Jour­ney with lit­tle Wil­low

Proud mum shares her mi­cro­cephaly story to con­nect with oth­ers

Maroochy Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

PHOTO: JOHN MCCUTCHEON

NOT ALONE: Sa­man­tha Rodgers with daugh­ter Wil­low O'Keefe, 9 months, hopes to find other par­ents deal­ing with sim­i­lar med­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ences.

PHOTO: JOHN MCCUTCHEON

JOUR­NEY: Sa­man­tha Rodgers with her daugh­ter Wil­low O'Keefe.

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