Three years into a marriage that had no blessings of both parents, Lydia Waithera separated from her husband. She talks to Milliam Murigi on their young union, raising a child with cerebral palsy and moving on in life
When Lydia Waithera decided to settle down with her better half in 2012, all she wanted was to have a happy family despite coming from different tribes (Kikuyu and Luo).
However, parents from both sides did not bless their union owing to tribal differences, but the two went ahead and started life together. A year later the couple welcomed their first baby, Tamima Milan, who cemented their love.
But nine months down the line, Lydia noticed that her child had delayed milestones. She couldn’t stand, her little hands couldn’t grasp, but the young mother thought that would be treated. “I enquired from different mothers and they assured me that all will be well because children develop differently,” she says. A visit to the doctor, however, revealed the girl had cerebral palsy. “We could not believe it.
We visited different hospitals, but the results were the same. Cerebral palsy was a new condition to us. Nobody in both of our family had the disease,” Lydia notes. Waithera went into depression, quit her job and stopped going for social gatherings.
Her husband became a drunkard. “It was so traumatising. I was living in denial. It reached a point I couldn’t accept I was my baby’s mother and wanted nothing to do with her. I used to leave her at the sitting room with our house girl and lock myself in our bedroom the whole day,” she recalls. But the worst was yet to come. Lydia alleges that her husband started blaming her for the misfortune.
He said that this was a curse from her side of the family. Lydia on the other hand believed that her husband’s family was to blame, as they had never visited the couple since the day they started living together. He started abusing her physically and she would run to her parents’ house. This went on until the couple separated in 2015. All this while, the baby was under medication, but recorded no improvements.
She even sought divine intervention by visiting a prophetess in Nyeri and Prophet Owuor in Nakuru to no avail. “Upon going back to my parents’ house, my in-laws never bothered to look for me. Also my parents didn’t bother to reunite us. They just welcomed me warmly and my marriage of three years ended,” she notes. Lydiah had to accept her daughter’s condition and moved on with her life.
She put her daughter on daily therapy sessions. She even hired a therapist to attend to Tamima at home. The little one is responding positively because she can now grasp stuff with her hands. Lydia plans to take Tamima to a special needs school next year. She is also back to work. Her baby daddy has also started supporting them and he visits them once in a while.
Cerebral palsy is not a curse According to Haron Kimani, a special needs professional and also co-director of Pearls Garden school, cerebral palsy is not a curse as perceived by many, but a disorder that impairs muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way) and is usually caused by brain damage that happens before or during a baby’s birth, or during the first three to five years of a child’s life.
“Among the many disorders that cause severe impairment to motor function in young children, cerebral palsy leads at. Though the disease has no cure, treatment, therapy, surgery, medications and assistive technology can help maximise independence, reduce barriers, increase inclusion and thus lead to an enhanced quality of life,” adds Kimani.
He reveals that several interventions for high-risk infants such as cooling or mild hypothermia, a process that involves slightly lowering the infant’s body temperature and aims to reduce the impact of the brain injury, antenatal steroids, and magnesium sulphate have been introduced to reduce the risk or severity of cerebral palsy.