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Couple embracing joys of parenting

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on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 13:08
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William wiggles his little arms and legs, smiling up at the moving musical mobile above his crib.
His parents, Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton, savour these joys of parenthood, joys very nearly taken away from them.
In May, the Mississauga couple almost lost their newborn to the Peel Children’s Aid Society because they both have a disability.
Wilton, 28, and Palisoc, 34, both have cerebral palsy, a physical disability affecting their movement and motor skills. Their disability is also marked by slurred speech but has no impact on their mental capacities.
“They told us we might not even bring the baby home,” Palisoc said, recalling the harrowing three months of indecision prior to William’s birth on April 13 at Mount Sinai Hospital.
The Peel CAS was concerned the couple couldn’t properly care for their child. The agency finally dropped the case three weeks after he was born when the couple showed otherwise.
With the help of occupational therapists, they have found ways to do the usual things new parents do, such as changing diapers and breastfeeding. And, like any parents, they coo at their baby’s every smile. Pictures of William adorn their walls.
Both parents can walk, but Wilton uses an electric wheelchair to get around. He doesn’t stand up while holding the baby.
When William is hungry, his mother straps a blue breastfeeding support pillow around her waist and gets him from his crib.
Now almost 3 months old, he excitedly latches onto her breast.
Either parent can change William’s diapers.
Sometimes they need additional support — to bathe William, for instance. Their apartment, in an assisted-living building in Mississauga, provides 24-hour access to staff who come by every two hours to check on them and the baby.
Parenting comes naturally for them, they say. Palisoc fusses over the thermostat, adjusting it frequently, making sure her baby’s not too hot, not too cold. Wilton is already advertising that his son’s “a daddy’s boy.” They debate whose eyes he has, whose nose and mouth.
When Palisoc and Wilton met 14 years ago at Erinoak, an out-patient rehabilitation centre for youth with disabilities, they were both dating other people. They became friends until five years ago, when they met up again and fell in love.
“We want what everybody wants, a family,” said Palisoc. Their wedding is planned for June 2013.
Palisoc says they really became a family at 7:22 p.m. on April 13 when their healthy seven-pound son was born.
“We are so much happier,” says Wilton. “William brought us, our relationship, closer together.”
When they step outside their home, it’s clear not everybody understands their choices.
“Everybody stares at us like we’re doing something wrong,” said Palisoc. They expected it, and don’t really mind, although they might when William gets older.
The couple shrugs off concerns about how they will care for William when he starts to crawl, when he gets bigger.
Wilton, a retired Paralympian for Canada, says he's used to taking on challenges. He holds three world track records.
“I don’t believe in the word impossible. That’s not in my vocabulary,” he said.
“We are typical, normal parents. We worry about the same things. Whatever happens, happens. We will deal with it then,” he said.
Wilton is considering writing a book about their experience, and Palisoc, who is now on maternity leave from her job as an AMC theatre usher, wants to go back to school to study early childhood education.
“But I don’t know if I can leave William,” she said, smiling at her baby. “I’m a mom.”