Tumelos story STEPS clubfoot care southern AfricaI learned to educate other moms – paying it forward

When Tumelo turned four in March 2018, his mom Nomsa wrote to us to express her excitement and gratitude:

“I can confidently say I am a proud mom of a clubfoot-free baby! His last appointment was in March 2018 – he is 4 years old.

Finding out for the very first time that your bundle of joy has been diagnosed with clubfoot – being something you never heard of, seen or witnessed – was very worrying and depressing.

Well that was me when I was told at the local clinic check-up at six months that my son Tumelo had clubfoot. I had mixed emotions, and so many questions in my head. As a mom, once your baby is placed on your chest for the very first time, you expect no flaws.

An appointment was booked at Baragwanath for further assessment of Tumelo when he was 10 months, and when I entered the orthopaedic ward I panicked even more as there were many more kids with clubfoot in different forms and severity, so imagine as a mom that time you are thinking will my baby be okay? Is this clubfoot correctable? What causes it, and why my baby?

Honestly I was honoured, because on my first appointment I was welcomed and introduced to an organisation called “Steps”. They simplified my understanding of clubfoot and what was even more consoling was to hear and be shown pictures of kids who were successfully treated. I was given a Steps pamphlet on how to take care of the cast, family support and how important is it to fully attend the appointments.

Tumelos success STEPS clubfoot care Southern africaComing every Wednesday for the first few months was hectic, tiring and emotionally draining but when you are a parent with the hope of reaching a goal of your child being corrected despite how you feel I attended all my appointments. At times my son can be irritable, crying and restless, but what I have learnt is that the more support and understanding you get from your family, partner, community and friends it slowly becomes easier to adapt to the situation.

Then we reached the stage of wearing the shoes which is also more challenging as the child is now older and believe you me all babies hate wearing the shoes at first. As I have said stick to your goal, after struggle comes good results.

Again Steps was available to educate us on how to put them on, how long and to still adhere to the appointments. With my son he was not booked for tenotomy as he had mild clubfoot, but through Steps I was able to strengthen other mothers who were attending for the first time, and feeling lost, I could give them hope. The progress on my son’s feet kept me going as at each and every appointment I could see results. Although there will be sleepless nights because of my baby being restless I was always reminded that ” clubfoot can be corrected”.

It’s been a long journey as with a blink of an eye – yaaay – my son is four years old, and his feet are the best thing I ever seen. One can say “no, this baby doesn’t have any signs of a clubfoot”.

Through this journey I conquered public mockery, over-explaining, and being stared at whenever I walked in the mall with my son. I remember one lady said to me “She’s lying she hurt the baby”. I just smiled and said to myself, “Clubfoot can be corrected”.

All I can advise other mommies is that you should always ask questions during the appointment, speak to other mommies, monitor improvements, learn more about clubfoot and celebrate every good result. The more you loosen up and feel happy about the progress, the more you create a healthy space for both you and your baby.

Today I am a proud mom of a son with successfully corrected clubfoot and give my thanks to the Bara clinic staff and of course our babysitters “STEPS” for never giving up on us and always putting a smile on every mother’s face.

I appreciate STEPS support and the friendly staff, without your empathy and sympathy at the hospitals parents who are affected would not have emotionally handled the situation.

I learned to educate other moms I met attending baby clinics in other hospitals, and I always tell them of the great support and understanding I received from your services and how well my family and I are coping.

God bless and keep up the good work with other mothers!”

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