Like many moms, Rachelle Chapman has been happily watching her 1-year-old daughter learn how to walk. What makes this different, however, is Chapman’s daughter is learning how to walk using her mom’s wheelchair. The North Carolina mom has largely been known as “the paralyzed bride” after falling into a pool at her bachelorette party.
A few years after marrying her husband, Chris, she decided she wanted to start a family. But because of her blood pressure medication that she has had to take since her accident, Chapman is unable to sustain a pregnancy. Eventually, they found a surrogate. Today, the couple’s daughter, Kaylee, turns 1. Kaylee has been practicing learning how to walk using her mom’s wheelchair–Chapman stated:
“She got a lot of practice holding on to the back of my chair. She would pull up and hold on to the wheel, and then walk to the back and hold on to the bar in the back. My wheelchair was good practice for her. She would basically push my wheelchair. It was so cool she learned how to do that.”
Besides that, Kaylee also has learned to use her special wheelchair-accessible crib to her advantage, as she can now crawl out of it backwards. Chapman describes how her daughter’s newfound mobility has been a good change for her:
“It’s really hard to just to pick her up and pull her towards me, so this tactic works. And she figured it out on her own. Knowing that I can’t reach out and pick her up like everyone else, she just crawled onto my lap on her own.”
Chapman also told TODAY how she wants to raise awareness for parents with disabilities–because she still faces criticism from people who say she’s selfish for having a child:
“I want people to realize, yeah, even though my fingers don’t work, I have found a way to manipulate my hands to do a lot of things. I can hold Kaylee. I can feed Kaylee and I can play with her while Chris is washing bottles or whatever. We have a system that works for us.
And beyond love, Kaylee has a house over her head and food in her tummy. She’s a happy, happy baby who doesn’t realize that I’m different. This is normal for her.”
Unfortunately, while Chapman would love to her expand her family, because of the expensive surrogacy costs, Chapman said it’s unlikely she will have more children.
Along with becoming a mom last year, Chapman learned how to drive a wheelchair-adapted van, which has given her great flexibility and freedom, especially when it comes to driving Kaylee around in the future. She stated:
“Eventually, I want to be able to take Kaylee to dance class or tennis lessons and not have to rely on somebody else to do that. Once she can get in and out of her car seat on her own, or old enough not to need one at all, I’ll be able to do that.”
We’re glad technology is becoming progressively better every day so parents like Chapman can enjoy the little moments with her daughter even more.