My life changed after my son’s brain damage during birth – Joyce Wanjohi

Joyce Wanjohi with her son Neil. [Photo: Courtesy]

After 42 weeks of pregnancy, Joyce Wanjohi was ready to bring to the world her firstborn.

What she did not know is that this would mark a new journey in her life as her child developed brain complications and has special needs.

Dr Susan Adongo recently narrated how Joyce was shocked upon learning that at 21, she would be taking care of a child with special needs, something no one is ever prepared for.

“He was blue and floppy. And he did not cry. The room was suddenly filled with doctors and nurses trying to resuscitate him. I felt my body leave my body. Too exhausted to take in what was happening. 

I closed my eyes and probably my ears as well,” she recalls.

The baby named Neil was whisked to the ICU to try to save him.

“They said his brain had undergone some form of insult during the birthing process. I later learnt the term for this: Birth Asphyxia. So I went home without a baby.”

He spent two weeks in the ICU and another two in the nursery and they were finally discharged.

Joyce’s journey taking care of Neil began. The baby never cried as other children do. He would wake up in the middle of the night, stare around and go back to sleep without feeding because he could not cry.

Neil was later diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy.

“Tears became my food. I cried so much I couldn’t focus at work so I took a break. I grew sour with each passing day like curdled milk left in the heat. I was so broken I went on a spiritual crusade. 

Attended overnight prayer meetings and healing conventions. I would carry Neil and ask all and sundry to pray for him. I refused to believe that this was going to be my life. Denial is a twisted, draining soul thinner,” Joyce remarks.

Occupational therapy sessions became draining for the family as one session costs Ksh3,500 and two were needed each week for a lifetime. Visits to the hospital became a norm for Joyce.

Six years later, Neil is all grown and Joyce has accepted that this happened for a reason.

“I have now changed thoughts that used to start with, ‘I wish, I regret, I should have to ‘ I am thankful for,” she offers.