Jane Holmes: A disabled child can put strain on a relationship, but don't worry about the "creeps".By Jane Holmes
September 19, 2012
Jane Holmes is chief executive of Wokingham-based charity Building for the Future which provides support and activities for disabled children.
She set up the charity after her daughter Kitty was born with severe cerebral palsy.
A lot of us know how it feels to have a small baby. The round-the-clock care, the sleepless nights and the inability to do anything, really, but focus on the child. It's a lovely but exhausting time and everything else takes a back seat - it has to.
That is what it's like having a severely disabled child. The physical care actually increases over time and the lack of sleep becomes a permanent fixture. Don't get me wrong, the loveliness is still very much present, but nobody expects to be changing nappies and preparing feeds for a teenager.
The other thing, of course, is the effect it has on the relationship with your other half. Not being able to spend quality time together really weakens any partnership and it comes as no surprise that the divorce statistics for couples with disabled children is double that of any other.
I feel very lucky every day to be married to an amazing man, who is really hands-on. He actually wants to share the childcare down the middle and for some strange reason really seems to love me. But it has not been easy and there have been one or two bad times from which I did not think we would ever recover.
And many couples haven't stayed together. They may not have anyway, even without the pressures of raising a disabled child, but to pretend it doesn't add huge pressure to any relationship is just deluded. Add in a couple of other factors perhaps, joblessness, illness or financial worries, for example, and the balance can be tipped much more easily. There are far fewer straws needed to break the camels back. It's not easy for any of us, but some of us have been blessed with luckier circumstances.
Friends, too, come and go. My daughter was once accurately described as a 'creep detector'. In life there are always wimps who do us a favour by exiting our lives, too pathetic to explain why. But pure gratitude goes to those who evaporate from our lives because they can't handle our child's disability.
They're the real creeps.