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I’ve never heard my 4-year-old baby laugh or cry

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

The dream of every mother-to-be is to deliver a healthy baby, find happiness and enjoy watching him/her grow into a wonderful little human.

Most importantly, one imagines the many moments and memories you would build together and it is such an encouragement that gets one through pregnancy period.

So it was not a wonder that when Cynthia Tabu got pregnant four years ago, like every mother she was optimistic her baby would turn up fine.

She didn’t expect that she would be struggling so much in life with no moment of laughter at all from her little girl, baby Natasha who is suffering from cerebral palsy.

“She has never laughed a day in her life. I have never even heard my daughter cry. I can see the tears sometimes and it is just too painful. I try to be strong, but it drains my feelings. I used to have hopes that things would be well eventually, but as time has shown me… nothing seems to get better.

Even my husband abandoned us and left home and to make things worse, does not bother anymore about extending any help our way. I have no work to support myself or the child, so things are really bad,” says the 27-year-old who hails from Mtwapa, Mombasa.

About cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Signs and symptoms vary among people and over time. Often, symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. There may be problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing, and speaking.

In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these.

The new mother had discovered that something was wrong with her baby girl after noting that her coordinations were minimal a few days after birth and later it was confirmed by the doctors that she had the disorder. The worst part was learning that the disorder did not have any cure. But treatments and therapies exist that can provide relief from symptoms.

People with cerebral palsy commonly have eye muscle imbalance, in which the eyes don’t focus on the same object. They also may suffer reduced range of motion at various joints of their bodies due to muscle stiffness.

The effect of the disorder on functional abilities varies greatly. Some affected people can walk while others can’t. In baby Natasha’s case, her muscles have completely stiffened, especially because she has never been taken in for therapy sessions as recommended by the doctor.

“It is not my wish not to take my baby in for the therapy, but I don’t have the means. There is no one to look after my child to allow me a little space to work and get some money.

I am the caregiver fully. I can’t even afford transport to and from the hospital on the dates specified. Also, she is on a special diet recommended by a doctor that I can’t even manage to provide,” says Cynthia who now lives under the mercy of well-wishers.

Runaway husband?

Cynthia says when her husband, Peter Sirima, left home for Ethiopia about a year ago, he had explained to her that he got a work contract, which would boost their financial muscle since she could not work herself. He sent money for a while, but eventually the help stopped coming.

Cynthia says he then stopped picking her calls, blocked her number and any related parties who she would connect to link with him. “I don’t know what really happened, but he suddenly just did not care about us,” she adds.

But when Fusion contacted Sirima via phonecall, he denied the allegations. He said it is the pressures of life, which have forced him to stay away from his family, not that he is running away from responsibility. He says the pressures and expectations are what have forced him to stay away from his family until things get better.

“I have always taken care of Cynthia and our daughter, Natasha. And all this time I am doing everything to make sure that all is well. Even after I left for Ethiopia, I still used to send her rent money. But at the moment, my finances are tight, my money is stuck somewhere, so I have to take time to get everything together for my family. I love my daughter, I don’t want her to suffer,” says Sirima.

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