I felt sick from around 6 weeks. But not a type of sickness that I couldn’t eat, a sickness that when I felt nauseous the only thing that would help me feel better was to eat. I started eating lollies when I would feel faint. I had to keep them in my pocket at school because my sugar would drop really quickly. To this day I’m still trying to wean off the sugar. I ended up getting completely addicted.
Prior falling pregnant roughly 6 months before, I was going through a fairly rough time due to a breakup with a long term partner. I was struggling emotionally. I started running. This helped my anxiety. Falling pregnant and feeling ill, I wasn’t able to do my normal excercise & I felt completely out of control with what was happening to me. It was scary, all the changes I was going through. I really struggled with this, not being in control freaked me out but knew that my body had a plan & knew what it needed & that was to rest & eat 17 bowls of pasta a day lol.
At 10 weeks we took the “Harmony Test”. They took blood from me to determine whether we were having a boy or a girl. Also checking for any genetic conditions. We were delighted to find out we were having a little boy. They can not pick up gastrochisis through this test.
Morning sickness was in full force & it was getting harder to hide that I was pregnant at work. One of my friends was on to me. I finally came clean at 12 weeks. What a relief that was. I’m sure there were many questions running through their heads because after all I had not long ago finished a long term relationship and hadn’t really had the chance to speak about Tom. My bosses response was priceless “who is Tom?” Hahaha. Like we ever get the time at work to talk about our private lives and in reality it had only been a few months.
The night after I told everyone at work was our 12 week scan. We were beyond excited, we would be able to see our little jelly bean & his heart pumping away & that, we did. My sister came along with Tom & I, she’s one of my best friends and she is a real comfort for me.
The sonographer did the routine “il go see if these are clear enough pictures for the doctor” she took a very long time. The doctor came in & started to scan again & we started to panic. After 5 minutes the doctor put his hand on my shoulder & told us they could see an abnormality in our boy. He started giving us information but to me it was like he was speaking in a different language. It couldn’t be true, that wouldn’t happen to us, not our boy.
It became more clear what was going on when my sister asked if that was the condition where some or all of the organs grow outside of the body as she had heard of it before.
They made us an appointment at flinders medical centre to be seen the following morning. But in the mean time they were unable to give answers, no indication of the severity or even if Harry would survive. We were terrified. In what should be an exciting time for a family, it was like all of that joy was snatched away from us.
It was the night from hell. Dr. Google worked over time.
“Gastroschisis is a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button. The hole can be small or large and sometimes other organs, such as the stomach and liver, can also stick outside of the baby’s body”
What would this mean? Why does this happen? Was it something I did wrong? Are there long term affects? Is there chances of further disabilities? Is there a chance he won’t survive? The list went on.
We met with a lovely doctor at flinders medical centre in the morning. It was Tom, my mum, my sister & myself at the appointment my mum also being one of my best friends & huge comfort for me. The doctor explained it was nothing I did that caused this to happen, it is – quote “just one of those things” there is no science behind it, no reason for it, it just happens. She said they wouldnt know detail of the severity until the next scan. She did say to us that the hole in his belly was quite significant compared to the rest of his tiny little body and that was a big concern. There was a chance there could be more than just his bowel on the outside.
I sat there in silence, for some reason I froze and forgot all the questions I wanted answered. I was petrified. After Tom & my family asked a few questions I asked the rate of babies surviving this condition. She responded 90-95%. This gave us comfort. She then offered termination, I questioned why would I do that? She followed by saying we need to think about the medical side of things when baby is born & what he will have to endure. This was never an option for me. If he was to survive 1 second after being born I would fight for him.
We had to wait 3 & a half long weeks until the next scan. We came out feeling a bit of relief. The Doctor said at this stage it looked like it was just the bowel on the outside and it was looking healthy. If the bowel dialates there can be complications & babies can be extremely premature.
I struggled a little bit socially at this time. I found it hard to see friends, even family. At this stage my hormones were through the roof and I got acne on my face which made me not want to leave the house. I osilated myself, I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone, I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. Tom was an unbelievable support, knowing this was just as hard for him, he was my rock & stayed incredibly strong. People were amazing, offering so much support, even the people you wouldn’t expect it from. It helped more than I can put into words.
Time went on & we were having check ups every 3 weeks to monitor how the bowel was. The doctors were happy with how it was all going & we came out feeling positive each time.
Gastrochisis babies like to come early. Doctors don’t let gastro babies go past 37 weeks because of the chance of dilatation in the bowel. I got to 32 weeks and started to feel off, my morning sickness returned and something felt wrong. Harry wasn’t moving as much but at first I didn’t take any notice. I was told “they have less room to move around in there as time goes on” As I started to feel more uncomfortable I noticed less & less movement from Harry. I just knew within myself something wasn’t right, & on reflection I wish now that I had listened to my body & acted on it straight away. But, I waited.
It was our 34 week scan, this would be the appointment to pick a day to be induced & organise the birthing plan. A big question people always ask is “can you still give birth vaginally?” Yes, the doctors always said there is no reason why you can’t give birth naturally unless there is another medical reason.
We had the routine scan & there was a lot of fluid around Harry & he wasn’t moving as much as he had in previous scans (I knew it). We met with the doctor as usual after & he said we needed to get him out, the fluid could mean a number of things. He told me I would be induced on Friday ( it was Tuesday ) & that I would be admitted that night to be monitored. I shat myself. It was all becoming real now.
We went home, Tom picked up my favourite fettuccini from the Resturant around the corner (of course I had to eat first) We got ready for the week ahead and went back in.
They started the heart rate monitor. His heart rate was high, high enough for them to be concerned. Harry wasn’t happy. The doctor came in & wanted to scan me again.
It was 11pm & the doctor took us down the hall way where there were no patients & no staff into a little room to scan me again. It was so silent & eerie. He started to scan. 15 minutes went by & not one word. Harry wasn’t moving. I could not see any movement on the screen what so ever. I thought he was brain dead. I couldn’t speak. I built up the courage to say to the doctor “he’s not moving is he?” He responded no, but followed by saying he is showing critical signs that his brain was working. He said if his heart rate was no lower in the morning then he would be out that afternoon.
I got jabbed with steroids to help his lungs get stronger before birth. It hurt & may I add I cry when I get needles. I am a baby when it comes to sharp objects piercing my skin. It freaks me out. Tom wasn’t allowed to stay & had to go home. I went to bed. I didn’t sleep.
The morning came. His heart rate still through the roof. It was D-Day.