Journey with little Willow
Proud mum shares her microcephaly story to connect with others
COMPLICATIONS early on in Samantha Rodgers’ pregnancy with her second child indicated that something wasn’t quite right, but nothing could have prepared the 23-year-old for what was ahead.
At 20 weeks, scans and tests revealed baby Willow O’Keefe had clubfoot and at 34 weeks she came into the world via caesarean.
It was just the beginning of a long journey for the now nine-month-old which has often left her mum feeling isolated.
“When she was about two-months-old we were starting to notice that her head circumference wasn’t doing much and she was a very floppy baby,” Samantha said.
“Meanwhile we were doing weekly trips to Brisbane for clubfoot treatment and cardiac problems as well.”
Willow has been diagnosed with global development delay, hyper mobility and microcephaly – impacting her mobility, sight, hearing and overall brain function.
Samantha searched the internet high and low, hoping to connect with families with similar experiences, but found there was little out there.
“The biggest thing is microcephaly is not common in Australia – I don’t know any other family or anyone else that is going through it,” Samantha said.
“I found one group on Facebook but it’s 99% American and there was one Australian page but there’s no activity on it.”
As Microcephaly Awareness Day on September 30 approached, Samantha decided to take things into her own hands, starting a Facebook page called Watching Willow Grow to share her family’s journey.
“I want to raise awareness that there are people going through these things out there and we’re more than welcome to talk about it or just listen and chat,” she said. “Once you’ve got more than one thing going on you don’t really fit into a category and you feel isolated. I don’t want people to feel like they have to sit at home alone just because they have a child that has different things going on.”
Search Watching Willow Grow on Facebook to join the family on their journey.
NOT ALONE: Samantha Rodgers with daughter Willow O'Keefe, 9 months, hopes to find other parents dealing with similar medical experiences.
JOURNEY: Samantha Rodgers with her daughter Willow O'Keefe.