“I went blind in 2016 when I was two months pregnant,” says Stacie. She shares her ex abused her, injuring her neck and head. “I lost my vision — leading to two unsuccessful eye surgeries. I am now blind; I have no light perception.”
Stacie had to learn to deal with her new circumstances quickly. She wore a C-spine neck collar for the first six months of her pregnancy and exercised all the strength she had to deliver a healthy baby girl she named Alana.
“In the beginning, following losing my eyesight, I was depressed. I felt like my life was over. I lost my faith in God. I asked, “How can God be real? I was beaten down and almost died.”
Stacie struggled with her mindset for quite some time. “I was raised by a mother who couldn’t provide as I wished. My ultimate goal was to provide a better life for my child, but I felt like I couldn’t because I couldn’t see.”
“After giving birth, I had a doula who taught me how to care for my child. She helped me want more for myself, too. She helped me want to shower. I told myself, I need to do this for me to do this for my daughter.”
Stacie’s doula was more than a teacher. She was her inspiration — allowing her to see that she needed to value what she had and control what she could.
“She told me I needed to take Alana out more. She told me we both needed to get out and get fresh air.”
Stacie pulled herself up, got herself and her new daughter ready, and they got out of the house. A small step for most felt like a giant leap for Stacie, and it helped. Little by little, all the small steps added up and helped her heal.
While the doula continued helping, Stacie knew she needed additional perspective, which she secured from some dear friends and many emergency phone calls. She also sought support from those who had similar experiences. Seeking services for parents who are blind was extremely difficult for Stacie.
“There are domestic violence support groups readily available, and even groups for parents who have blind children, but not support groups for blind parents.”
Stacie learned of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania (NFB of PA). The organization gave her answers and sustained hope. Stacie learned a great deal from others.
“As I learned about those who were blind, like me, I asked myself: How does a [blind/low vision] child at eight or 12 years old do this? Why can’t I at 27 years old, my age at the time.”
Stacie wondered why there wasn’t a support group for parents who are blind in Pennsylvania. Lynn, a woman at the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania, asked, “Why don’t you start one?”
“I kept saying, “I can’t start one if I have nothing to give.” Lynn told me, ‘There is no such thing as an expert on blindness or parenting.’ So, I started a support group for blind parents in March of 2021.”
The heartfelt advice Stacie gives and receives from the support group has helped her survive and thrive.
“I remember praying for someone to save me in that abusive relationship. I thought it would be another man. It wasn’t. It was my daughter. God answered my prayers by bringing my daughter into my life.” Reflecting on all the things God pushed and pulled her through, Stacie grew in her faith more and more.
Celebrating the Little Moments
Stacie now appreciates and celebrates all the little moments.
“When my daughter turned one, I remember telling myself that I couldn’t see her, but I could hold and smell her. Even when she smelled bad,” laughed Stacie. “I would sometimes get angry and ask why couldn’t I see her smile. I am her mother. But, I will tell you, I feel her smile, which is beautiful!”
“I need to be there for her and show her that disability doesn’t sit in a corner and wait for people to hand her things.”
A simple moment recently stopped Stacie in her tracks — using a sensory board with six-year-old daughter Alana. Alana can draw and write, and Stacie can physically feel Alana’s creations. “Alana said, ‘Mom, I drew you a heart, and I wrote Mom, I love you.’ “I felt it all! How I always imagined it and how she wrote it was different, but it was amazing to feel her handwriting! It made me cry happy tears.”
Stacie has been through many ups and downs throughout her life, but her number one focus is, and always will be, Alana. Stacie modified scrapbooking and kept one of Alana’s dresses each year. When Alana turns 18, Stacie will gift her 18 dresses.
Stacie’s Wish for Alana
Physical scrapbooks and dresses are wonderful mementos, but Stacie’s desire for her daughter is much more significant. She wants Alana to know she doesn’t need to depend on others for happiness.
“I hope my daughter loves herself. I went from relationship to relationship, looking for love. I want her to know she needs to love herself first.”
National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania – Live The Life You Want (nfbofpa.org)
Domestic Violence and Women with Disabilities – ConnectCenter (aphconnectcenter.org)
Crimes Against Persons with Disabilities – ConnectCenter (aphconnectcenter.org)
Support Groups: Their Role in the Adjustment Process – ConnectCenter (aphconnectcenter.org)