No one ever said motherhood was easy, but it becomes more challenging when a child is ill — a struggle Bachelor alum Shawntel Newton knows all too well.
The reality TV personality, who gained recognition on Brad Womack’s season of The Bachelor in 2010, opened up about how her son Leo’s birthmark was mistaken for measles when the 6-month-old actually suffers from Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS).
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the rare medical condition is specified as having a port-wine stain birthmark across the forehead and upper eyelid. Symptoms of SWS include seizures, which start in infancy, and developmental delays.
“It can be a struggle when I am out with Leo after he has had laser treatment and people will stare and wonder what is on his face,” Newton shared with Fox News in an interview published Monday, May 13. “The treatment makes his birthmark darker and there are red blotches on his face. One time, I had someone ask me if he had the measles. I cried after that comment. I try and understand that to most people he does look a little different but it’s hard on a mommy’s heart to hear things like that.”
Newton is also a mother Anthony, 2, with husband Paolo Poidmore. She tied the knot with her orthodontist spouse in May 2013.
Moments after welcoming Leo in October 2018, doctors informed the couple their son had a large mark on his face. When the infant was brought over to her, Newton recalled “half of his face” being “very purple.” Leo was later diagnosed with SWS.
The former funeral director last opened up about coming to terms with Leo’s health condition in April. At the time, she addressed how she is learning “dismiss the stares” after her son undergoes treatment.
“After a laser treatment Leo has a lot of bruises and it’s normal for people to wonder & even question what happen,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s funny because my prayer has always been for Leo to have confidence one day about all this and lately it’s been for ME to have the confidence.”
Added Newton: “My first reaction is very VERY mama bear and can come off defensive. I immediately take offense to the questions. I need to be better at not reacting and respond loving and understand MOST of the time the questions are innocent and not harmful.”
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