Health

'We have a child with microcephaly, and we're happy'

Germana Soares doesn't want pity.

When I met her last week at a small rehabilitation clinic in Recife, Brazil, she was bouncing her three-month-old son Guilherme on her lap and pinching the cheeks of any baby within arm's reach.

I expected Guilherme to show the classic symptom of microcephaly — a disproportionately small head. Other babies at the physical therapy session that day certainly did. But he looked healthy and happy. Nothing out of the ordinary, except his extreme cuteness.

That normalcy is what led Soares and her husband initially not to tell family or friends about Guilherme's condition. If no one could tell he had microcephaly, why bring it up? It's a question other mothers at the clinic asked Soares, too. 

"The priority is solidarity," she says. She's tired, in particular, of Brazil's national media portraying families of children with microcephaly as miserable.

"We're a normal family," she says. "Normal father, normal mother, normal child. We have a child with microcephaly, and we're happy." 

The joy Soares brought to the other mothers at the rehabilitation clinic in Recife was palpable. I left completely awed by their collective strength in the face of such uncertainty.

Watch her story above.

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