Learning to trust: Parenting with cerebral palsy

For Christina Han, a young mom with cerebral palsy, the joys and rewards of parenting far outweigh the doubts and insecurity she experienced while pregnant. As a new parent with CP, she has learned to trust herself rather than let fear and self-doubt creep into her mind.

When she became pregnant, Christina was excited but still uncertain about the process, including her apprehension about the potential for a miscarriage and her overall concern for the health of the baby. She learned to put those thoughts at the back of her head and focus on the joy of parenthood more than the concerns.

Christina was reassured early on that her pregnancy would go smoothly. “I am very thankful that during my first maternity visit at Langley Memorial Hospital, the doctor told me a very encouraging story. She said: ‘I delivered three babies for this same mom with CP, she’s more severe than you, and all of her babies are super healthy!’ I am glad that she shared that story with me very early on in my pregnancy, it means a lot to me.”

Gina and Christina

Confronting self-doubt

One example of learning to trust herself was confronting the fear that she is going to drop her baby girl. Christina has found the courage to carry baby Gina around, and she proudly exclaims: “Now that she is six months old, I can already carry her up and down the stairs and carry her in my right side (which is my bad side) while picking up a bottle she dropped.”

Christina says her friends and co-workers are surprised at how well she is handling parenthood, recalling an instance when Gina was crying but stopped when Christina picked her up. She says her friend gave her high praise, commenting that Christina is “like a professional”. Christina is also active with her daughter in the community as she sings, reads, and talks to Gina and takes her on walks in the park.

Christina works for the Richmond Centre for Disability and is a former staff member of the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia. She feels her daughter has inherited a lot of her characteristics, including being engaging and clear-minded. “If she wants milk, and we bring her milk and show her the bottle [and ask]: ‘Do you want this Gina?, she will give us the assurance smile,” Christina says.  “If we bring her something she doesn’t want, she will look at it for about two seconds and then continue crying.”

As Gina grows up, Christina wants her daughter to respect everyone as equals and not focus on their disability or one trait. She hopes to explain to her daughter that having a disability is only one part of her—not all of her—and that no mother is perfect regardless of whether they have CP or not. “There is one thing that all moms have in common,” says Christina. “That is care for their baby wholeheartedly, with their best abilities.”

Trusting oneself

Christina’s message for parents with CP is to trust yourself as you walk through life’s journey. She says that the doubt others might have about you gives you all the more reason to believe in yourself.  “Try to live happily every day and see the bright side of things and you will definitely get very far in life,” she says.

 This story was shared as part of World Cerebral Palsy Day 2016WCPD16_Logo_WorldDate_CMYK (1)


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