Going to the Park as a Blind Mama

The first time I took my daughter to the park was intimidating. I knew she was big enough to start going in the swing, but it wasn’t her I was nervous about. I wasn’t terribly comfortable with the layout of the playground. What if I couldn’t find the baby swings? Would other parents be grabbing me and dragging me around the place if they saw me trying to get oriented? What if all the baby swings were taken? How would I know and wouldn’t it be really awkward if I just stood there close by, listening to determine whether they were occupied? What if the other parents talked to me? Or, what if none of the other parents wanted to talk to me? What if all the children were attracted to Prim and she couldn’t do her job because she was being distracted? 

I know it sounds dramatic, but my heart was racing along with my thoughts as I directed Prim to the gate of the playground and we made our way toward where I thought the swing set would be. As I suspected, parents did immediately notice me and offered help, but it wasn’t in the sort of aggressive way I was expecting. They just greeted me kindly and offered help if I needed it. I had an immediate sense of simultaneous panic and relief, something like, “Oh no! They are talking to me!”, while at once thinking, “Oh thank the Lord, they are talking to me”

One dad let me know that he and his child were using the swing closest to me, but that there was one available right next to them. I was endlessly thankful he had chosen merely to give me useful information about the location of an available swing, rather than seeing me close by and rushing to move himself and his child out of the way, which sometimes happens and always makes me feel terrible. We struck up a friendly conversation for a minute while we pushed our little ones in the swings side by side, and I started to breath. This going to the park thing wasn’t so bad after all.

Every time I have gone since, it has gotten easier and easier, and today was down right delightful. Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed her time in the swing, then walked and crawled about, happily observing the other children at their play, climbing the steps of the jungle gym, and obliging me as I put her on the slide a few times. One mother admired my daughter, remarking, “She’s gorgeous.” and we had a casual back and forth about our little girls, while two other mothers recognized me from a mums and tots group we have taken part in and we chatted amiably the whole time. 

Once a cause for anxiety, trips to the park are becoming more and more a blessing, and the glimpse of possible friendships developing from it is an even more unexpected bonus. Add to that Prim’s great work taking me right to the gate of the playground, and then the baby swings, and the incredible weather… and I’m just feeling really thankful for trips to the park with my two sweet girlies.

When Mama Is Not Enough

I was spending the afternoon at a friend’s house a couple of months ago. Her son, who was about 16 months at the time, loves books. I’d sat next to him and his mama while she read to him, but this time, he brought the book to me.

Woman reading a book to a toddler. Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

“Uh-oh.” I said, as he put the book in my hands. I wanted to read it to him, but it was in print, and I couldn’t. My friend laughed at my expression. 

“It’s okay. Just make it up. He won’t know the difference.” 

I did, with the book upside down for a while hahaha until he went and chose another book. I kept making things up, and my friend was right, he didn’t seem to mind. Still, I shuttered to think about the moment, months or years down the road, when my child would bring me a book that I couldn’t read to her. Would I react so calmly in that situation, or would I break down because I couldn’t do it for her. 

It makes me sad that I can’t read any old book to her, that I have to have specific books brailled out or in digital formats to be able to share them with her, but that’s not going to change, and in reality, it wouldn’t be any different if I were a sighted parent. Sure, I could read books to her without a problem, but I’d have other failures, distractions, difficulties as an individual that would be challenging in other ways, a detriment to her. I know without a doubt that my blindness has shaped me as a person. Would I be as good of a mom to my baby if I hadn’t been molded so? Considering I believe in a sovereign God who shapes every one of our experiences I don’t think so. He made me the way I am for a purpose, and he chose me, out of billions, to be my daughter’s mama. 

When encountering those moments, I think it is important to remember a couple of things.

1 God will use my deficiencies to shape my daughter, just as I have been molded by them and those of my parents. He is a good God, and he will redeem every one of them for his glory and good purpose.

2 It is inevitable that I will fail my daughter, and frequently, but when she feels the weight of my failures, she has a heavenly father to run to who will never fail or forsake her. Every single time I prove inadequate in some way, there is an opportunity for her to turn to the one who lacks nothing, who gives graciously of his own perfect being to each of his children in abundant measure.

And thus, what appears to me utter insufficiency will become for her wholly sufficient, not because she has all in me or in any created thing, but because she has Christ, and in him, she has everything.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 36!

We are finally getting toward the end of sharing my pregnancy journey with you. I enjoyed filming these videos so much, and am glad I will have them to look bak on in the future. In this update, I share about a doctor’s visit, virtual baby shower, and our final preparations for baby. Watch my 36 week update here.

Thanks again for joining!

The Desire to Adopt as an Adopted Child of God | Reflecting on #WorldAdoptionDay

I have an adopted sister. She was adopted by her parents too, although not my parents. She was four years old when her parents adopted her as family, and 20 when I did. It’s funny when you adopt a sister apart from your parents, because there’s no legal process, no way to make the bond official to anyone else but yourselves, but the sisterhood is still there. She witnessed me grow up from a 16 year old, hot-headed kid to a 26 year old married, possibly still somewhat hot-headed mother. I have been there as she has navigated multiple college degrees, study-abroad, the loss of a parent, and marriage. God willing, we will share decades more of this life together, and she will be no less a sister when we are in our 80’s than she is now.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve always had the desire to adopt a child. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the bond between parent and progeny is far more than biology. On this #WorldAdoptionDay, I can’t help thinking about that desire. In some ways it’s frightening to acknowledge. No matter how smooth the process, adoption always comes from a place of brokenness, and there are consequences for that. I know even from adopting an adopted sister that the trauma of loss from those early days of life can echo throughout the rest of a person’s adult years. We know from the Gospel that bringing such a child into your family is no easy task. Christ had to die on a cross to do it for us. Thus the adoptive parent must also take up their cross, and that daily, even hourly. 

And yet, the love that Christ has shown to us beckons me to love as he did, to share, as our father in heaven does, the love of a parent with one who would otherwise be orphaned. So the desire remains, and I struggle in prayer as I ask God to one day make it possible. I know that the desire for children is a good one, and we believe that God will place whatever children he has for us in our lives through whatever means he intends, whether through birth or adoption or otherwise. We know also that he will provide for those children, so as doubtful as it seems now that we, a year married with an infant in a tiny one-bedroom and a rather limited income, will ever be able to raise the funds to afford an adoption or have the sort of house we would need to pass a home study, we know that God is capable of far more than anything we would ask or think. It seems impossible that we, rebellious and rejected children, could ever be accepted into the family of a perfect and holy God, and yet through Jesus, that is exactly what we are. I believe it is possible in this case as well. Even if legal adoption is not in God’s plan for our family, I know that he will give us opportunities to lavish His love upon other unofficial family members, like my sister. For that,I am thankful, and will praise God as I continue to pray in hope. 

“Behold what manner of love the father has lavished unto us, that we should be called the sons of GOd.” (1 John 3:1)

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 16

Excited to share the next installment of my pregnancy journey! This week, I talk about baby’s development so far, my blind parenting tip of the week, symptoms (including one that might be TMI, so feel free to skip those few moments of the video), plus some of my thoughts at the time on parenting fears etc.

Check out my newest video here

And come back next week for more updates!

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 10

Enjoy my second update in my Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog series! A similar set up as my first video, detailing symptoms, things I was thinking about, and my prayers at the time.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 10

Be sure to check back for more updates next week!

Have any questions about life as a blind person, guide dog user, or blind parent-to-be? Feel free to comment here or on Youtube! Are you a blind parent yourself and want to help inform others about the capabilities of blind and vision impaired people? Share this video, and drop me a comment to let me know what might be good topics to discuss here and on my channel.

Until next time…

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 8

I’ve had a few false starts with publishing youtube videos, but it’s mostly because I feel a bit uncomfortable with the vulnerability of filming. Somehow it feels much less personal to publish written posts on my blog, rather than record something with audio and visuals, but I have felt for a long time that I have a responsibility at some level to share my experiences as a blind person, and now particularly as a blind parent, in order to inform others about the capabilities of blind people.

I’ve always enjoyed watching pregnancy updates on youtube, but have never seen one by a blind content creator. I thought making my own might therefore be a great way to reflect on my experiences throughout pregnancy, while also sharing about blind parenting techniques. More than anything, I hope the thing people take away from this video is the utter “ordinariness” of my experiences, despite my unusual perspective as someone with a visual impairment.

In this first video, enjoy hearing how we found out about our precious little one, plus symptoms and the equipment/products we’ve acquired so far.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog Week 8

**Keep in mind this is a pregnancy update, and naturally will contain info that might be a bit TMI for some.

For more updates, be sure to check back here or on my youtube channel next week, or find more blog posts on blind parenting here.

The Stroller Struggle | What to Keep in Mind When Searching for a Buggy as a Blind Parent

Working out which buggy/pram/stroller to get was one of the first challenges that came to mind after finding out we were expecting. As a blind mama, I won’t be pushing a stroller, but pulling it behind me. The problem is most strollers are not designed for this sort of functionality. For that reason, I plan to use a baby-carrier in most situations, but more on that in another post. Back to buggies.

The Problem with Pulling a Stroller that’s Designed for Pushing

Wheels-

In most cases, strollers are designed with swivel wheels in the front that move easily in the direction you desire to travel, if you are pushing from the back, that is. If you are pulling it, the swivel wheels become a nuisance because they fishtail every time you try to turn. In addition, the fixed wheels in the back of the stroller make it difficult to turn because they do not move in accordance with your direction of travel. This means that the only way to turn while pulling is to lift the stroller slightly or allow the stroller to tip somewhat to one side. Obviously, this isn’t ideal.

Handle-

Many strollers have two vertical handles to push the chair along. These models are virtually impossible to pull comfortably as you have to choose a side, left or right, that you will use, leaving your control of the contraption quite lopsided.

Handle-Height-

Another problem with prams is that the handle is often too high to comfortably grasp from behind. If you think about a pull suitcase, one can hold the handle easily at the resting length of one’s own arm, but often times a stroller handle is waste height or higher (at least for anyone like me who’s a few inches below average height).

Direction of Chair or Carry Cot 

Some buggies have a fixed facing position for the chair or carry cot and do not allow the user to reverse their original positioning. This means that while your child may have been facing the most desirable direction when pushing the buggy, they may not be facing the direction you or your child would like when pulling it.

Price-

There are strollers with features that ameliorate some or all of these issues, but in my experience so far, they are often much more expensive.

So, What Are the Solutions?

1 Wheels that can be adjusted from swivel to fixed in both the front and back of the stroller. If this is not possible, a reversible handle may also be a functional option. If the stroller is a model which has fixed wheels in the back when pushing, and swivel wheels in the front, a reversible handle allows the user to place the swivel wheels nearest the handle, that is toward the front when pulling, and the fixed wheels furthest from the handle, or in the back when pulling.

2 A horizontal push bar. This allows the user to pull from the center of the handle, rather than only from the left or right side.

3 A low, hip-high handle (or lower if possible) that can be adjusted to be higher/longer only if need-be 

4 Reversable chair or carry cot. This allows the user to switch the facing direction of the chair or cot independent of the stroller handle.

5 Buy used! I knew this could be one of the priciest items on our baby must-haves list, so I decided to research which stroller I needed as early as possible so that I could be looking out for a suitable model on second-hand websites. I’m SO GLAD I did! Our chosen model, the Bugaboo Chameleon, retails online for around 800 euro. We were blessed to find an older version of the stroller and several handy excessories online for a grand total of 50 euro.

Another option you might consider is to purchase a travel wagon. They do tend to be bulkier than your typical stroller, but they definitely seem more practical when you have multiple children to cart around, and, of course the best thing about them is that they are designed specifically to be pulled. Keep in mind, though, that many of them have limitations when it comes to traveling with a newborn.

In every case, don’t forget to consider which carseat you plan to purchase and whether it will be compatible with the stroller or wagon you choose.

I hope this post was helpful! Please subscribe for more content, and click here to read more posts from my parenting blind series. Until next time, happy trails to you and your family.