I've always wanted to have a daughter who would become a beauty queen or a supermodel someday. That’s why I named my firstborn Hannah Zamantha, para ’pag tinawag siya sa stage, may dating! Never did I imagine na sa hinaba-haba ng pangalan ng anak ko, ’di man lang pala niya maisusulat ’yun. You see, Hannah has cerebral palsy.
Borderline baby I gave birth to Hannah on December 20, 1993. She was overdue and I went through 12 hours of labor. By the time she came out, she had already pooped in my tummy and ingested meconium, the greenish black stool passed by newborns.
She also had jaundice, which would normally warrant a blood transfusion to flush out contaminated blood. The attending physician ruled out the procedure, saying Hannah was below the borderline level of infection. Only months later did we find out from a neonatologist that a blood transfusion might have lessened Hannah’s succeeding complications.
By her first birthday, Hannah could not even support her head. She was also underweight. We brought her to several doctors and she underwent a battery of tests. In the EEG (electroencephalogram), nakitaan pa siya ng seizures. All other areas like eyesight and hearing were fine but she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Tiny triumphs With hope in our hearts, my mom-in-law and I would bring Hannah to different places for healing. Kung saan mayroon akong marinig na nanggagamot, pinapatulan ko, gumaling lang si Hannah.
When Hannah was four, nag-50-50 siya because of dengue. I was crying to God, “Lord we have accepted and loved Hannah as she is, kahit masakit. Please ’wag N’yo siya kukunin.” Hannah required blood transfusion and surprisingly, after that procedure we noticed phenomenal changes within the next six months. Hannah became more energetic and her receptiveness improved.
As her motor skills increased, we were able to enroll her at age five in a SpEd school with therapy programs. When she turned eight, we transferred her to a mainstream school. Now, at age 10, she’s enrolled in the third grade with her eight-year-old sister Dharyll. She’s not there for the academic program but more for socialization. I stay with her inside the classroom throughout the class periods.
It took me a year of meetings with the owner of the school just so they’d take her in. I told them, “Subukan n’yo muna si Hannah. She’s not violent. She just wants friends. Matuto lang siya ng isang prayer or song thankful na ako n’un.”
Hoping for more I am very much grateful to the Lord and proud of how much Hannah has achieved these past 10 years. Last year, her developmental pediatrician’s assessment result came out as “severe, profound mental retardation.” At nine years, her cognitive age was for a two-and-a-half-year-old child. As parents, Allan and I can’t stop dreaming of better things for her. I’m still wishing she’d be able to talk comprehensively, learn to write, and live independently one day.
Among the things I want for her is to have hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), a revolutionary procedure done in the US. It involves inhalation of 100 percent oxygen in a specially designed chamber, which results in more oxygen being delivered to the organs and tissues in the body. We are not rich but we are saving up for that, and I might also look to the kindness of strangers to help us out.
I know my daughter’s capabilities because I believe in her. And why should I stop dreaming? Though she might not be a beauty queen one day, Hannah will remain one of the most beautiful people I have met in my life.