Mother of three daughters with microcephaly tells others: “It will be okay”

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Thousands of mothers in Brazil are heartbroken as their babies are born with small heads and undersized brains. The likely cause is the Zika virus. A mother in St. Joseph knows what those moms are feeling. She experienced it three times.

The day after Chelsey Campbell was born, a doctor used the words "mentally retarded".

"That was just like somebody stabbing you in the heart," said her mother, Robin Campbell.

She admits she thought twice about naming her baby Chelsey.

"That's for my perfect child. And then I was so ashamed, and I just picked her up and held her close to me and I sobbed, and I knew that I would do everything in my power to be a good mother," said Campbell.

Chelsey had microcephaly, the same condition affecting thousands of babies in Brazil now. The babies have small heads and underdeveloped brains. It is linked to the Zika virus in Brazil, but there was a genetic cause in Chelsey's case. The Campbells were given a one in four chance of having another child with microcephaly, but their next daughter, Cherie, was also born with it and so was their next daughter, Chandel.

Today, the Campbell sisters are in the thirties. They're insightful women who want to share this with others affected by microcephaly.

"I want them to understand that God made them this way for a reason. Sometimes we don't understand, but there's a reason," said Chandel.

Chelsey added, "It's just a part of me. I just learned to live with it, deal with it."

The sisters have had many challenges in learning, remembering and following directions. To this day, none drives. Two live at home. Cherie is married with five children. None has microcephaly.

"My children are great and they're very helpful," said Cherie.

Chelsey works part-time as a culinary aide.

"They're giving you a chance to earn money, to be independent and if they allow that, it brings more accomplishment," she said.

Cherie is an award-winning poet. Chandel is a singer while Chelsey is the one who records their accomplishments.

"They're beautiful women who have loving, giving hearts," said their mother.

Campbell has again felt heartache as she's heard of the new cases of microcephaly. Her message to those mothers?

"It will be okay, you know. We all get things thrown at us in life and you just do the best you can," she said.

The Campbells certainly have.

Thousands of babies are born in the U.S. each year with microcephaly. Disabilities range from very mild to severe. Besides genetics, other causes include certain infections and exposure to drugs or alcohol in the womb.

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