Disabled couple embraces joy of parenting
William wiggles his little arms and legs, smiling up at the moving musical mobile above his crib.
His parents, Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton, savour these joys of parenthood, joys very nearly taken away from them.
In May, they almost lost their newborn to the Peel Children’s Aid Society because they both have a disability.
Wilton, 28, and Palisoc, 34, both have cerebral palsy, a physical disability affecting their movement and motor skills. Their disability is also marked by slurred speech but has no impact on their mental capacities.
“They told us we might not even bring the baby home,” Palisoc recalls of the harrowing three months of indecision prior to William’s birth on April 13 at Mount Sinai Hospital.
The Peel CAS was concerned they couldn’t properly care for their child. The agency finally dropped the case three weeks after he was born when the couple showed otherwise.
With the help of occupational therapists, they have found ways to do the usual things new parents do, such as changing diapers and breastfeeding. And, like any parents, they coo at their baby’s every smile. Pictures of William adorn their walls.
Both parents can walk, but Wilton has an electric wheelchair to help him get around. He doesn’t stand up while holding the baby. When he wants to bring William to his mother’s arms, he sits in a wheeled desk chair at the edge of the crib, picks up his son and wheels himself over to Palisoc.
Though she can’t jump up each time William whimpers in his crib, Palisoc recognizes each cry. When he wails his hunger cry, she straps a blue breastfeeding support pillow around her waist and gets William from his crib.
Now almost three months old, he excitedly latches onto her breast.
Either parent can change William’s diapers. If Wilton needs help, Palisoc stands behind him, arms outstretched, ready to lend a hand. Parenting, they say, is about teamwork.
Sometimes they need additional support — to bathe William, for instance. Their apartment, in an assisted-living building in Mississauga, provides 24-hour access to staff who come by every two hours to check on them and the baby.
Parenting comes naturally for them, they say. Palisoc fusses over the thermostat, adjusting it frequently, making sure her baby’s not too hot, not too cold. Wilton is already advertising that his son’s “a daddy’s boy” who stops crying the moment he is in his arms. They debate whose eyes he has, whose nose and mouth.
When Palisoc and Wilton met 14 years ago atErinoak, an out-patient rehabilitation centre for youth with disabilities, they were both dating other people, so they just became friends. Five years ago, they met up again and fell in love.
Wilton proposed to Palisoc twice.
“ ‘Do you think other people are as happy as we are?’ ” Palisoc remembers him asking her last year at the Victoria Day fireworks.
He asked her to marry him. She said yes.
The next day he asked her again at their favourite restaurant over a fancy dinner, having coordinated with the staff a romantic delivery of her diamond ring, nestled between flowers on a platter.
She said yes, again.
“We want what everybody wants, a family,” says Palisoc, who already calls Wilton her husband. Their wedding is planned for June 2013.
Palisoc says they really became a family at 7:22 p.m. on April 13 when their healthy 7-lb. son was born by Caesarean section. William was conceived the traditional way.
“We are so much happier,” says Wilton. “William brought us, our relationship, closer together.”
When they step outside their home, it’s clear not everybody understands their choices.
“Everybody stares at us like we’re doing something wrong,” says Palisoc. They expected it, and don’t really mind, although she says they might when William gets older.
The couple shrugs off concerns about how they will care for William when he starts to crawl, when he gets bigger.
Wilton, a retired Paralympian for Canada, says he is used to taking on challenges — he holds three world track records.
“I don’t believe in the word impossible … That’s not in my vocabulary,” he says firmly.
“We are typical, normal parents. We worry about the same things. Whatever happens, happens. We will deal with it then,” he says.
The couple says if anything, having cerebral palsy will make them better parents. Palisoc remembers all too well her loving but overprotective parents. Wilton lived with six different foster families, so says he knows the importance of a good home. It’s why he will mostly be a stay-at-home dad. William will have regular contact with people with regular speech, such as his grandparents, but they are proud he will be able to understand other ways of speaking, like theirs.
They say there is much to look forward to. For one, they’re thinking of having another child, to give William a sibling.
Wilton is considering writing a book about their experience, and Palisoc, who is now on maternity leave from her job as an AMC theatre usher, would like to go back to school to study early childhood education.
“But I don’t know if I can leave William,” she says, smiling at her baby. “I’m a mom.”
via http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1223769—disabled-couple-embraces-joy-of-parenting (CLICK LINK FOR VIDEO)
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