On a recent visit to the doc’s office that coincided same week my daughter returned to school, I welcomed verbiage bestowed upon me that included the following: “You lost 2 lbs, you have such white teeth, you don’t look old enough to have a child in college.” *Thinks well, it don’t crack* A bit less welcomed however was: “You started young” *almost choked, face cracks*
And though 21 (age when I gave birth to my daughter) was young it was the subtext of that statement that hung in the air a bit like rancid milk. Rewind to the day of of my daughter’s birth almost 22 years ago, I recall a similar exchange with a doctor that included inquiry of my ability to properly care for my baby after the doctor noted I had a disability. At first I thought she was referring to my youthful appearance making a judgement call equating age with inexperience. I soon realized she was wondering if I had the physical capabilities to care for my newborn child.
My labor had been painstakingly long, lasting a torturous 26 hours and the assistance of forceps to bring forth this new life may have prompted the query since it was particularly difficult with weakened abdominal muscles due to having a form of Muscular Dystrophy. The birthing process for many women is often exhausting and labor intensive; disability adds another dimension as it does to any setting and one’s ability is always in question. This is due in part to limited narratives…
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