Tough journey to motherhood for amputee
“Do what you can, do what works for you and don’t compare yourself too much with what other mums are showing on social media,” Waikato mother of two and amputee Naomi Carter advises other mums.
Becoming a mum has not been an easy journey for Waikato amputee, peer support volunteer and mother of two, Naomi Carter.
In 2017 Naomi was in an accident when a distracted driver mounted the grass verge she was standing on and hit her with his car, leaving her in a critical condition. The physiotherapist – who loved participating in outdoor activities – received multiple serious fractures and injuries throughout her body, including a head injury, leaving her in a coma for 10 days and intensive care for three weeks. In addition to many other serious injuries, Naomi’s left leg had compound fractures throughout, her knee was shattered and the back of her leg degloved – the fat and skin ripped off, leaving just muscle. Five months after the accident and following a series of bone infections, she elected to have her leg amputated below the knee.
Since then, Naomi has had many further surgeries (25 in total) to deal with the ongoing effects of the accident, including grafts from her thighs and stomach to repair the degloving of her leg.
At the time of her accident, Naomi was six months into a new relationship with Richard. Richard stayed by her side and marriage followed. After a couple of years Naomi and Richard decided they wanted to start a family but were told they would need help to have children. They began the process of IVF but before starting their first round Naomi conceived naturally. To add further stress to pregnancy, tests indicated possible problems with the baby’s development, putting the baby at high risk of many issues and termination was recommended. They chose not to have the termination and fortunately Hope was born happy and healthy. Their second daughter, Bonnie was born 15 months later.
Because of ongoing issues and pain resulting from the accident, Naomi cannot wear her prosthetic as much as she would like. Additionally, Naomi suffers from fatigue because of the head injury. Both these things have affected parenting Hope (2 ½ years old) and Bonnie (15 months old).
Night times are hard enough for new mums but getting up in the middle of the night to feed, change and comfort crying babies was made more difficult for Naomi as she would have to put her prosthetic on before tending to the children. Initially she kept her new-borns close beside the bed so she was able to reach them easily. Luckily Richard was a very hands on Dad and was always ready to help.
Due to her inability to stand for long periods of time, Naomi was unable to rock and bounce her babies to comfort them so either Richard stepped in, or she sat in a rocking chair to comfort them. Fatigue from the head injury was compounded by the normal lack of sleep all new parents suffer from and her ongoing pain. But she rested whenever she could.
Naomi gets frustrated that she cannot physically do all the things she would like to with her children. However, she says Hope and Bonnie have never known any different and don’t understand the fuss when other children are intrigued by their Mum’s leg. Hope even brings Naomi her prosthetic when she wants something when Mum doesn’t have her leg on.
Naomi says having the support of friends who had children at the same time as her and belonging to a local mum’s group all helped her on her parenting journey. She says it is important that all mothers look after their own mental health and she finds swimming for a couple hours every week ‘resets’ her and provides some time for herself. Naomi urges other mums to look after themselves so they can be the best mum possible to their children.