In an new interview with Exhale, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker opened up about their daughter’s spina bifida diagnosis, a birth defect that affects the development of the spinal cord.
The condition often causes paralysis, bladder complications and other physical and developmental conditions among children.
“We went from being the hot Hollywood couple with a perfect-to-be baby to completely devastated, shocked,” said Boris . “It was something we couldn’t possibly have ever anticipated. We were helpless, we were lost. It took us quite a while to find our bearings and get used to this new norm that we were facing.”
He went on to share with the show’s host that it was Sophie’s strength that helped the family pull through.
“Sophie was actually instrumental in teaching us how to do that. Her spirit, her attitude was always, she was this little baby who was always smiling and she looked at us like, ‘Why are you crying?’” he confessed. “So we figured, okay, this is what it is. This is our norm. She doesn’t know any different and it’s up to us to prepare her and equip her for this life that’s hers and make sure that she has all options and all opportunities that anyone else would have.”
Like most mothers, Nicole spoke about the great anxiety she felt for her child and her concerns for the future.
“I think Sophie is so strong, but part of the anxiety was the normal mom worrying about the future. Okay, how is this going to happen? How are we going to get to school? How do we explain to the teachers that we have to show up every 3 hours and interrupt her and get her attention and say ‘Let’s go to the bathroom?’ What about her friends? What about when she starts dating? She can’t do sleepovers. She still sleeps in a diaper. What about the questions?”
Fortunately, she’s learned to overcome her anxiety by taking everything one day at a time.
“Someone said, ‘Answer the question that’s asked.’ Meaning, don’t worry about what’s going to happen when she’s 14. If a 5-year-old classmate comes up to you and says, ‘Mrs. Kodjoe, why are you always here?’ and I say, ‘To help Sophie go to the bathroom.’That’s the answer to the question. And you know what happens? They all go, ‘okay.’ And I don’t have to put any more on it. So that was the beginning of my healing process was each day at a time.”
Check out a clip of their interview below.