I am a mother of two special needs kids, this is what they have taught me

MY STORY PIC 2 (1)

Faith Wambui talks about raising two disabled children. PHOTO| POOL

What you need to know:

  • It's when I visited the government dispensary for immunization that I learnt that my baby had an issue.

  • Having a good support system for parents with such kids helps a lot. My husband has been a great support. He is a true friend to our children.

  • Parents to children that are abled-differently should show love, provide, educate, and do the best they can for them. This helps the kids to accept themselves and know that they are important.

"I am a mother of three with two of them abled differently. My second-born has cerebral palsy while my third born is autistic.

Raising them has molded me to be a fighter. I have learnt that integrity and humility are key in life and despite the challenges, I cannot trade my different abled children for anything.

It's been such a journey. I got married to my husband Patrick, in August 2007. We planned on having three children together and, had our firstborn girl, Hope Wanjiku the next year.

When Hope was three, we decided to get a second born and I conceived soon after. My due date was delayed by two weeks but still, I had no signs of labour. I went to the hospital and got admitted for induction which was done after three days. I had protracted labour and finally gave birth to a baby boy, John. He did not cry at all. I heard nurses blaming each other on my delivery bed and I realised something was amiss. They resuscitated the baby and brought him to me although he had difficulties in breastfeeding. The following morning, we got discharged.


Problems started

It's when I visited the government dispensary for immunization that I learnt that my baby had an issue.

They disclosed that my baby had severe jaundice, and needed phototherapy. We were referred to Kenyatta National Hospital. Unfortunately, nurses and doctors were on strike. They created some space for my son and I had to express milk and feed him every two hours. It was hectic. We didn't know that the severe jaundice would leave our boy with cerebral palsy.

We got discharged after three weeks but we wondered why our child was not hitting the normal milestones. The doctor had not mentioned anything to us. He was a poor feeder so we thought, probably, that contributed to his slow growth.

It's when we visited another doctor that we were told that our son had cerebral palsy. We were advised to consider occupational therapy for him. I googled and discovered that it was the reason he didn't have good muscle coordination.

Since then, I have been consistent with therapy and the boy is doing well. I have trained him to love himself and know that he is wonderfully made.


Fearful for third baby

In 2012 I conceived again. This time we were anxious and fearful. During the antenatal clinics, I would request the nurses to check in detail because I had fears of getting another special child.

I delivered my beautiful girl, Favor, in March 2013. She had mild jaundice. We got discharged and the baby was suckling very well. I went home a happy mother.

Three weeks later, my daughter could neither suckle nor cry. Fear engulfed me. As I tried to help her one morning, she convulsed.

This made me panic. We rushed to Nazareth Hospital and the child was in a coma on arrival. She was diagnosed with neonatal meningitis and soon after developed autism. She, as a result, attains milestones very slowly. Her lack of speech bothered me a lot. Currently, through therapy, she can talk a bit and we can communicate.

Having a good support system for parents with such kids helps a lot. My husband has been a great support. He is a true friend to our children.

Faith Wambui and her husband Patrick Murimi with their three children, Hope Wanjiku; John Kinuthia and Favor Njoki at their home, Kiambaa, Kiambu County. PHOTO| POOL

Support given

Then there is my house manager, Zipporah who while I was admitted, took our son for therapy. She was with us for six years. I would urge parents to respect their house managers. Getting one that understands your children and takes care of them as her own is something to be thankful for.

Parents to children that are abled-differently should show love, provide, educate, and do the best they can for them. This helps the kids to accept themselves and know that they are important. I always tell my son that he is the manager of the house when dad and mum are not in.

He always has a plan C and D to tackle his issues. We laugh a lot at this because plan A and B didn't work. I like his mind. He is such a brilliant boy. The special kids love being commended, appreciated, and lifted.


Integrating to Community

I would also encourage parents to expose their children to the community. We are known by the community as the parents with special kids. We don't hide or lock our children inside. They school in a special school; the boy is in grade two and the girl is in nursery school.

Parents should walk with their shoulders held high even when stigmatised. I am in a WhatsApp group for parents with children with special needs and this has helped me gain confidence. We block information that is not helpful to us and our family. I have learnt a lot from those groups and feel a sense of belonging.

I took up a Diploma in Chaplaincy and graduated last year. I am continually pursuing my dreams of reaching out to special parents and caregivers. I would not want to see the children grow to hate themselves."


anndungu75@gmail.com