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EDITIONS
Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 00:47 GMT 01:47 UK
'I will never see my daughter properly'
Kate's sight is gradually deteriorating
Kate will have lost her sight by the age of 40

Every mother worries that her baby is going to run into danger.

Whether their baby has nappy rash, blotchy skin or is feeding properly.

But for Kate Crofts the problems are more acute than most.

For Kate, 26, of Essex, is registered blind and can only see her daughter Phoebe's face if they are nose to nose - otherwise her face is a fuzzy blur.

Deterioration

She has cone rod dystrophy and her sight has been deteriorating since the age of seven. By the time she reaches 40 she is expected to have lost all sight.

But despite her disability Kate cares wonderfully well for four month Phoebe. She loves being a mother and strives to be as independent as possible.


I always put her in bright clothes, because if she is wearing a white sleep suit I cannot find her when she's lying on a pale background

Kate Crofts

Although she can only see a vague outline of Phoebe's face, Kate still manages to change her nappies, give her feeds and play with her.

But she admits that as Phoebe gets older and more mobile the problems may grow.

"Looking after Phoebe is easier than I expected.

Kate and Phoebe
Kate always dresses Phoebe in bright clothes

"My main concerns are that I am not going to see things such as when she has blotchy skin or nappy rash.

"But as she gets older I am not going to be able to see her and that is going to be difficult."

"I always put her in bright clothes, because if she is wearing a white sleep suit I cannot find her when she's lying on a pale background.

"Once I almost put the washing on top of her because she was lying on our white duvet and wearing white."

Supportive

Kate said that her family and in particular her husband Phil have been fantastically supportive.

She said she is determined to do everything she can for Phoebe, but admits that taking her out in her pram alone is impossible.

"The biggest disability is going outside.

"I can take the pram out, but only with someone with me.

"People used to try to push the pram for me, but I had to assert myself and say that I was her Mum and that I wanted to do things for her.

"I have learned to install her car seat just by feel and when I go to someone else's house I take my shoes off so that I can feel my way around."

Daunting

Tasks that might seem daunting such as feeding a baby when you are unable to see, have now become second nature to Kate.

"Breastfeeding is the best for us, we can do it by feel and I know she is getting as much as she needs.

"Now that I am weaning Phoebe I have to hold the back of her head so that I can put the spoon in.

"I have frozen all her food in ice cubes and labelled the bags they are in, in big black letters.

"But sometimes I still can't always see what they are and I have given Phoebe beetroot instead of strawberries."

But Kate admits that however well she adapts that she will still miss key milestones in Phoebe's life.

"I will miss seeing her in her first play. I won't be able to read to her."

But she knows that if she has another child, as she hopes, that she will see even less of its childhood.

The RNIB Helpline offers information, advice and support for anyone with a serious sight problem.

Call 0845 766 9999 if you or someone you know has a serious sight problem.

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