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
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.
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
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