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Mamamia Cares: If Pippa can take one step, then you can take 10,000….

cerebral palsy
Pippa has cerebral palsy.

By JO GRAY

If Pippa can take one step, then you can take 10,000…

If I’ve learnt anything from my first few years as mum to twin girls, then this is it – kids are tough, and kids just get on with it.

They take life as it comes, set their sights on goals, and work towards achieving them – usually with a smile. Lots of adults could take a leaf out of their book.

A memory I will have forever is my daughter Pippa’s smile when she took her first, albeit wobbly steps. Pippa was about 2 ½ and her twin sister Indianna had been walking for more than a year. Pippa was determined not to be left behind.

She lined up her tiny walking frame, made sure her balance was right, and took that first unsteady step forward. The years of therapy and exercises had come to this – her first step towards independence. The room erupted into screams of joy and tears of happiness, which were mostly mine.

It was a far cry from my tears of anguish when my tiny girls were born. They were nine weeks early, each weighing just 1400 grams. Pippa and Indianna had shared one placenta, which resulted in Pippa having a brain injury and being placed on life support when she was just 7 days old.

With her condition deteriorating, my husband and I faced the agonising possibility of having to decide whether to turn the machine off.

That’s when Pippa first showed she was a fighter. Her gritty determination saw her turn the corner and some two months later, we took our tiny twin daughters home.

Pippa with her mother.
Pippa with her mother, Jo.
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But we soon noticed Pippa wasn’t reaching the same physical milestones as Indianna, like reaching out and rolling. We knew something was wrong – and at six months old she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It’s a permanent disability that affects movement, and it is Pippa’s for life.

We had what seemed like a thousand questions – would she walk, would she talk, would she be able to live independently? There were no answers. The road ahead was the big unknown.

The possibility of raising a child with a disability had never crossed my mind. I didn’t know if I’d be strong enough, tough enough for the journey ahead.

Thankfully Cerebral Palsy Alliance stepped in and was a lifeline for us. They helped us navigate through the maze of therapy, equipment and treatment. But most importantly, they gave us hope. Hope that Pippa, with ongoing support and treatment, would lead a fulfilling, rewarding and happy life.

And then, of course, there’s Pippa’s stubborn nature and gritty determination to succeed. Just try telling her she can’t do something!

So now you might understand just how proud I am to see Pippa in her tiny walking frame, determined to keep up with her sister. Despite the painful muscle spasms and the ongoing therapy to ensure her leg muscles don’t tighten up, Pippa is walking. And Pippa is smiling.

My dream is that families across Australia will show the same gritty determination as Pippa and step up to the challenge of helping kids with cerebral palsy. All it takes is getting a team of 4 together for STEPtember, and taking 10,000 steps a day for one month.

If Pippa can take just one step, then I’m confident everyday Aussies will be able to do 10,000 steps a day. Imagine how good it will make you feel!!

We’re excited to offer free STEPtember team registrations for the first 10 Mamamia readers.  Simply email [email protected] with the subject line Mamamia.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance provides support and services for children and adults with cerebral palsy. Every 15 hours an Australian baby is born with cerebral palsy, making it the most common physical disability in childhood. One in three children with cerebral palsy can’t walk, one in five cannot talk and one in two is in chronic pain.

You can step up and help kids with cerebral palsy by joining STEPtember from 4 September to 2 October. To register a team of 4 go to  www.steptember.org.au

Please share to help raise support for this cause, and help kids with cerebral palsy.  

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