Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Learning to live with a disability

car_accident"When life gives you rocks, build bridges not walls"
Tum2mom chats to Michelle, a single mom to Chelsea, who is now an independent 18 year old living in CT. When Chelsea was 4 years of age, Michelle was involved in a horrific car accident, rendering her paralyzed from the waist down. After months of extensive rehabilitation, Michelle was faced with the task of rediscovering herself and learning to be a mom, in a wheelchair and in what she feels to be, a society that is ill equipped to support people with disabilities.
What do you feel is the general attitude towards people with disabilities in South Africa?
Almost like a nuisance.
Do you find that your friends and family have been supportive?
Short term people were very supportive but long term, I feel like it has become a hassle.
What is your opinion on accessibility for disabled people in SA?
Virtually non-existent, almost to the point of being disgusting. The company that I was working for before my accident, didn't re-employ me once I had recovered, saying that the building was not suitable for people like me.
What would you like to see change?
Changes in transportation and accessibility into buildings. Work is incredibly challenging. Although I can get into the building, I am constantly told, that because they don't see me as being disabled, they just don't think. Even the simple things like making a cup of tea, I can't reach the counter or the kettle. It would be nice if people would just think, to make me a cup of tea. I won't ask for help, I despise asking for help. It is not the big things, you know, it is the small things that drive you crazy. I don't bother driving because although there are disabled parkings, anyone parks in them and if I do find a parking, it is not guaranteed that I can get into the building. There is not always wheelchair access.
How do you think your disability has affected your parenting?
I had my accident when my daughter, Chelsea was 4 years old. It was very difficult. You become so obsessed with your own loss. My child almost became a parent to me. She was constantly trying to make mommy feel better. Chelsea is now 18 years old. She lived with her dad through her teens, from 8-16 years of age. And I sometimes feel guilty that I couldn't do more, that I missed out on so much. And I feel embarrassed for her, when she has to introduce her disabled mom to her friends. But it is me, it is my problem. My child's attitude is, "this is my mom and that is it". But still, I leave her to be her own independent person.
On a practical level, what kind of modifications did you need in your home and life in general, in order to care for your child, such as pushing a pram, putting your child in the car, having the correct height changing table, etc?
It was difficult to find the right home for me but there has almost always been an able bodied person living with and assisting me. After the accident, I moved in with Chelsea's dad, I then had a live in maid and currently live with my father. When Chelsea was very young, I was still able to do everything and at the age of 4, she could do things like get into the car on her own. There was a short amount of time where we lived on our own and it was very stressful because I couldn't always get to her. She would go outside and stay there for hours. I would feel so helpless and frustrated and would be hysterical by the time she got back. I don't drive, so I have to rely on others. I don't have any modifications in my home. After my accident, I spent time in a Bloemfontein hospital, which is a military rehabilitation centre. I had to learn how to cope there, with no fancy things to help. If I look back, it was probably the best thing for me at the time.
Is there any advice you can give to our readers about mothering and disability?
It is difficult for me to give advice on mothering, I don't really hold traditional views. I don't think disabled people should have kids. Why create more challenges, unless you have the money for a full time nanny. There are so many things that can go wrong - it is dangerous. Anything can go wrong. How do you care for or help that child, as a single, disabled parent.
Is there anything you would like to add or advice you can give on empowering disabled South African citizens?
People's attitudes need to change. I have lived in South Africa and the States. It is like two different worlds and two different attitudes. In America, everything is set up for independence. If changes are made in South Africa, in terms of structure, education, transportation, health care, etc., a lot more people would be self-sufficient.
I was lucky after my accident that Chelsea's dad could look after her. I was mourning my loss of self and was glad someone else could take care of her during that time.