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Heather Kuttai is a 40-year-old white, heterosexual woman. She is married and is the mother of two children. Living in a quiet, middle-class neighbourhood, her life is, in many ways, seemingly the quintessential picture of what many consider to be traditional. However, her life is not as conventional as it appears: she is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her disability dramatically changes the picture. Much of the writing about the experiences of women and mothers excludes the stories of women with disabilities. Established norms dictate that a mother’s body be “healthy” and “whole.” Because the body with disabilities is often seen for what it cannot do, taking on the role of mother can give the body a different value, status and worth. Heather’s experiences as a woman with a disability experiencing pregnancy and childbirth offers insights into what is already known about women’s bodies. The stories she tells of her life, her pregnancies and giving birth illustrate both her self-awareness and her awareness of our society’s negative perceptions of disability.
“I do not know if I am always happily indifferent to the ones who have consistently been wrong about me, but I do know that I strive to be. Some days I get it right. Other days I struggle. The autoethnographic process has made me realize that I am living an extraordinary life and that I have a body worth celebrating. My body has done, and continues to do, incredible things. The lack of expectations that surrounded me as a woman with a disability were not ones I had to necessarily live with. I am an agent. It is hard work. But it is good work.” – from the epilogue