The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Parenting with a Chronic Illness

Replica of the New York City skyline at Legola...
Legoland Wikipedia

Parenting and illness is a hot topic—especially among women. There are so many questions:

  • Should I have a child? Can my body handle a safe pregnancy?
  • When? How long should we try?
  • Will the child have my illness? What are the odds?
  • Can I take my medications while pregnant?
  • Should I adopt? Will anyone give me a child with my illness?
  • Can I do it? What if I find out I can’t?
  • What if my spouse doesn’t help enough?
  • What if I decide not to parent?
  • How do I explain my decision to people? How much do I say?

And I am getting more and more emails from grandparents, especially grandmas, who have a chronic illness and yet are still expected to be a full-time caregiver while their son or daughter works. (We have an article in the current issue of HopeKeepers Magazine about grand-parenting when you are chronically ill.)

  • How can I raise my grandchildren? Where do I get the energy?
  • What if I can’t do it? How do I say no?
  • How do I explain I want to but my body won’t let me?
  • How can my child work and earn money for the family if I don’t provide free child care?

As many of you know I am the mom of a 6-year-old son. (He’d say “six and a half.”) My husband and I adopted Joshua at birth and he’s the little spark and twinkle in my life that keeps me going. But yes, being a mom is hard.

School got out for the summer Thursday. Friday I realized just how much energy he really does have after spending a full day with him. Saturday I awoke with a really bad flare. We’d planned to go to Legoland to celebrate “out of school!” and because it was “Star Wars” weekend.

Josh said, “Let’s wait until tomorrow to go because we want Mommy to go, right, Dad?” Ah. . .what an amazing kid!

Only. . .Sunday (today) rolled around and I was flaring even worse, this time with my knee out of place all night despite extra medication and thermal wraps.  Hands still like claws. Josh was okay with just going with his dad and they got home an hour ago. It was a special time.

I went to the grocery store for a few necessities and did some stuff around the house. My parents arrive next week and we’ll all go to Legoland then, (we have summer passes) so I told myself it was no big deal. These moments will come when you are parenting with a chronic illness.

I have some blog posts coming about parenting with an illness. I am also working on a moms with illness Christian book. I see all of this as a need. At the same time, I want to be sensitive to those of you who read this who do not have children, those of you who have perhaps lost a child (either in heaven, or maybe to an ex-spouse.) And I know many of you made a decision not to parent (some because of your illness) and though you are okay with that choice, you may still grieve it.

I am always open to hearing your feedback and your stories. There are more of you than you realize. But because I haven’t had that experience I am unable to write about it as one of my personal daily events in the world of blogging. I did write an article in the past called When You Have an Illness and Decide Not to Parent

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on it over the years. So if you are not a parent, please know I have no plans to turn this into a mommy blog.

If you are a parent, know that I have heard your pleas of “how can I survive the summer?” and I will be sharing my own successes and struggles with you and hope you will share too so we can all make it a wonderful summer together!

I guess that’s all I wanted to say. (Smile)

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1 Comment»

  Jasmine wrote @

This is an extremely hot topic for me. For years I put the thought of having children out of my mind because I was on a mission to get better. When I had to accept the fact that my pain may never go away, my husband and I decided to stop putting life on hold. Unfortunately, at age 35/36 we’re having difficulties getting pregnant.


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