From Feeling Broken to Looking Beyond Broken: Palestinian Mothers’ Experiences of Having a Child With Spina Bifida

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Abstract

Spina bifida (SB) is the second most common birth defect worldwide. Mothers of children with SB face extraordinary challenges due to the complicated conditions and disability of their children. Little is known about the impact of these challenges on the mothers’ well-being, particularly in Middle Eastern culture, where chronic illness and disability are perceived as a stigma, and care of disabled children has traditionally been the responsibility of the mother. The aim of this study was to illuminate mothers’ lived experience of having a child with SB in Palestine. Twenty Arab-Muslim mothers living in Palestine were purposefully recruited from several rehabilitation centers in Palestine and were interviewed in 2014. The transcribed interviews were analyzed according to phenomenological hermeneutics. The mothers’ experiences were described in the main theme: From feeling broken to looking beyond broken. Four themes were interwoven: living with constant anxiety, living with uncertainty, living with a burden, and living with a difficult life situation. These findings highlight the burden and resilience of the Arab-Muslim Palestinian mothers while striving to maintain the well-being of the whole family as well as facilitating the child’s welfare.

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