A guest blog by Kelly Perks-Bevington
I’m Kelly and am a disability awareness trainer for Enhance The UK, and I’ve got two little boys, Mason who is two and a half, and Hunter who is just seven weeks old. When I was invited to write this article about parenthood, I thought about it and there is no better piece that I could write than talking about my experience of parenthood this time using PA’s.
Wait and See
When I was having Mason, I really had no idea what to expect, and largely neither did the doctors. They said it was a “wait and see” situation, which of course is what every expectant mother wants to hear! It really was that! After thinking about a natural birth or a c-section and flip flopping between the two Mason decided himself that he wanted to be born at 38 weeks, and after getting to 10cm dilated and pushing, he decided again that he didn’t want to come out that way which meant that I was to have an emergency c-section under general anaesthetic.
The whole experience with Hunter from start to finish was completely different, I had control. I decided on a c-section at 37 weeks (to avoid him beating me to it!) and I decided also to try a spinal so that I could be awake for his birth. As I have scoliosis of the spine without rods or surgery it was pretty much a gamble as to whether the spinal would take, how far up it would go or whether it would be too low down. But I was determined to try it. I wanted to see my baby born, and I wanted it on my own terms. It worked after three pretty painful attempts.
It was really eye opening to actually figure out, along with the consultant where my spine actually was, and which nerves reacted to being prodded with a pretty giant needle!
The spinal was INSANE, it felt like warm pins and needles running through my lower body and the consultant said that despite my spine it was some of his best work – “the perfect spinal”! I felt in control, and when I heard my baby’s first cry I was in bits! Such a special moment.
Living with PA’s and having a baby
From the start of the journey with Hunter I had complete control and that has not changed at all now. I am in full control, thanks to my PA’s. I can get the assistance I need, and I am able to make ALL of my own parenting choices.
Throughout Mason’s early years I was reliant quite a lot on family and they were fab. However, family often make decisions on your behalf, not maliciously or to take over, but just because it is often easier for them to jump in for a feed, or to comfort the baby there and then rather than help with positioning etc.!
Don’t get wrong, I am so grateful for all of my family support with both kids, I couldn’t be without it! But a PA is literally there to assist you, not to do the job for you. Of course, my PA’s love baby cuddles too but it is all on my terms.
Because of my amazing team I’m able to take the time out I need to do everything I need to do. Whether it’s going for a quick wee (something so many moms don’t get to do, especially disabled ones!) or grabbing that much needed bath. It is amazing to be able to work to a schedule with support, rather than just frantically trying to do everything that needs doing.
The Importance of Self Care
With Mason, I ended up in hospital due to my lack of time for basic self-care, and it was serious. I ended up with sepsis and was hospitalized for a week. This time, I have someone who is there for me, making sure I drink enough, making sure I go to the toilet and making sure I am eating properly. I can’t explain how important that is. It would be amazing if all new moms had PA’s, disability or not because honestly the help is invaluable!
Finding a care agency that can work with you and provide tailored support is also so important! My care company made sure I was part of the process from start to finish, recruiting my own PA’s and then they allow me to work on my own rotas, ensuring that I have the perfect PA for each task at hand!
It’s important to me that I have the control element just like anyone else. The support I have had has literally changed and enhanced my life!
All images copyright Kelly Perks-Bevington.
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