Baby Bonding and Vision Loss
When I had my baby boy four months ago, I didn’t really think about baby classes and how I may find them difficult. With my first son, eight years ago, I had no idea that I had Stargardt's and it wasn’t affecting my life yet.
Which baby group?
I thought about groups I could take my 4-month-old to this time around, knowing I am losing my eyesight and have a fair amount of blind spots.
I wondered about sing and sign. But how would I see well enough to copy the signing and then relay it back to my little boy? I didn’t sign up for that one. Then I thought about swimming, but pools can often be dark and again, would I be able to see what the instructor is doing? Sometimes the lighting on the water can cause massive issues because the glare from it can hurt my eyes and cause my central vision to flash. In the end, I decided to take my baby to baby massage as this is all about the physical side of bonding using touch and I thought I may not struggle as much with this one.
With baby massage, I was well aware that I would still need to be able to follow the moves. So I was brave and contacted the instructor, who was wonderful and each week she sent me out the sheet of the routine for me to look through at home before our class. This enabled me to become confident with the massage and this helped me to know what I was doing beforehand. As baby massage is all done through touch, for someone who can’t see their baby properly, it is a real bonding activity for you and your baby that doesn’t involve your eyesight. My instructor literally explained every little detail throughout, which made it easy to follow without even having to watch the massage movements.
You can do it
I would tell any mums reading this, who would like to attend baby groups but are worrying that they won’t be able to follow what is going on, that it is best to be honest with the person running it. Being honest allows them to help make your experience as fulfilling as the fully sighted mums' experiences. I would definitely try sing and sign and swimming now, but I would make sure to contact the person running it beforehand so they are aware of my situation and can adapt the class or offer handouts in advance to help me. There is nothing worse than sitting there worrying and not enjoying something that everyone else is (I know this all too well!). Our vision loss shouldn’t exclude us, so we need to speak out. We shouldn’t miss out because of our vision loss. I would also highly recommend baby massage classes to any mum with vision loss. We loved it so much that we have signed up for the baby yoga next month and we can’t wait!
Do you find it easy to advocate for yourself?