Although both Amanda and Quintin Williams have been blind since childhood, they never let it stop them from accomplishing their dreams. They were married in 2009 and now, nearly eight years later, they are adjusting to parenthood.
However, to the new parents, their blindness is “just an afterthought.”
“We just love kids,” said Quintin Williams, 32, who became blind due to a ruptured brain tumor when he was 3 years old. “We have wanted a baby for more than four years. Everything has just lined up, and it’s been a really neat experience.”
Although they couldn’t see their new baby girl, Brailee, when she was born at Davis Hospital in Layton on Oct. 5, Quintin and Amanda Williams immediately fell into their new roles of mother and father.
“We love her, and we take care of her just like anybody else would,” Quintin Williams said. “We just have different methods and we’ve adapted. We have our own alternative techniques.”
A few of the alternative techniques used by the Ogden couple include safety pinning Brailee’s clothes together so the Williamses know which clothes match, measuring her formula by scraping it on the side of the container and using additional wipes when changing her diaper.
“Then with everything else, we’re able to figure it out with our sense of touch. We just do it, so we don’t really think about it,” Quintin Williams said. “Our blindness is really just a minor inconvenience.”
Jessica Steele, one of the nurses who took care of Brailee in the neonatal intensive care unit, said in her 25 years of work, she has never come across a “sweeter situation.”
“Here’s the thing: They’re blind, but they don’t let it get them down,” Steele said. “They don’t let it get in their way. They decide they want a baby and here they are as first-time parents. I have seen first-time dads be so nervous to even hold their baby, and Quintin was like ‘OK, let’s do it,’ and changed her diaper and swaddled her.”
Michele Waldron, another nurse, emphasized what a privilege it was to work with the Williams family.
“The other parents there didn’t even know they were blind,” she said. “(The Williamses) blow my mind. There has never been a second in my heart when I didn’t think you could be 100 percent wonderful parents.”
Although 29-year-old Amanda Williams went blind at 14 years old from an allergic reaction to medication, she said she has always been “a kid lover” and knew she wanted to be a mother. Despite her lack of vision, she nannied two children for seven years.
“Both of our blindness has brought us so many blessings and we’ve met so many amazing people,” Amanda Williams said. “We have learned so much, and we wouldn’t even have each other if we weren’t blind. Being blind is who we are. We have so many amazing people in our life; we pay a driver and we have our own car, and we find ways to make life easier for us.”
Quintin Williams, who teaches technology for the blind, said he only needs to have something explained once or twice to master it. Whether it’s the layout of a building or changing his daughter’s diaper, he makes a mental map to “get from point A to point B.”
“Quintin doesn’t let anything stop him,” Amanda Williams said of her husband. “He was one of six boys growing up. They didn’t just let him sit around and be blind. He rides Ripstiks, he rides skateboards, he rides bikes and he golfs — if he puts his mind to it, he will learn it.”
Steele said that although the Williamses can’t physically see their daughter, they feel her and their other senses “envelop her with love.”
“They know what she looks like because they can feel her, and they can feel her spirit,” Steele said. “And they feel her little cheeks, her skin and her head — it is just so awesome.”
Waldron remembered that because the couple was worried that they would not be able to see if Brailee’s face turned blue from choking, they would listen to and count her breathing patterns.
“That to me was just so amazing because they focus on the sounds she makes,” Waldron said. “I’ve relied on my eyes for all of these years working with these (babies), and they rely on the most important thing: her breathing. It is so not a disability they have — it is this ability that is just so beautiful.”
Both Amanda and Quintin Williams said they have had nothing but “excellent and wonderful experiences” as parents and are amazed at the “total faith” everyone has had in them. They believe that “if you surround yourself with the right people, you can have children, you can have the job of your dreams and you can accomplish your goals.”
“I think that blind people should do anything that they have the means to do and the desire to do, within appropriate limits,” Quintin Williams said. “I don’t want the focus to be on our blindness as much as I want it to be on how we are able to do something and set our mind and achieve it.”