by Guest Blogger Darren Brehm
Let me start off by saying that having children is not only possible if either you or your significant other has suffered a spinal cord injury, but that it is totally possible to be a wonderful, contributing parent as well. My wife, Faith, and I are now the proud parents of six-month-old twins. And we were lucky enough to get a boy and a girl in one shot. The path to parenthood wasn’t easy for us, but it was well worth it.
In 1993, while still only boyfriend and girlfriend, we were involved in a rollover automobile accident that rendered me paralyzed at the C4/5 level. Thankfully, Faith escaped with only minor injuries. However, we were devastated to have this new challenge thrust in our lives at age 20. Having children was a distant proposition, even without the spinal cord injury. With the injury we decided to put it off indefinitely…
Fast forward to 2007. Now married and in our mid-30s, we were ready and eager to start a family, so we consulted with our doctors and decided that In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was the best choice. It took us four rounds for us to have a successful pregnancy. Through the process, we learned that everything matters: proper nutrition, sleep, acupuncture (at least in our case we thought it helped), and most of all, a positive attitude. Not surprising, maintaining a positive attitude was the hardest component, especially after we experienced round after round of failure.
It was often frustrating for me during Faith’s pregnancy, because I couldn’t help her out like I could if I was able-bodied. She had a particularly difficult first trimester, as she was ill at random times of the day. It was during this time that we really came to count on the support of our friends and family. The additional complication that we encountered during pregnancy was that Faith had always been my primary caregiver, and while she could still do certain things with me, there were many activities that were now totally off-limits (lifting, stretching, transfers). We hired help which worked out perfectly, although we had to adjust to someone new in our routine.
The hospital was very cooperative with making accommodations so I could experience the birth of my children. Because our daughter was positioned horizontally (more or less blocking the exit), Faith had no choice but to deliver via c-section. But because we were able to schedule the procedure in advance, it allowed us to work with the hospital for the delivery. They moved the procedure to the main operating room, which meant my mom and I were both able to be present for the big event. Needless to say, it was the best moment of my life to date!
Now that the twins are a permanent fixture in our household, every day is an adventure because they are growing so fast and learning new skills. I make it a point to find meaningful ways to interact with both of them, and it is very fulfilling. My favorite activity is our daily walk with the twins in Baby Bjorns. I usually end up with our daughter, and she and I motor around the block really well. Both of them love riding with me, and they get so excited when they see me put the Bjorn on!
(Darren and Sophie out and about!)