Editor's Note: This series features a panel of women with various disabilities and mobility challenges who share their personal experiences with motherhood, and resources that other women can use to overcome and cope with those challenges.
For many women, the privilege of being a mother comes with both beautiful moments they get to experience while raising a child, and fears and stressors the responsibility entails. For women with disabilities, especially those who have mobility challenges, the excitement of accomplishing the tasks that come with motherhood and overcoming the stressors and fears is even more significant because of the barriers they face.
By sharing their own life experiences, guidance and resources with others, peer support helps people understand that their challenge is not unique to them. It offers an opportunity to meet new friends with whom they can relate and to overcome life challenges.
Today we meet Ovi, who shares her story about being a mom while also dealing with some of the challenges that come with fibromyalgia and MS.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2008, and with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in 2016. My son was just eight years old at the time. At first, my family thought that I was faking my symptoms, which eventually led to me losing my job and my ability to provide a home for my son. Now, I rely on a wheelchair daily for most of my mobility. The biggest challenge I faced was my son's initial reaction to accepting seeing me in a wheelchair. I was already dealing with self-esteem issues and transitioning to my new lifestyle, so teaching him to accept me was difficult.
I also found it difficult at times to support him with educational activities because while accommodations have been made upon request to visit the classroom, there have been many events and activities that I have had to miss due to lack of access. However, it was at school where he learned to accept and understand my challenges, and accept my disability after meeting a friend whose mother also has fibromyalgia. By learning he was not alone in the feelings he was experiencing and seeing how well they were doing as a family, he began to accept the new me and is now a great help to me around the house, cooking and cleaning.
I am now no longer homeless, and things are working out much better in our life. I am still learning to accept my limitations and a new way of life. Attending the Abilities Expo in Los Angeles last year was my first real experience embracing my new community and seeking resources for myself. I am now also working on creating awareness for HSCT (Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation), a costly treatment for MS. I’m doing this through my music. I’m hoping to release an album soon and have recently released a sample of one of my tracks.