Whenever I hear of parents, both sighted and blind, going on adventures with their babies (and I am not talking about hikes up mountains, but to the Easter Show for example), it hits me. I have a terrible case of “I want to be able to do that with my baby too” envy. Yes envy/jealousy is bad I know, and I shouldn’t be feeling like this because there are people far worse off than me, and I am fully aware of that.
The next time I hear of a sighted parent complaining about what a logistical nightmare it is taking the kids shopping or whatever, I will scream. You see, I envy you-I wish I could go out with my baby to the supermarket or anywhere else for that matter, on my own. I can’t even take my baby and guide dog out together by myself because of Yannie’s distractability with cats and dogs. If I had known it would be like this, I probably wouldn’t have asked to have Yannie back, because what’s the point of having a guide dog if you have to take the baby and guide dog out separately? It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Am I different? I know, a stupid question, because we are all different right? On one hand, I have thoughts and feelings just like everyone else, and I go about my daily life just like any other “normal” (love that word, because what is normal?) person. On the other hand, I am a non-sighted person living in a sighted world, and unfortunately that’s what a lot of the public seems to see-my blindness first, putting it bluntly.
I never really knew I was different, until it hit me at about the age of nine, that hey I’m blind and nothing was going to change that. I just thought I was like all the other kids. High school made it very clear to me that I was different, on no uncertain terms. I used my school work as a shield for how I was really feeling about myself and how some of my classmates treated me, until 7th form when I couldn’t handle it any more and I needed help.
Fast forward 12 years and I am in a much better place mentally and emotionally. I still get reminders that I’m “different” from everyone else, and I’ve noticed it much more since becoming a Mum. A couple of incidents last year were when I got stared at when walking through the mall with Ella in the front pack, or when someone thought she wasn’t my baby-that really hurt. I wonder, do sighted or able bodied parents get stared at, apart from when their kid is throwing a tantrum or misbehaving? I bet they don’t.
So what is the whole point of this post you might be asking, as it probably doesn’t make much sense. Please try to look at the person first, rather than their disability, and please try not to make assumptions based on what you think you know about them.
Someone called me “The Gagit Queen” once, and I must admit I do love gagits, especially kitchen ones :). A lot of them I saw on TV, like The Nicer Dicer Plus, The One Touch Potato Peeler, and The Tefal Minute Cook which is basicly an electric pressure cooker that has three big buttons on it which is easy for me to remember.
I love my one touch potato peeler because it is battery operated, and I just have to press a button and I can peel a potato in maybe a minute compared to longer than that using a normal potato peeler. My nicer dicer plus is wonderful too because you can chop veges and fruit in multiple ways without the risk of cutting your fingers (the blades are sharp though, so I have to be careful putting them in and taking them out-they do have safety guards on them when not in use). I’m thinking of using it to help make my own solids for Ella :). The Nicer Dicer Plus also has a cheese grater attachment :).
My slow cooker is one of my best kitchen friends because I can put a meal on in the morning and just leave it. I have a couple of slow cooker books in Braille, and I use the Maggi and Mccormic packet mixes (thanks guys! :)). So sorry for the incorrect spelling. I also find www.foodinaminute.co.nz a wonderful resource for recipes too because I can navigate it easily :). I have quite a few cooking books in Braille too :).
So there are just some of the kitchen gagits I wouldn’t be without. I hope to upload some videos soon which will show you more about how my kitchen is set up, and I think I will make a meal from start to finish too! :).
One thing I have been asked over the years when I mentioned I want children was “Is your blindness inherited?”…No it isn’t. Another of the assumptions someone said to me once was something along the lines of, “You will need 24-7 help if you have children”. Again, no I won’t, and no I don’t. It made me laugh, and still does now, how people think that just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean they won’t be able to cope with becoming a parent. From my own personal experience, I’ve delt with many challenges in my life, and becoming a parent is one I’ve welcomed with open arms. I’ve approached it like every other challenge I’ve had in my life-head on with determination.
As part of my preparation, I went over to a friend’s house during my pregnancy and helped out with their baby, helping to feed, change and bath him. I even managed to pick him up and carry him the short distance to his cot. I know that might seem trivial to a lot of people, but it was a big thing for me. Each time I learned a new skill, I grew with confidence. I also did a free course through Hadley School For The Blind in America. There are three courses, and I have done the first one. the link is www.hadley.edu
For me, it was important to be prepared for the arrival of our daughter quite a few months in advance. I counted down the days until her arrival-more about that in another post. A final note before I sign off-planning and preparation are the keys :).
Hi, my name is Jessica Ferri (you can call me Jess). I am 29 years old, and live in New Zealand with my husband and our daughter, my guide dog and a cat. I have been blind since I was a baby (I was not born blind-that’s a question I get asked a lot). Another question I have been asked a lot is “Is your husband sighted?”
A lot of people have often wondered how I manage with everyday tasks, and now add to that being a very proud Mum of a nearly 7 month old daughter :). I have a lot of help from family and friends, and I also have some cool gagits such as a pen friend which I use to label things such as food (tins of tomatoes, and Maggi packet mixes), and my colour coder which tells me what colour clothes are so I can sort them to do my washing. I wouldn’t be without these pieces of equipment, oh and my liquid level indicator which allows me to make a hot drink.
The big thing for me now, especially being a Mum, is having a good routine-I can’t function without it. It was important for me even before I had our daughter. I also have cards which have both Braille and print on them, so whoever is with me knows what’s been done and what needs to be done. They have Velcro on the back, which attaches to another piece of cardboard with Velcro on it too-then when things are done, I pull them off and put them in a container, and then put the next ones up.
There is a lot more I could mention here, but I will leave them for future posts, as well as youtube videos and podcasts :).
Thank you for reading and please watch this space! :).