How Nas Campanella's TV debut helped her think about motherhood – Ausnew Home Care

How Nas Campanella's TV debut helped her think about motherhood

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Thousands of people were watching when I played a pregnant woman who was blind on the Channel 10 show Offspring in 2016. 

I'd never acted before. The filming was intense, but the crew took care to coach me through everything. I admit it all felt hilarious and my family told me it was a very bad attempt at birthing.

When the baby was placed on my chest, it was confirmed the child wasn't blind like her mum.

There I was, playing a mother, elated her daughter wasn't born with the same disability as her.

On the way home I felt overwhelmed. I kept thinking that could be me one day.

Now it is. I'm six months pregnant.

Nas and Tom walk through a rose garden together, both Nas and Tom are smiling and laughing. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
Nas Campanella and her husband Tom are preparing to navigate parenthood together.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

Until my acting debut I'd never considered the real prospect of my own offspring inheriting either of my disabilities. No-one could have predicted I'd feel anything after that experience, but I felt conflicted.

Both my neurological condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth — which affects muscle strength and nerve sensitivity — and my blindness are genetic.

On the one hand, I was disappointed that the happy storyline was the focus on the baby not being disabled. I am a proud disabled woman.

I also felt worried at the thought of my own child being born with disability. I was conflicted. And that made me feel guilty.

Hard work — but worth it

Most conversations around pregnancy turn to whether the parents-to-be are going to find out their baby's gender. If someone says no, the immediate response is usually "Oh it doesn't matter, so long as the baby is healthy".

But what if they aren't? It's ingrained in many people to feel that any baby less than perfectly healthy is bad.

And there I was, against my better judgement, worried about those same prospects. I'm the last person who fears disability. Thirty-three years of lived experience means I know more than most about it and where to get support.

Nas rests one hand on her baby bump and holds a cane with the other, while standing in front of a colourful garden.
Nas has always found unique ways to navigate the world, and parenting will be no different.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

I realised I was worried about how my child with disability would navigate the world, one that at times had tested me and so many others with disability. The world isn't always inclusive or kind to us.

Would my disabilities prevent me from being a good mum? Would it be too much pressure for my husband who would need to provide more support than usual? Would my child miss out because I couldn't read to them or teach them numbers or the alphabet the same way other parents could? Would I physically be able to manage all that parenting required given the lack of strength in my arms?

If my child was born with disability, would I be strong enough to help them navigate the world one negative comment or inaccessible building at a time?

In the years following my Offspring appearance, I've had many conversations with lots of parents with disability.

They've told me about the negative comments from strangers and overcoming parent guilt. They showed me the equipment they used and how they figured out ways to supervise their kids at the park.

They didn't sugar-coat anything. They said it was hard work. But they also said it was worth it.

In talking to both mums with and without disability, I realised that parenting isn't easy for anyone.

I decided it was an experience I deserved. And if my child had disabilities then my lived experience meant I'd be the best mum for them.

Finding unique ways to navigate parenting

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant I swung into action, getting an occupational therapist to help choose equipment so I can be independent and the baby will be safe. A talking thermometer will help me check their temperature, squeaky shoes will let me know where they are, and their clothes will be carefully arranged so I know what they're wearing.

Two years ago, I started training with an exercise physiologist to build up the strength in my arms so I'll be able to hold my baby without getting tired. We're also working on maintaining my balance so I'm less prone to falls as my bump grows.

Nas and Tom walking together across a lawn in front of a lake surrounded by trees, Tom is looking at Nas while she speaks.
Getting ready for parenting has involved a lot of planning and preparation.(ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

There are things I won't be able to do. Sometimes those realities make me a little sad. I'll never see my baby smile or be able to take photos of their milestones. And going up the road for a coffee independently using a pram is tricky when you also need a cane.

My husband and I will navigate those things the way we do everything in life: together. I've always found unique ways to navigate the world and parenting will be no different.

Even with all the planning, I know nothing will truly prepare me for motherhood. What I do know is whatever my baby is born with or without, I'll be their biggest advocate. My lived experience of disability will be an asset. Not a liability.

They'll grow up accepting people for who they are and learning to navigate the world their own way.

There are no fake birth scenes and certainly no acting this time, my precious bump. I can't wait to meet you and to conquer this next chapter together, one step at a time.


Source: ABC

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