For Brazil’s Zika Families, a Life of Struggle along with Scares

On the bench of which Monday, Ms. Vieira barely registered of which the item was her 26th birthday. Over the weekend in Olinda, their hometown up the coast through Recife, Daniel had convulsed in seizures for three hours straight, his lips purple. Ms. Vieira feared he could stop breathing, however couldn’t get to a hospital with doctors on duty through her downtrodden neighborhood at of which late hour, when rats scurry on the rutted roads however no buses were running.

She along with the different mothers compared notes. One said she briefly couldn’t find her baby of which morning, then noticed he’d rolled off the bed. “of which’s not bad,” another said. “He moved. I wish I had a baby like of which.”

Suddenly, a van appeared, transporting them to a beauty parlor for pampering paid for by a local singer. At the Velvet Salon, the air was gauzy with hair-product mist. Mothers rested their babies on red-tufted settees.

Ms. Vieira left Daniel that has a cousin because being inside too long agitated him. She chose a pearl-colored manicure: “She Said Yes” as a base coat, “Kitty White” on top. A hairstylist turned her unruly dark curls straight along with shiny. Gazing into a mirror, she snapped a selfie. “Look at me!” she crowed.

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Ms. Vieira carried Daniel as she picked up João Pedro through kindergarten. She worries of which she can be not paying enough attention to João Pedro given the relentless attention Daniel requires.

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Adriana Zehbrauskas for The completely new York Times

The respite was short-lived. of which afternoon, Daniel’s medicine ran out along with Ms. Vieira had no money for more.

Daniel’s very conception defied the odds. Ms. Vieira developed uterine cancer when her different child was a toddler. She had resisted doctors’ advice to have her uterus removed, even though they said her chances of having another child were slim.

While undergoing chemotherapy, she began dating Dalton Douglas de Oliveira, several years her junior, who attended her evangelical church. They rushed marriage so their church wouldn’t learn of their premarital sex.

A month after the wedding, she learned she was three months pregnant. “the item was the biggest joy of my life,” she said. Her husband was excited, too. “We wanted to have our child,” he said.

Still, “the belly condemned us,” he said, causing stress because what had clearly been a pre-marriage conception prompted the church to bar them through communion for months.

several months into pregnancy, Ms. Vieira became distraught when a doctor said of which an ultrasound showed hydrocephalus, a fluid-filled brain, along with of which the baby might die, she recalled.

however at seven months, another doctor disagreed, saying, “Look, your son can be special, he features a modest problem, however what he has can be microcephaly,” Ms. Vieira said. “the item was not bad news.”

Her relief evaporated after Daniel’s birth. “I thought the item was God’s punishment because I got pregnant even though I was not supposed to,” she said.

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Adriana Zehbrauskas for The completely new York Times

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Top, a neighbor holds Daniel as his mother waits for the bus to Recife through their home in Olinda. Bottom, Ms. Vieira holds Daniel on the bus ride. Since Daniel’s birth 16 months ago, Ms. Vieira has separated through her husband, lost monthly government assistance, relinquished a job along with today patches together a livelihood with different government help.

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Adriana Zehbrauskas for The completely new York Times

Caring for a sick child strained the couple’s relationship. Daniel cried so inconsolably of which “I thought my life could end,” Ms. Vieira said. Mr. de Oliveira said his wife could not ask him for help along with admitted he was too angry at her to offer. “My problem was direct with her along with not with the baby,” he said.

At two months, Daniel awoke laboring for breath. At the hospital, Ms. Vieira recalled, doctors suspected mold or dust at home was aggravating his lungs, along with recommended improving their home’s air quality or moving.

Mr. de Oliveira thought his wife, long embarrassed by their church-owned, rent-free home, was exaggerating. She found another house; he declined to move.

Things exploded after of which. Ms. Vieira gave television interviews claiming her husband “could not give attention to the boy,” she said, adding of which the publicity prompted donations through abroad. He retaliated, posting a video insulting her. She began dating along with told him, “You are not going to see your son,” he said. After technical disputes about child support, he stopped paying. along with when he ignored her on the street, she told people he was definitely shunning Daniel’s illness.

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Ms. Vieira changing Daniel after bathing him. For a while, a local group of police officers chipped in to help her get anti-seizure medicine for Daniel.

Credit
Adriana Zehbrauskas for The completely new York Times

Ms. Vieira, a former supermarket bakery worker receiving government assistance for cancer, struggled to afford Daniel’s seizure medicine, Sabril, about 300 reais ($97) a month. To help, a group of police officers began buying the item, along with she along with different mothers sometimes shared pills.

however Daniel’s seizures worsened, seemingly weakening his ability to support his head. She made a cellphone video documenting one episode. “Do you see his little shoes shaking?” she asked.

Ms. Vieira started off giving Daniel more Sabril — three half-pills daily instead of the prescribed two. After his three-hour seizure crisis, she gave him four. Then she ran out.

“I had This particular crazy feeling,” she said. “He had to take the medication, no matter how.”

She called the police officers, however they couldn’t gather enough money. She texted 319 U.M.A. members on WhatsApp. Hours passed. Nobody had extra Sabril.

Desperate, she called her estranged husband at his plaster business, demanding the unpaid child support.

“If I had the item, I could have given the item to you,” he said.

Borrowing his mother’s credit card, he visited several pharmacies before finding Sabril. Ms. Vieira, in a turquoise U.M.A. T-shirt of which said “Microcephaly, the item’s not the end,” made him pass the medicine through the window bars of her mint green, metal-roofed house.

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For Brazil’s Zika Families, a Life of Struggle along with Scares

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