New Mommy on Wheels

Kristina Rhoades, WC ’08, with husband Jacob, Kamryn Marlee and Chevy, lives in Dawsonville, Ga.
Kristina Rhoades, WC ’08, with husband Jacob, Kamryn Marlee and Chevy, lives in Dawsonville, Ga.

I always wanted to have children. And, although I knew there would be unknowns and unique challenges because of my spinal cord injury, I also knew that I was destined to be a mommy. Doctors told me it was possible and that was all I needed to hear. Today, it’s almost unreal that it’s a dream come true. On Nov. 11, my husband and I welcomed our perfect baby girl into the world.

Despite being completely paralyzed from the waist down, my pregnancy went surprisingly smoothly. That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging toward the end, but looking back, it was so brief. Kamryn Marlee joined us one month early via Caesarean section, without complications, and both of us have been in great health ever since. Our little family feels so natural and right. It’s already hard to imagine life without our daughter.

Learning how to be a mom is probably one of the greatest tasks in the world, but doing it from a wheelchair takes some added creativity. I had the best help in my sweet husband, as well as my mom, but it was important to me to be able to do things on my own. It was evident right away that if I was going to be alone with Kamryn, I would have to figure out how to accomplish some of the basics. At first it was more difficult, as I was still regaining strength and simply learning how to handle a newborn. Even accomplishing something as simple as getting her in and out of her swing or wheeling around the house together took some practice. But with each passing day, we’re getting better and becoming more and more comfortable.

One of the coolest parts about this experience is watching my baby adapt to my abilities and needs. For example, she’s already using those little legs to help push off of things when I lift her up. I appreciate her patience with me as I get my methods down. While her daddy and grandparents pick her up so gently, sometimes I’m a little less graceful, and she doesn’t seem to mind at all. Soon she’ll be hanging on to me, climbing into my lap and eventually, helping me reach things off the top shelf.

As we cherish each phase of her life, I’ll have to continue to be creative if I want to be the engaged, active mom that I plan to be. I think ahead to her toddler years and imagine her running to places that my wheelchair can’t go. But, we’ll figure that out when we get there. Right now, we’re busy conquering the tasks of today. And I must say, the feeling of accomplishment when we manage to do something new when we’re all alone is a fantastic feeling. We still have a lot to learn and a lot to teach each other.

I know there are many women out there who are in a similar situation to me – women who want to start a family, but are doubtful of their own abilities or scared of the unknown. If I could offer a few words of wisdom after the short experience I’ve had thus far, it would be this: Never underestimate the potential of the human body, think positive (try not to worry) and just go for it. This journey is unlike any other and for each ounce of strength and struggle, there’s an endless amount of rewards.

Kristina Rhoades, a Mass Communication major who was station manager at WBCX-FM at Brenau until March, is Atlanta Abilities Expo Ambassador

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