Paralympic Swimmer Mallory Weggemann Empowers Athletes and Wheelchair Users to Embrace Motherhood
It’s a common misconception that people with disabilities cannot be loving and capable parents. And Weggemann’s journey serves as a powerful example of it and helps to raise awareness and break down barriers for individuals with disabilities who wish to pursue parenthood. The Paralympic swimmer’s message is clear: motherhood and a successful athletic career are not mutually exclusive. Let’s hear her story.
When it comes to motherhood, Mallory Weggemann has strong views.
Prior to her first swim in the national championships, Weggemann, 33, placed a hand on her belly and felt her baby kick. She then saw her husband and parents in the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, and, as she has done many times before in her career with 3 Paralympic Games and 5 medals (including 3 gold ones), she began to race.
“I knew it was less about the race and more about what the race and what doing it would stand for,” Weggemann stated after her morning swim. “Just showcasing what women are capable of and what individuals with disabilities are capable of.”
The couple hasn’t had an easy time getting to this point.
Weggemann, 33, and her husband, Jay Snyder, went through a lengthy IVF journey while managing Snyder’s infertility and Weggemann’s Paralympic swimming career. But they were honest about their difficulties with fans and followers throughout it all. “Jay was adamant that we have the conversation around it,” Weggemann says. “Society needed to see a couple who said, ’Actually, it’s the non-disabled spouse that has the fertility struggles.’”
After multiple surgeries, over 440 injections, 2 stimulation cycles, and a failed transfer, Weggemann and Snyder announced in August that their second egg transfer was successful, and they were expecting a baby in March 2023! Their joy was heightened due to their earlier loss in April when their first transfer failed. The future mom-to-be shared, “We have faced a heartbreak we never knew possible.”
It’s unfortunate that some individuals in society hold negative attitudes toward people with disabilities having children. The 33-week-pregnant mom said she has heard questions like, “What type of mother could you be?” or “Is that fair for your child to have to deal with?” They also say that if she wants to be a mama, she should adopt a kid. However, Weggemann had no plans to act as others expected.
Since then, the gold medalist has been publicly documenting her pregnancy.
Weggemann is using her platform to raise awareness and encourage other female athletes and people with disabilities to see motherhood as a possibility for them as well. She wants to break down societal barriers and prove that being a mother and having a successful career is achievable for everyone. And one mustn’t be sacrificed for another to live.
She embraces all the physical changes that come along with pregnancy.
Weggemann views pregnancy and motherhood as opportunities for growth, both physically and emotionally. In her Instagram post, she left a heartfelt message to everyone by sharing her wish: “Today I celebrate the pride I carry for being a woman with a disability, and I am filled with more purpose than ever before as my husband and I prepare to welcome our first child, one who has no idea their mommy is ’different,’ but only knows my love.”
When talking about her disability, Weggemann clearly states that she sees her condition as a part of her identity, saying, “While not all defining, it is a part of the fabric of her being. My disability is something to be celebrated, not pitied.”
The lovely couple is going to be parents in just a few weeks.
Being a parent with a disability can present unique challenges, and it’s important for families to be prepared for them. Talking about it, the future mommy said that they aren’t just preparing for how to become first-time parents, the couple is also preparing for how they will talk to their child about disabilities.
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