A new book for disabled parents has just launched. We’ve Got This contains contributions from 31 parents who identify as d/Deaf, disabled, neurodiverse or chronically ill, sharing their parenting journeys and highlighting the challenges that they have faced in society.
Eliza Hull is the mind behind this beautiful collection of stories. Eliza is a writer and musician who lives in Victoria, Australia and has two children. When she was pregnant with her first child she realised that there were no resources that catered for disabled parents, she experienced discrimination in medical settings and out in society, and this has fuelled a passion to create a book that provides all disabled parents with a resource of support and recognition.
Eliza advocates for the rights of disabled parents and understands that the greatest obstacles lie in other people’s attitudes: “Being a disabled parent is a rebellious act. Disabled people should have the same right to parent as anyone else, but often when we decide to start a family we are met with judgement and discrimination. We are questioned rather than supported. We have to push up against the medical system. And we have to confront society’s model of parenting. Yet, despite all this, we still choose to parent. And we are damn good at it too!”
We caught up with Eliza to find out more about producing We’ve Got This.
Can you please share a bit of your story and experience as a disabled parent?
I have a condition called Charcot Marie Tooth, it affects the way I walk, I fall over regularly and have muscle loss throughout my body. When I was pregnant seven years ago, I felt unrepresented as a disabled person. In all the stacks of parenting books I was given, there were no mums like me. In fact, there were no parents with disabilities at all. I wanted to feel represented, and know what it was going to be like to be a parent with a disability so that’s why I have the created the book I wish I had during my pregnancy.
I found it hard dealing with the medical system when I was pregnant, I was often discriminated against, and treated differently. When I had my first birth I wasn’t able to move from the bed because the medical staff were too worried about me falling over. It wasn’t until my second birth when I knew how to advocate for myself that I was able to have a successful and easy birth because I was able to move around freely.
For me the biggest barriers I have faced being a disabled parent is out in society. People with a disability make incredible parents because we are adaptable, flexible, creative and great problem solvers, it’s only when we go out in society that often we are judged and discriminated against.
What was your experience like in early motherhood, both personally and societally?
Motherhood is such a ride! I think every parent knows that feeling of bringing their first baby home and not knowing if they’re doing it ‘right’. For me there were added complexities in the mix because I was often afraid that I would make a mistake. It’s hard when you’re disabled because you feel like everyone is watching you, waiting for you to fail.
The hardest part in those early days was when I went out into society, people would stare if I lent up against my car to balance so I could safely get my baby out of the car, or would look at the way I was pushing the pram differently. Those were the hardest moments because you feel like you’re being judged.
Have you found a supportive community of disabled parents; how has this helped your experience?
Through creating the book We’ve Got This, I have been able to connect with such great disabled parents. I am also part of an online social media group which is wonderful. It means we can share our tips, ideas and hacks and just have people we can reach out to so we don’t feel so alone in our decision to parent.
Do you think attitudes have changed in society towards disabled parents?
I think they are definitely changing, but very slowly! Still today more than 60% of parents with an intellectual disability have their children taken from their care, without any adequate support or education.
People with disability are often questioned when they decide to start a family, and judged and discriminated, especially in medical settings.
In saying that, we are definitely seeing more representation of disabled parents, and the stories within We’ve Got This are changing the narrative around what it means to be a disabled parent. I want to show that parents with disabilities are successfully parenting, in fact we’re actually thriving!
Where did the idea for this book come from?
It came from my own personal need. When I was pregnant with my first child (I have two) I couldn’t find anything out there that represented parents with disabilities. You get given so many parenting books, but there wasn’t any that were about mums like me. That is what I have set out to change.
What do you hope this book gives to readers?
I really hope that people see that we make great parents! I hope that the book changes attitudes, shifts perceptions and reaches the people who need it. Especially within the disability sector and medical space. I also hope that the book reaches disabled people who’re considering having a family, so that they know that it’s possible.
You can purchase the book for £9.99 on Amazon or find it in all good bookshops.Get your copy of PosAbility Magazine
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