Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability
The author of a new book on motherhood, from the perspective of a woman with a disability, hopes to inspire others facing physical-and societal-barriers to having a family.
Heater Kuttai of Saskatoon is the author of Maternity Rolls: Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability, which recounts her experiences as a paraplegic and mother of two.
Kuttai was paralyzed at the age of six following a car accident.
“It wasn’t really expected that I would ever finish high school or go to university,” she told CBC News in a recent interview. “It wasn’t expected that I would do any sports. Or find love or find a job. Or have babies.”
Kuttai, 40, says she encountered many people who thought someone with a disability could not be sexual or bear children. She also faced attitudes that people in wheelchairs need care, and cannot be caregivers. Kuttai said she and her husband were keen to start a family, and were even considering adoption when she discovered she was pregnant
While many people were thrilled about the news of her pregnancy, she said some reacted with concern
“Some people were really surprised … and were worried,” she said. “They were worried about how I was going to be able to do it – not just how I would grow the baby and deliver the baby, but how I would look after a baby.”
She said her first pregnancy was a learning experience for her and her doctor.
“I really believed that there just weren’t enough stories being told about this situation,” Kuttai said about putting her experiences down in a book.
“I wasn’t going to be the only woman with a complicated body or a complicated life who wanted to have children. So [the stories] just had to come out.”
Kuttai has a 13-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter.
“I’ll still get questions like ‘Is she really yours?’” Kuttai said. “And as hurtful as those are, we just kind of have to carry on.”
Her son told CBC News that he doesn’t think much about his mom’s disability. But he thinks the world of her accomplishment as an author
“I’m really proud of my mom,” Patrick Seib told CBC News. “I’m happy she’s doing this [book] and it’s really an amazing thing.”
Kuttai said she also wrote the book to influence others.
“I hope it will change attitudes about the way people with disabilities are seen and heard,” she said. “I hope that it will give strength to other people with disabilities who want to experience what it’s like to love a child.”
–CBC, May 9, 2010