Robert De Niro’s partner was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy after giving birth

Robert De Niro’s partner Tiffany Chen has revealed that she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy after giving birth in April.

Chen opened up about the postpartum health complication in an interview with CBS Morning host Gayle King, who revealed the child’s name and first photo in May after getting the runaround from the Oscar-winning actor.

On Friday (July 14), newborn Gia Virginia Chen De Niro, made her TV debut.

Chen said that despite a “really easy” pregnancy with De Niro’s seventh child, “everything started to fall into place” after her C-section delivery.

The martial arts instructor also described his face as “melting into itself”.

After giving birth, she felt a sharp pain behind her ear and noticed that her face “looked weird”.

Doctors initially told her the symptoms were likely the result of fluid build-up after giving birth, but the symptoms worsened when she got home.

His tongue felt strange, “a little tingly, starting to go a little numb,” and within a week he was readmitted to the hospital.

“I lost all facial function the moment I went to the hospital. And the one thing that threw everything off was that it was completely symmetrical how everything collapsed and how everything didn’t work,” he said.

The athlete’s MRI showed that he had Bell’s palsy, a neurological disorder that causes severe muscle weakness or paralysis of the face.

The condition usually affects one side of the face. It can be temporary and tends to resolve on its own or with some treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Chen said “everything fell off”, including his lower lip, making it difficult for him to speak or make any facial expressions. And the palsy affected both sides of his face, which is rare.

“I got to the point where it was just hanging on and I had to hold on to it,” he said. “And to talk, I have to hold my chin and I have to manipulate my lower lip to make certain sounds. I can’t say ‘Bob’.”

Although his symptoms have improved, some self-issues remain, including his inability to smile at Gia.

“I couldn’t give her kisses. That’s what made me self-conscious,” said Chen, later adding, “The thing I did worry about is, ‘What if it doesn’t get better?’ Is my child going to be laughed at for having a strange mother? That’s the only time, I guess, vanity comes into play. That’s how it affects the child.”

Chen was frustrated by the negative commentary focused on his appearance after the initial headlines about De Niro’s age at Gia’s birth subsided. (De Niro is 79 and has six other children.)

“I was like, ‘Mind your own business a bit. And if you want to say something, don’t always attach what you think in your mind as the story. You don’t know us. You don’t know what happened in one’s life’,” Chen said.

“People were saying all kinds of nasty things about, you know, how I looked and I was mad. And I was like, ‘This is, like, the happiest time of my life’.”

The comments also encouraged Chen to share her story to be an ally to other women who are similarly criticized.

Chen, who met De Niro when he played his tai chi instructor in his 2015 comedy The InternHe said he was sweet and supportive throughout the ordeal.

“(De Niro) tried to say he saw no difference, he saw no change,” laughs Chen.

“He was like ‘No…. You look fine.’ He was like, ‘You might look harsh.’ And like ‘Really?’ My whole face melted into myself. But he was very strong, very supportive.”

Chen’s disclosure came amid news that a woman who allegedly sold fentanyl-laced pills to De Niro’s 19-year-old grandson Leandro had been arrested. Leandro died earlier this month, but no cause of death was given at the time. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service


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