Before diving into today’s post, I wanted to update you beautiful Treasures on how my journey to reach as many of you as possible is going. Right now, my goal is to establish not only this site and blog, but a podcast and Youtube channel as well.
I purchased a lapel microphone from Amazon in hopes that it would heighten the audio quality of on-the-go podcasts and videos, but it turned out to be a flop with my iPhone 6S. I’ll be upgrading my phone, so when my XR arrives, I’ll give it another try before deciding whether to exchange it for another brand. Currently, when I use the microphone to record, there is a persistent buzzing that completely ruins the audio quality of the recording.
My ultimate goal is to purchase an actual camera for filming my Youtube videos, but for now, I’ll need to be content with my iPhone XR, because a good camera is just not in the budget. I’m also on the hunt for video and channel editors in order to make my Youtube channel as visually appealing as possible. I should honestly be hiring a WordPress designer as well to give this site a serious makeover.
I do have a Facebook page for those who may be interested in following me there and of course, I have a Twitter account. I do also have an Instagram account. There isn’t anything up there yet, as I’m going to need visual assistance with it and with the busy week I’ve had, there hasn’t been any time to sit down with Aira and play with it.
So, that’s where everything stands currently. For those of you waiting for the podcast and the Youtube channel, I promise, they will be here. It’s just taking far longer than I’d anticipated for equipment issues to be sorted out / editors to be found.
And now, on to today’s post, because it is a situation, I find myself in quite often.
The Top Ten Questions I Always Receive As A Blind Parent
Parenting is hard. Every mother and father know this. When blindness is added to the equation, floods of questions arise from sighted individuals. For many of them, it’s impossible for them to wrap their minds around the fact that while being a blind parent presents its share of challenges, it really isn’t the constant, horrific struggle they believe it to be. Today, I will share and answer (in no particular order) the top ten questions I always receive as a blind parent.
10. Is your daughter your eyes?
Not at all. My daughter is my child. I didn’t want to have her in order to have a set of working eyes at my side 24/7. She isn’t my guide, and she isn’t my caregiver. She is a typical little girl who is allowed and encouraged to play with her toys, to enjoy her artistic streak with markers, crayons and paint and to just be a little girl.
Now, there are times when I may drop something, and if she’s nearby, I’ll ask her if she can point out the object I dropped if I can’t find it on my own. (That, too, isn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be, and I’ll do a future blog / podcast / video on it.) Sometimes she sees me performing a task and asks if she can help, but if she’s busy doing her own thing, I never tear her away from it to serve as my eyes. She doesn’t guide me in unfamiliar environments. She doesn’t help me match outfits, even her own. She doesn’t help me cook meals or let me know if my makeup is applied well. With the Aira service, the Be My Eyes and The Seeing Ai apps coupled with the other tools in my toolbox, I don’t, and won’t, place my visual needs upon the shoulders of my five-year old. She is just a child, and I want her to enjoy being one.
9. Is your daughter embarrassed by you due to your blindness?
Not yet! Hahaha! It’s possible that during her teenage years when thinking your mother is cool is akin to social suicide, she may be embarrassed by it, but right now, no. She’s actually quite proud of it. She tells all her friends, loves showing off my cane and how I use it (despite my countless reprimands not to play with it, of course) and to her, it is just normal.
She knows my eyes don’t work like the eyes of most other mommies do. She knows I’m different, and in her youthful innocence, acceptance and understanding, she embraces me for it. It’s a beautiful, touching and humbling experience, and I love her even more for her simple pride in my uniqueness.
8. How do you know if your daughter needs a bath if you can’t see whether she’s dirty?
Rosie has designated bath days during the week. She bathes every other day unless she’s gotten sweaty during an extracurricular activity or from merely running around at school. She’s five, so if she’s been playing extra hard, she doesn’t smell like her namesake flower. I can also feel the dirt on her skin if she has embarked upon an adventure through a mud puddle on the playground. Alas, gone are the days of sweet scented, impervious-to-dirt baby skin!
7. How do you pick out your daughter’s clothes if you can’t see them?
I’ll do a Youtube video and a podcast on this specific topic when those are up and running, but in short, I’ve invented my own system because most of the typical methods blindies use weren’t detailed enough for me. Using plastic braille paper, I braille out clothing tags with the color of the clothing article, the design and any distinguishing, interesting or pertinent information about the piece I want to make note of on it. I then use a single hole punch to poke a hole into the edge of the paper after cutting it to size and use a safety pin to affix the tag to the top, dress or bottom that needs the description.
I have had tags rip in the wash, so if I’m able, depending on the garment, I’ll fold the tag over before cutting it to size in order to make it more durable. I also try not to overload the machine, and when I dry her clothes, I don’t dry on high heat or I am pretty sure relentless exposure to it would melt the plastic paper. I have used polycarbonate (I think they were) x-ray film sheets in the past, but they were given to me by a rehabilitation instructor and are way too expensive for me to purchase on my own.
It’s not a perfect system, but it works, so I’ll keep it! In the past, I have used braille color tags on Rose’s clothing, but I found that not only did I tend to run out of tags too often, but I wanted to know more about the article of clothing than just its color.
And, of course, if I lose tags in the wash, there is always Be My Eyes or Aira for identifying the article, so I know which one it is. I can then consult the document on my computer for the tag information I wrote up for it and re-braille said tag. Some articles I can identify by feel as well.
6. How did you change your daughter’s diapers when she was a baby if you couldn’t see what you were doing?
Changing a diaper as a blind parent really isn’t all that difficult. Pee was simpler than poop, obviously, so I’ll just focus on poop. Yay! Everyone’s favorite topic!
It was always easy to tell when Rosie pooped, even before she was eating solid foods. For those who don’t know, breast milk baby poop doesn’t stink nearly as much as baby food poop does. I’ve heard formula poop isn’t all that pleasant, but Rosie drank formula sparingly, so I couldn’t tell you one way or the other.
Anyway, the reason I tell you that is because I didn’t just smell it and go, “Oh, Rosie needs a diaper change.” The diaper got heavy, and it got squishy. Pee diapers will do that too, but not in the same area.
Once she was on the changing table, I would open the diaper and lift Rosie out of it by locking my hand around her ankles as I had been taught and gently maneuvering her. I would have a baby wipe all ready, and I would start in the center, wiping all the poop and pee from that area first before swiftly swapping out the old diaper for the new. That way, any yuck that may have dripped (sorry guys, I know this is gross) would land in the old diaper and not the new one.
Once the old diaper was out of the way, I’d take a new wipe and methodically clean each cheek, then I would feel with my fingers over her bottom to ensure everything was clean. I know to some that’ll seem gross, but she’s my child. It wasn’t a big deal for me. That’s why they invented hand soap. (Okay, so it’s probably not, but you catch my drift.)
So, yeah! That’s how I did it. A lot of it was having a wiping method coupled with just feeling around and ensuring all the pertinent areas were clean to avoid rash and infection. Now, she did still get the occasional diaper rash, but guys, all babies do. I was told by her pediatrician at the time that he saw more rashes on the babies of sighted parents, so, thumbs up to the thoroughness of blindies needing to touch everything. It works.
5. How do you feed your daughter if you can’t see?
Rosie’s five now, so I don’t have to feed her all that often. If she’s being picky and clingy and I need to spoon the last few forkfuls into her mouth, I use the same method I used when she was eating baby food.
I sit in a chair perpendicular to her. After washing my hands thoroughly, I hold the fork or spoon at its base. (This wasn’t necessary when she was an infant, as her spoon was a lot smaller then.) Holding the utensil by the base of the stem gives me more control and ensures I don’t poke her in the eye with the thing.
After loading food onto the fork or spoon (which is simple to do by feeling about with the fork or spoon itself or by using a second utensil on nearly empty plates), I reach for Rosie’s face and find her cheek and jaw with my fingers. Keeping my hand there, I use those reference points to know which way she’s looking and where I need to guide the utensil. It’s very simple.
4. How do you help your daughter with homework if it’s not written in those bumpy dots?
Those bumpy dots are called braille, my Treasures.
I use Aira for this task on the days when Rosie gets homework. A lot of her current homework is merely reading a book her teacher sends home. She memorizes most of these books, but if she finds herself stumped on a word, I have her read me the letters and we sound it out together. She always points to the words as she reads them, so if I am using Aira (though I tend not to for these assignments), they can easily follow along. For words involving color coded word cutouts, Aira is a godsend.
There are days when her father helps her. I never ask him to, but sometimes he just seems to enjoy it. (I’m sure he also does it to assist me if the task is overtly visual, but we don’t see him every day, so that isn’t a failsafe I rely on.)
If Aira ever moves beyond needing us blindies once it’s no longer a startup and becomes a huge moneymaker (many blindness aimed services sadly succumb to this), I will rely more heavily on what I already do with Rosie’s teacher, which is to inquire after the homework assignment for that day. This isn’t entirely necessary right now, but as the homework becomes more and more complicated, communication with teachers is going to become more and more crucial. I do believe Rose is going to receive a ChromeBook next year though, so it’s possible that by the time homework becomes too complicated for communication alone to handle, I’ll be able to use ChromeVox to read the assignments for myself.
3. Can you take your daughter to the park if you can’t see what she’s doing?
I can! As a toddler, it was easy because I was with her every step of the way. Now that she’s older and more independent, I had to come up with another method that wouldn’t embarrass her or treat her like a trained puppy in the way using a whistle to keep in contact with her might.
We use walkie talkies. I have one and Rosie has one. We keep them on the same channel, and while we’re at the park, I periodically check in on her through the walkie. Her walkie talkie is one of the objects she loves most in the world, so I’ve never had an issue with her responding when I request a check in. I will periodically ask her to come give me a hug just so I know she’s still close by, and at times I will use Aira to check in on her as well. And to snap pictures of her because I am obsessed with Aira-taken photos, but that right there deserves a post all its own.
2. How do you take care of your daughter if she falls and gets hurt?
This doesn’t happen as much as you might think. Honestly, I’m surprised at how much Rose just doesn’t skin her knees. She’s still young though, and it’s likely to become more of an issue once she begins riding a bike more regularly.
I would use Aira in this instance for visual feedback, but for a skinned knee, the key is meticulously washed hands, calm and gentle speech and softly feeling my way through the task. The first step of this is to find the edges of the wound in order to gage its size.
If there’s blood, the next step is to stem that flow. I use gauze pads for that, as I think they’re gentler on a wound than paper towels. I’ve never had to deal with a this-needs-stitches deep wound, but I think the process would be a whole lot different if the blood just refused to stop. You know, something along the lines of: step 1. Panic inwardly. Step 2. Rush Rose to urgent care. Step 3: Panic inwardly.
All right, so, once the tide of blood has been stemmed, the next step for me is to flush the wound. Because I can’t see whether dirt, gravel, sand, etc. has settled into it, it’s important to me to ensure that if it has, it’s been removed. If the wound is on her knee, I’ll have Rosie sit on the edge of the bathtub with her feet in said tub. I’ll then take a squeeze bottle of warm water and gently empty it, squeeze by squeeze, over and around the wound several times. I probably overdue it, but I’d rather be thorough than sorry. After this part, of course, more gauze comes out to gently dab the area dry.
Next is to disinfect the wound. No child likes this, because it often involves a chemical that stings, be it hydrogen peroxide or, in extreme cases of please-don’t-hate-me, alcohol pads. (Hey, I had to use an alcohol pad on my finger a few weeks ago and I hated me! That stuff hurts!)
Once the wound has been stemmed, flushed and disinfected, it’s time for every child’s favorite part, the plaster! Rosie’s older now, so she likes to put her plasters on herself, but were she younger, I’d be able to do it myself simply because I’d have just spent five minutes working within the immediate vicinity of the wound, so I’d know exactly where it was.
That’s how I do it. Ask me how I’d handle a broken bone, and I can honestly say I would probably just panic inwardly and rush her to urgent care. And cry. I know there are ways to temporarily set broken bones with makeshift splints, but as of the writing of this post, I have no idea how to do that and I’d never use a broken limb as a guinea pig.
1. Did the hospital call Child Protective Services on you when you had your daughter?
No. I was so lucky. I know this happens to many blind parents, but I had a beautiful birth experience. I visited the hospital beforehand, introduced myself, chatted with the nurses, doctors, even the midwives and let them see me as a person first. My entire team was gunning for my success from the start. I know they watched me to ensure I could competently care for Rosie, but I’d done so much research, it was all a breeze, honestly. I adored them, and in turn, they touched my heart by letting me know how well I was doing. It was a frightening time, and having their support, their reassurance and their praise meant the world to me and really boosted my confidence as a new mother.
So, there you have it, my Treasures! The top ten questions I always receive as a blind parent. There are loads more I don’t always get, and I’ll probably do another post on it one day, but these are query guarantees whenever someone discovers I’m a mother. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and that it teaches you something about how blind parents kick tush!
Remember, if you have any questions for me or if you’d like to see me write about something, don’t hesitate to contact me through this site’s contact form, by emailing me at SirenaRayLind@gmail.com or by Tweeting to me with the hashtag #TalkAboutItRena.
I’ve also signed up with Bloglovin, because the more readers I have, the more people I can reach, educate and help. As you know, that’s so much of what this journey is about for me, so if you’d like to support me there as well, I would definitely not say no!
Until next time, my Treasures, I bid you a fond adieu!
I purchase my plastic braille paper from Future Aids. I’m not affiliated with them, nor am I being paid to promote them. I just like them. Their turn around time after an order is placed and their shipping time can oft times leave something to be desired, but they are in Canada and I’m in the US, so I know that, coupled with the fact that they ship free matter for the blind, is what adds to the arrival time. Still, you should all totally check them out, because they are great, they have awesome products and their prices are cheaper than anywhere else I’ve shopped.