Building a Family When Her Muscles Won’t Work
As a child, Camilla strived to conquer muscular dystrophy and leave her wheelchair behind. As an adult, two risky pregnancies took a toll on her body, but delivered the family she’s always wanted.
Photos by Claudia Gori
Camilla Kjeldsen Nielsen has deep blue eyes and a sweet smile. Camilla, 33, has had muscular dystrophy since she was three years old. Muscular dystrophy is a genetic neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness and death of muscle cells and tissue. For women affected by this disease, pregnancy is a difficult choice. Apart from the chances of transmitting the genes that carry disease, pregnancy can increase muscle weakness. Yet Camilla took those chances.
Today, she and her boyfriend, Jesper, have three children: Ella, four, and twins, Agnes and Esther, born sixteen months ago. Camilla, who lives in Randers, Denmark, still doesn’t know if one or more of her girls will be affected by the disease, as the diagnosis can take time. Camilla’s own body is in worse condition than before the pregnancies: she often gets tired, she can’t lift her children, and she needs help twelve hours per day. But when she looks back at the risks she took, sh…