Many Said I Was Selfish For Having a Baby. This is Why They’re Wrong

rachelle and her daughterWe are excited to have Rachelle Chapman share thoughts about being a mom ahead of Mother’s Day. Rachelle is an Easterseals Ambassador, one of six diverse women helping us stay connected to the disability community and advancing our mission together to provide services and advocacy for people with disabilities and their families. You can follow Rachelle on Instagram to learn more about her and her family. 


By Rachelle Chapman

I didn’t always want kids, but when I fell in love with my husband, something changed. I wanted to make a little human one day with him and have a family. When I was playfully pushed into a pool during my bachelorette party and became paralyzed, the first thing I asked laying on the side of that pool to the EMTs is if I could still have kids.  I remember one answering and saying yes. It was a small comfort even in the midst of a traumatic moment. 

I lost the use of my fingers, triceps, and everything from the chest down. I wondered what I’d be able to do on my own with a little one. We found a surrogate because of the meds I was on and, in 2015, we had a beautiful baby girl named Kaylee Rae. 

I practiced putting on diapers by using my wrist to move the diaper around and my teeth to pull the closures off and put them on. I practiced holding her bottleand I’d say feeding was by far the easiest task. I was responsible for feeding and holding her in the middle of the night. I couldn’t get up and grab her, but my husband or mom would get her, make a bottle, and bring her to me. That way, everyone could sleep while I stayed awake putting her back to sleep.  

I understand her wants, needs, worries, and fears. My husband is the best dad in the world, but it’s a little stressful for him when she loses it. I am able to step in and let him take a breather. Every night, I read to her and tell stories. We sing our favorite Beatles songs (and a few others) and I rub her back to sleep.  

Are there limitations? Absolutely. But my husband and I had a system in place to delegate different tasks, like opening bottles and changing diapers. As she got older, things got easier. She could reach out to me in her crib to get her out and started to climb onto my lap from the floor. I could finally dress her because she could step into her pants and find the arm holes. She even learned to walk holding onto the back of my wheelchair. 

Also, this pandemic has definitely been a struggle for our family because I am high risk. The beginning was super hard because my daughter, who is an only child, wanted so badly to have someone to play with. All of the playgrounds were closed, and we had to start brainstorming on how to make the quarantine as easy and as fun as possible. We redid our entire backyard to add a swing set, trampoline, and fire pit! If I were to put a positive spin on things, I would say that I really treasured the extra time I had with my family. Kaylee was about to start kindergarten and I dreaded not being able to be with her every day. The quarantine gave us that time to be together and to make some beautiful memories.  

While I’m sad I can’t do certain things for her like teach her how to swim, do her hair or open her new toys with pesky packaging, there is far more I can do for her and she isn’t missing out on anything.  

It upsets me when people say I am selfish for having a child. They do not know what I am and what I’m not capable of. This was not just my decision, but a decision made by my entire family and my entire support system. What if my husband Chris was a single parent? Would it be impossible for him to care for that child by himself or would he be selfish for it? So how does adding me make it a selfish situation?   

love my daughter more than life itself, and I can’t explain to you the bond we have. She is one lucky girland I know she knows it. At age six, she is smart, beautiful, super active and loves going to school. I’m proud to be a mother, and extra proud to have her as a daughter.  

 


 

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