It’s heartbreaking for Jemimah Read when her five-year-old daughter Mahalah comes home from school in tears and asks her why she can’t jump like her friends when they play with their skipping rope.
And when her son Gideon asks her if he’ll ever be able to fly, she replies: ‘Once you’re in heaven you will.’
Arriving five weeks early by caesarean, the birth of triplets Mahalah, Gideon and Anwen was relatively normal.
However, at six months old, the trio still couldn’t lift their heads. Tests finally revealed all three were suffering from muscular dystrophy, a muscle-wasting disease that affects motor neurone skills and causes respiratory illness.
The news was a crushing blow for Jemimah, 29, and her husband, Ben, 28.
‘It took so long for the diagnosis that I think I managed to convince myself the doctors were wrong,’ she says.
‘But when they mentioned the word wheelchair, I knew my children’s lives would never be normal.’ Jemimah admits her day-to-day life is completely hectic.
The day starts before the children are even awake, as she and Ben try to enjoy a cup of coffee together.
‘It’s usually interrupted by someone needing the toilet or being turned in bed because they’re sore,’ explains Jemimah, of Canowindra, NSW.
‘Then begins the full-on mission of washing, dressing and feeding the kids before gettin them to school.
It’s been five years since they were born and the routine doesn’t get any easier.
It’s not like other children who grow up and become independent.’ But despite all the hardship, Jemimah says she wouldn’t change her life one little bit.
It’s often in the middle of the craziness, like when the triplets are on their way to school in their powered wheelchairs, that she realises how lucky she is. ‘I try to focus on the positive side of it all,’ Jemimah says.
‘They make so many people smile with their crazy personalities and the chaos they cause when they come speeding down the street. My life has completely changed since having them. I like to think I’m a better person for it.’By Lisa Harmer
Photos: Nigel WrightYou can discover more about the Read family at www.everydayhero.com.au/readtriplets