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Wheel Chair Bound and becoming a Mom!By Wendy Crawford
When I was nineteen years old, I sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of an automobile accident. As a young woman with this new life now presented before me, I had a myriad of questions for my doctors. The first question I had to ask, however, was not those portrayed in movies, such as “Will I walk again?” but instead I asked, “Will I still be able to become pregnant and carry a child?” Fortunately the answer was, “Yes,” and that was the last I heard about pregnancy with regard to spinal cord injury for many years.
Two years later, I consulted my physician about what forms of birth control would be suitable for me. I will never forget his answer: “Why don’t you have a hysterectomy and save yourself the nuisance of menstruation?” At the ripe old age of twenty-one, I was appalled at the extremity of this alternative and also that the doctor would think that I would even consider making such a monumental decision at such a young age.
Fast-forward to many years later. I share with my gynecologist that I’m interested in becoming pregnant. At least he was honest in his answer. He admitted that he knew nothing about the complications that I might face while carrying a child or giving birth. We decided that we would both research the topic. I called one of the leading rehabilitation centers in the United States. The people I spoke with were very polite and said that they didn’t really have any information on the subject but could possibly give me an e-mail address of a patient in the area who was pregnant.
Surely my situation is neither unique nor unprecedented; so why is finding information on women’s issues so difficult? It is because of my own personal journey of becoming a woman with a disability that I decided to form the website, mobileWOMEN.org.
After talking with numerous other women with similar situations, we all agreed that we need a central, easily accessible resource of information. The mission of mobileWOMEN.org is to bring together current and accurate information on issues of interest to women in wheelchairs and to enable them to learn from their most valuable resource, one another. Through a grant from the California Endowment Fund and a partnership with carecure.org, an informative, long-running website provided by the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers University, mobileWOMEN.org. came into existence.
In the past twenty five years, since I asked my first question as a quadriplegic, times have changed quite a bit. Women today are living their lives to the fullest – they attend college, have careers, raise children and are community leaders. Often, it is difficult being heard when you are a minority within a minority, but I believe that as disabled women continue to grow and vocalize, society's perspective will soon reflect this progress.
I have pondered whether or not we need another women’s liberation movement, as we had in the sixties, but perhaps the change needs to take place in the world around us. We must come together and share our experiences, so that the strength we have gained as a community and as individuals becomes apparent to others. Empowered with knowledge, there are no limits, only the limits that we set upon ourselves.
To quote Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
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