my physical disability and neurological disorder influence my decision to have a child. I didn’t care what it took me to have a child as long as I had a child. I was willing to risk my health that I worked so hard for to have that child. Now that I think of it, though, it was completely wrong of me. But it is what it is. Having a child isn’t the most important thing in the world; your health is. Becoming a mother was always something I really wanted for myself. I knew I wanted to be a mother before I knew I wanted to get married. But after my failed IVF round, I was willing to give up my plans to have children and live a child-free life as the process of getting pregnant affected my health. Specifically, it affected my neurological disorder. I said to my husband that I wanted to give up on our plans of having children because my health was more important. He was disappointed, of course, but very supportive. It just so happened that I was already pregnant at the time with my son.

Pregnancy isn’t the only factor that needs to be considered when making the decision to have children. Pregnancy is, in fact, just the beginning stage in having a child. It’s the first step in becoming a parent. Once the 9 months of pregnancy are up, the baby comes along, and that’s when you actually become a parent. Before you even begin to think of starting a family, you need to think of three main things – 1. do you have the mental capacity to have a child and be a good parent? 2. do you have the emotional capacity to have a child and be a good parent? and 3. do you have the physical capacity to have a child and be a good parent? I’m not even mentioning the financial part of it all because personally, one could never feel like they have the financial stability to have a child and provide for the child.

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the three questions, then maybe you shouldn’t be the ones bring a new lie into the world. One’s disability is a big factor in these three main questions, and all these three questions need to be considered if you have a disability, any disability, and are even remotely and hypothetically thinking of starting a family of your own. Any disability will have an effect on one’s emotional, capacity, mental capacity, and physical capacity. Life without children is already stressful. Life is all about stress after all. Life with a disability or two or even three adds to the stress and the unknowns. Having the responsibility of raising children only adds even more to the stress. That level of stress could lead to you not being fit enough to be a parent, and it will not only hurt you, but the child as well; especially your child. And not only that, but a disability can be life-threatening for a woman with a disability such as a heart disease. As a woman, would you risk your own life to have a baby? Would you want your child to be motherless? I know I wouldn’t.

And so, the question remains. Can a disability be a deciding factor on whether or not you start a family of your own? ABSOLUTELY, YES! To be honest, I wish more and more individuals were as self-aware as my husband’s friend and his girlfriend. They know their wants and their needs, and they know that their life is much healthier without bringing another life into the world. And it doesn’t make them any less happy to be with one another. The world would be a much better place if more individuals and couples had their thought process.


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