"I never thought of having an abortion," says a mother of teenage girls with microcephaly
Viviane tells how she raised two daughters with microcephaly and gives a message of strength and perseverance to families
Tuesday | May 24, 2016 | 1:45 PM | Last update: September 22, 2016, 4:08 PM (Brasilia time)
In the 2000s, when Viviane Lima, a Brazilian civil servant from the city of Manaus, carried out a morphological ultrasound scan in the 24th week of her pregnancy, she discovered that her eldest daughter, Ana Victória, had microcephaly, a condition that has spread rapidly through Brazil over the last few months.
"I was 18 years old when I was given the diagnosis. I knew it would make a difference to how I would raise my daughter because she’d be a special child, and I knew nothing about the condition. I can’t even say that I got desperate. I was worried because I knew I’d have to dedicate more time [to her] and that things would not be like it is for any other child. It was new for me and even for the doctors who were also curious about the birth of Ana Victória," she recalled.
Viviane also tells that when she heard from the doctors that her baby might not survive, she needed to find strength to carry on. She says that “God was her foundation. I believe that with God and the support from my family I could find the strength to get there."
A year and a half later in the 24th week of her second pregnancy Viviane was told that her yet-to-be-born daughter Maria Luiza had also been diagnosed with microcephaly. That was when she found out that in her case the condition was caused by genetic factors. "I admit I was very worried, because Maria Luiza was born much more disabled than Ana Victória. But I’d learned how to do certain things from my first pregnancy."
THE KEY: NEVER GET DISHEARTENED
Viviane had been to all possible doctors and did all the exams, but didn’t see the condition as a life sentence. "I didn’t believe it when the doctor said that Ana would never walk or talk. When Maria Luiza was born, they didn’t expect her to live more than 24 hours. Perhaps if I’d accepted it then, today I wouldn’t even have my daughters," she said, touched.
"The first year of their life was the most important, because stimulation has to be more intense [in this period]. There came a time when I found myself learning how to treat them and deal with them, all because of what the doctors, physiotherapists, and speech therapists had taught me."
According to Viviane, Ana Victória, 16, and Maria Luiza, 14, have changed her life for the better. With encouragement and medical treatment, the girls have had triumphs over the years. "They always went out with me! They always went to the movies. I never hid them or left them alone at home. People always knew about their story. Today they’re fully socialized and prepared to be in any place." She celebrates the fully inclusion of her girls who attend traditional schools, although they still face difficulties with the teaching method.
The girls grew up surrounded by the care, the attention, and the love of their mother and relatives and also of Carlos Alberto Lima Junior, who has dedicated himself fulltime to them since he married Viviane. "When we met I didn’t see this as an obstacle to our relationship. Maria Luiza was 2 and Ana Victória was 4," he told our staff.
The one who also offers support and love to Ana Victória and Maria Luiza is their younger sister, Julia, from Viviane’s second marriage. "The girls have developed a lot since Julia was born. That’s why today I fight a lot more for inclusion in the school and everywhere [they go]," said Viviane.
IN FAVOR OF LIFE
Pregnant women who are carrying a baby with a scary diagnosis and are given the option of aborting should reconsider their decision, as Viviane argues, "I’m against abortion, because I saw things happen before my very eyes. I saw what’s possible! My daughters came into the world with difficulties but with persistence we managed to overcome everything."
The Religion of God, of the Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, under its permanent campaign in favor of Life, helps us understand where our life begins and what the serious spiritual consequences are of induced abortion. Its President-Preacher, journalist, writer, and radio broadcaster Paiva Netto, affirms in his article Pela Vida [For Life], "It is not by liquidating life that social problems will be solved. They lack legitimate solution that fights, for example, impunity. This leads to the establishment of the pandemic corruption that affects or prevents taking and sustaining effective measures relating to health, education, security, and the inalienable rights of individuals and of the multitudes. Abortion is a crime that injures innocent lives with death."
THE POWER OF SOLIDARITY
Viviane also gives a message of strength and courage to families that now face this same challenge. “I’d tell them to have Faith first and foremost! When you have children with microcephaly, you want to know what’s going to happen in the future. But you have to learn to live one day at a time, because when I learned to do so things improved for me.”
Viviane is always in touch with other parents of children with microcephaly and shares the lessons she has learned: "One of the things that has touched my heart a lot over the last few days was the feeling of solidarity and the exchange of experiences. I use to say that it’s not me that helps my daughters, but they’re the ones who help me. . . . I went through this years ago and it was all worth it because now I’m able to pass it on to other families. Everything I went through in the past was crucial for the present days. God already knew that this time would come, and I’m here to help."