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Perseverance Through Pregnancy

Perseverance Through Pregnancy

My name is Erin, and I am so honored to be able to continue sharing my journey as a parent with a disability with you. You may remember me from this post where I shared the perspective of a parent with a disability. I thought it would be pertinent to share my pregnancy story with you so that you understand how I became a parent. Most people impacted by disability, perhaps more often women with disabilities, are told some version of a narrative that says that they should refrain from wanting to have children or acting upon the innate desire of a woman to bear children. In my case, a physician told me that I should not have children, not because it wasn’t biologically possible, but because of the anatomical changes that a body endures throughout conception and pregnancy. When this statement was made, I was a young teenager, and I hadn’t begun to seriously consider whether or not having children was a desire of mine, much less whether it was something that would be physically possible. 

I began thinking about childbirth and childrearing in mid-2017 after my now-husband and I were engaged and living in Atlanta. I found an obstetrician-gynecologist in Atlanta that we loved. His bedside manner was fantastic, and his approach to meeting my needs during basic annual exams was genuine and thorough. When the discussion went beyond normal gynecological treatment and into childbirth and childrearing, the doctor told us that he was “retiring” from delivering babies. Given that it is difficult to find adult providers who understand and treat adults with cerebral palsy, I panicked. I didn’t know how I would find another provider that would be as accepting and amenable to accommodating my needs. 

In the summer of 2018, my then-fiancé, now husband, accepted a job that would relocate us to an area of the state that is still more rural than Atlanta, but definitely more urban than the southernmost parts of the state. Things were hectic with our relocation: job changes, and upcoming wedding, so the discussion took a backseat to the other matters in our lives.  

Finally, in June 2020, after a year and a half of marriage, we found out that we were pregnant with our first child! There was only one large missing piece: I hadn’t found a physician in my new area who would treat me and who would, by default, confirm my pregnancy. We decided to venture back up to Atlanta until I found a physician in our then-new, now current, local area. Even though the experience with the doctor and his staff in Atlanta was pleasurable, my husband and I decided that it would be best to find a doctor who was local to us. One of my dear friends recommended a doctor with a physician group of all women. This local doctor performs pregnancy confirmation at nine weeks, which meant that we had to book the appointment at 9 weeks gestation, meaning that we had to wait that long for an appointment. When I walked into the room, I simply asked the doctor, a young female about my age, “Are my physical needs going to be a problem for you?” She stated that they wouldn’t be, and we progressed through the appointment. Despite being tired and hungry nearly all the time, my pregnancy was fairly normal. My son arrived via emergency C-section at 37 weeks and 2 days.  

In June of 2022, we unexpectedly found out that we were pregnant with our daughter, which meant that our children would be 23 months apart. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted to use the same doctor and practice. My experience with them for my first pregnancy helped me to learn to respect my body for the things of which it is capable, something that is often difficult for me, both as a female in my 30s and as someone whose body is working atypically. Around Thanksgiving of 2022, my doctor told me that she would be relocating and would be assigning my case to the other doctor in the practice. Luckily, during my first pregnancy, the practice was set up so that each birthing person would rotate through all the providers within the practice until the third trimester so that patients and doctors would be familiar with each other, no matter who was on call. This policy allowed me to become familiar with and get to know the doctor who would be delivering my second baby.  

My first pregnancy was largely uneventful in that I was not sick, but the physical aspects of pregnancy made it difficult. However, the second time, I experienced severe morning sickness every day for 16 weeks. But I was eating healthier than I had with my first, as well as getting more exercise and general movement. I understood the value of keeping moving on my overall mood, health, and the overall health of my babies.  

Currently, I have a more positive body image than I ever have because of my pregnancy. During this time, I saw the extent of my body’s capabilities that had never before been tested. Though pregnancy had been a challenging endeavor both times, they gave me unique opportunities to appreciate my body for its functions and provisions.  

My children are one and three years old at the time of this post, and they are both happy, healthy, and thriving. I couldn’t be more grateful to the state of Georgia for licensing physicians who care, go above and beyond, and teach their peers that patients are important. 

Written by: Erin Gill 

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