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Charlie
Of course I can spell my name!

Having been desperate to have a child for the best part of twelve years and previously having IVF to assist a pregnancy some three years earlier you can imagine how totally shocked and delighted I was when I discovered on June 29th. 2004 that I was being given the chance to finally become a Mum. I went for my routine booking in scan at 14 weeks when the sonographer said it looked like my baby had a hernia. I was given an appointment for the next available clinic where I was informed that the baby I was carrying had a condition called Gastroschisis.

I had my sister with me at the time so she could take in the information as I knew I would find it very difficult to concentrate. I was told it was the small bowel and it would be corrected the day of delivery. I tried so hard to be positive and brave, as everyone around me tried to make me feel it was not that serious, but underneath the face of courage lay a heart crying for her unborn child. I was scanned very frequently at my local hospital (Arrowe Park on the Wirral) where I saw the same consultant every time. Her name was Mrs Green, she always gave me such hope that all would be OK, she told me his bowel was behaving beautifully. It showed good peristalsis which was a good sign. At 28 weeks I started to bleed and was admitted for a few days. I had many scans which would not throw any light on why this was happening. That drive to the hospital was terrifying, I was convinced the baby was on his way and at 28 weeks would have struggled with the existing problem.

From 28 weeks I was scanned every week, there was very little difference in the way the bowel was behaving so Mrs Green was happy to leave things as they were. From 32 weeks the bowel started to show slight dilatation which again I had been warned about. It was then decided that once I got to 34 weeks they would deliver him. I knew I would end up having him early, but nothing actually prepares you for those words. At 33 weeks I noticed a significant reduction in the movement of the baby, at this point I was told that if the baby was not happy he would move less. I would sit and concentrate in a quiet room praying for him to start kicking me again but his activity became less and less. On Friday 14th January 05 I was told he would be delivered by caesarean section the following Tuesday. I remember driving home alone unable to think of little else, I was excited at the prospect of becoming a mum but also terrified that he would not make it.

Charlie
Is this my colour Mum!

 

That very same day I had an appointment with the surgeon who would be performing the operation on my new born, he gave me his honest opinion, I was not ready for such! Anyway that evening I had to return to the hospital for my first steroid injection and then approx 12 hours later I went back for my 2nd and final one. Delivery day arrived and I was taken to theatre where my spinal block was administered. I was so scared I could hardly breathe. Will, my partner came in once everything was in place, He counted 17 people who were present in theatre, so naturally the reality hit him quite hard! Approximately ten minutes after the first incision Charlie was delivered. He screamed the place down! Hearing him cry was such a relief. Almost immediately he had a tube down his throat to empty the contents out of his tummy. It was only a tiny one and he did not seem to even be aware of it. They wheeled him over and told us he weighed 4lb 6oz.

Within seconds he was in SCBU awaiting his transfer to Alderhey Childrens Hospital in Liverpool. Will went to see him, He took a few photos and a bit of video footage so I could see what he looked like. Later that afternoon I got a call from Alderhey to say that some of the bowel had died and would have to be removed. They advised me a Stoma bag may have to be fitted to give the bowel a rest. Having had a Nephew who had needed a colostomy when only a few days old I felt I could not cope with Charlie having something similar, even though it would only have been a temporary measure. Some time later that evening Will took a call from Alderhey informing us that Charlie's operation had gone very well. He had only lost 2-3cm of his bowel and they were able to do a primary closure.

He spent the next two nights in Intensive Care, then on the Thursday he was transferred to the Neo Natal Surgical Unit. They were just getting him settled in when Will and I came to see him. He was off the ventilator and sleeping peacefully. That's when I put my hand in his incubator and stroked his soft,tiny cheek with my trembling finger. That was when I felt like a Mum!! We stayed a couple of hours, but still being a patient in a Hospital some Eight miles away we said our goodbyes and back to Hospital I went. The following day I was discharged so I spent all day from 9am till 10pm at his bedside. On the Sunday 23rd January (5 days old) we arrived to be informed that he was ready to try some expressed milk….I was so excited!! They started him off on 5mls every Four hours, but after a day or so they were stopped due to the aspirations that they were draining from his stomach. Basically the food was not going anywhere as he was not yet pooing. The next few days they did rectal and gastric washes which certainly got things moving! I never thought I could feel so elated at the sight of a soiled nappy.

He then started to tolerate his feeds very well and was having them increased by 5/10 mls a day. Once he got to 75mls every Four hours we were told we could take him home. On Sunday 6th February his TPN was disconnected. I was told to bath him which was rather daunting. He was still so tiny but yet so strong. On Tuesday 8th February we took him home. Exactly 3 weeks after he was born. He happily took 90 mls every Four hours and has continued to go from strength to strength. However he has been very slow to wean but each baby is different. He is now coming up to 8 months old and has a fantastic appetite. He has no special diet, and after a slow start is well on the way to being a real little "Podge".

I felt it was important for me to tell my story if only to put some minds at rest. Don't get me wrong I am a born worrier and with every high temperature I worry its something related to his problem at birth, but as my GP tells me, All babies get unwell from time to time and Charlie is no different. He bears a small scar on his tummy which the surgeon may want to tidy up in a year or so, but certainly for the time being we are just having lots of fun and trying to put it all behind us. I now look back and wonder how I coped? But you do….u always do.

Charlie
Happy Halloween!