​​Motherhood Re-defined

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on November 30, 2020 # Lifestyle

By guest blogger Daniela (Dani) Izzie

In my early twenties and the early days of my spinal cord injury, I remember thinking that so much of the rehabbing and recovering I was engaging in was to prepare me for the time in my life when I would someday become a mother (even though I didn’t even have a partner at the time). Indeed, the desire to become a mother did play a role in my drive to achieve increasing levels of independence as a c5/6 quadriplegic woman. As mothers, and as future mothers, we know how powerful the will of motherhood is, how far it will push you to do things ultimately for the benefit of others. Sometimes, the hope of becoming a mother allowed me to put my own pain into perspective and move beyond my immediate trauma to picture a future dedicated to something bigger than me, something beautiful that would dwarf my paralysis.holding baby

And yet, some of the practical questions I felt I needed to address spun through my head like a laundry list of unending practical concerns. Cooking food? I need to figure it out to feed the kids. Transfers? I need to nail them down to be able to get out of bed to get to a crying baby. Driving? We need to get the resources for an adapted van to drive the kids to school. Cleaning? I need to keep the house clean and sanitary for the well-being of my family. Diapering, feeding, changing, carrying? Need all the adaptive gadgets and gizmos.

Eleven years and a set of infant twins later, and the reality of this utilitarian vision is kind of moot. While I achieved much, I don’t really do any of those things with much consistency. Sometimes I cook if my low blood pressure isn’t knocking me out. Transfers now consist of my husband, Rudy, lifting me - it’s just easier and faster. Cleaning is a shared effort with Rudy. Driving is something I still have not accomplished, but it is on the docket. I do not change diapers (yay). So, what DO I do? I pool resources, I direct care, I manage a schedule to implement helping hands from family members through the week, I read the books, get on the floor for tummy-time and play-time. I choose their outfits, shop online for their evolving needs. I work a remote job and save up money for their future. And I love them beyond measure, unconditionally.
parents holding baby
That was the greatest lesson when becoming a parent. The intimidation and insecurity I felt when I found out I was pregnant as a quad with two babies, not one, just dissolved away once they were born. I quickly learned motherhood was more about providing love and getting things done in a way that is not directly centered on my physical abilities, or lack thereof. Parenting with paralysis isn’t just about adapting and coming up with practical solutions, but it is about seeing your life through a new lens, and stepping out of holding yourself to the pre-injury vision of able-bodied ideas and expectations. The practical matters are still there, but most of them have to do with coordinating and designating care, and creating resources.

I hope to cover my twin pregnancy as a quadriplegic, and some of the adaptive parenting tools that have worked for me so far in future blog posts, so please stay tuned, and in the meantime, feel free to follow me on Instagram. I am also being featured in a documentary film called “Dani’s Twins,” set for release in 2021. Make sure to check out the trailer and follow film updates on Facebook.

Daniela (Dani) Izzie is a quadriplegic and mother to twins. She is an employee of a wheelchair wheel manufacturer, Spinergy, and lives with her husband, Rudy, in rural Virginia. She considers herself a disability advocate and is now passionate about elevating the voices and stories of parents with disabilities.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.