Pregnant and Paralyzed: The Rollercoaster

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on January 24, 2023 # Health, Lifestyle

Krisitn and her husband Pregnancy has been a wild ride so far, and I’m referring to a rollercoaster from when I was a kid and didn’t get motion sick. The fun kind of rollercoaster! I know I’m one of the lucky ones because being pregnant hasn’t brought on a bunch of nausea or discomfort (…yet? Stand by).

I’m paralyzed from the mid-torso down (T8) and use a wheelchair, so all that luck of avoiding sickness was replaced by the challenge of my disability. As of now, my belly isn’t huge and I’m still months away from delivery, but there are a bunch of lessons that have already come out of these past months.

  1. Surround yourself. There are people out there who give birth and raise a baby on a metaphorical island, and all my hats are off to them. Good grief, I couldn’t do it. Physical challenges aside, there are days when I’ve found myself in an emotional and unfamiliar bundle that I don’t think I could crawl out of without my husband, parents, or friends by my side. God bless the people who attempt this alone, but not me.
  2. You’ll need some help, and I’ve never been good at asking for it. I have a complicated relationship with my independence – it’s something I’ve worked hard for, and I’m stubborn to give it up. My belly isn’t big enough to totally compromise me yet, but I know the day is coming when I’ll triple in size and want to wear pants, break down my wheelchair in the car like I used to, move around to different surfaces with ease, and a long list. At the same time, my center of balance is going to change, everything is going to be heavier, and I’ll need some extra help. I just will. I’ll have to accept that, at least temporarily.
  3. Things will look different. The most obnoxious point is the things I can’t do and the disabled-like adaptations I’ll have to make. I won’t be able to bend over my legs anymore, so I’ll blow-dry my hair sitting upright; I have to eat more food, drink more water, and be better about protein intake; I’ll go to the bathroom all the blasted time; my husband won’t be able to lift me into inaccessible buildings while I’m big; I’ll use grab bars wherever I can, like it or not, so I won’t faceplant, and; my transfers will have to be slower and more thoughtful for the same reason. I’ll discover a new set of workarounds like I did at the beginning of my disability.
  4. Speaking of eating enough food and protein, that’s a big one. The biggest. I didn’t have morning sickness in the traditional, nauseous sense, but my first semester was riddled with headaches from not eating or drinking enough. Second trimester introduced me to dizziness and feeling faint due to low blood sugar. That hits in the morning and lasts until I eat a big breakfast.
  5. Lots of adaptations will need to be made, so giddy up. I’m shocked at how little adaptive equipment there is out there for new parents. Thank God for an engineer father-in-law and my parents, who have lots of experience with adaptations. A lot of my workarounds are DIY, but I’ve had to build a few pieces (crib with a front opening, changing table I can pull under, etc.). This pregnancy has made me very aware of my limitations, but more of how those limitations can be accommodated.

I’m not an expert (by any means) and this list doesn’t cover it all. Every pregnancy is different, so yours might not look anything like mine. I hope I gave you somewhere to start, at least, something to think about, and some idea of what’s to come. Most of all, enjoy it! There’s a pot of gold (a baby) at the end of this rainbow.

Click here to read part one of Kristin's story

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

This blog is not intended as medical advice or to replace behavioral health care. Please consult your healthcare team.

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.