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Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Voices Blog

Sherry Dai: On Motherhood, Family and Disability

Woman with her two young children; daughter and son

There are many titles that Sherry Dai has in life. Among them are daughter, wife, University of Toronto graduate and mother of two. Sherry has a keen interest in political science and the humanities and loves crafts and baking – especially tarts, which happen to be an all time favourite for her kids.  

Shortly after moving to Canada, Sherry had a skiing accident that led to a spinal cord injury. Still in high school at the time, she spent some time at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital before becoming an outpatient and going back to high school. She went on to pursue university and in 2016, married her husband, whom she’s known since high school. “We met back in high school, but we didn’t start dating until after my injury,” she shares.  

When it came to creating a family, Sherry explains that for her, it was a regular part of life that she was keen on having. “Getting married and having kids struck me as necessary in life back then,” she shares. “It was how our family functioned, so I wanted the same and I decided to do it young, while I still had a lot of energy.” 

Although Sherry’s pregnancy came naturally, she shares that there is definitely stigma attached to motherhood and disability. “I remember speaking about my disability and pregnancy to a gynecologist and there was a change in their expression,” she says, “But their opinion didn’t impact my decision making because I knew I could handle being a mother. It is my right to decide if I want a baby or not.”

Sherry also shares that though there are many similarities between a regular pregnancy and one with an SCI, there are slight differences as well. “My level of injury is T5-T7 so I can’t feel everything for instance,” she shares, “But there were benefits too. I’m already sitting, so there was no risk of major falls, except when I was transferring.” She recounts that taking care of her heavier body didn’t come without a few extra challenges, making everyday tasks like showering more tricky, but that pain-wise, she relied on fewer medications. “I can’t feel everything, so I wasn’t in that much pain,” she smiles.  

After a successful first pregnancy and a beautiful daughter, it wasn’t long before Sherry decided to have her second. “I was an only child,” she says, “And it was important for me to have at least two.” With a supportive medical team, family and friends, she soon had her second baby – a son. 

Following pregnancy, Sherry adjusted to motherhood and figured out adaptive ways to care for her children. “I couldn’t use a regular crib, but there were adaptive ones. And I couldn’t push a stroller myself, but I put my kids on my lap and used a baby carrier to get them around from place to place.
I found ways to make things work,” shares Sherry.  

Today, her kids are five and three years old, bringing Sherry plenty of joy with their playful and curious nature. “I love playing with them and seeing them interact with my wheelchair. They see it as part of my body and will often tap my wheel to get my attention,” she laughs, “I have to tell them I can’t feel that.” A happy memory for Sherry is watching the kids sit on her footplate when they were younger and grabbing the frame as they used it as a merry go round.  

For Sherry, motherhood is about teaching her children as much as possible. Today, she and her husband are exploring extra-curriculars for the kids hoping they will discover their interests. She has also taken on teaching her daughter how to play the piano.  

“There are still things that are hard sometimes,” says Sherry, “I had to stay overnight with my son at Sick Kids once and it was difficult to navigate small spaces in a wheelchair. I do sometimes wish I was able to do more with them, but when I need help, I ask for it, because everybody needs it sometimes and we can’t do it alone.”  

Sherry hopes that when the time comes, her children will be able to attend the same high school that she and her husband went to. “Our photos are on the wall, and how cool would it be for them to see that?” 

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