Hannah

[image]hannah.jpg

Jeremy and I are so lucky that our little girl, Hannah Marie, is alive and doing so well, considering all the risks and scares we had. If it were 15 to 20 years ago, the following story would be much different.

I was in tears when we were told by our obstetrician after the 20 week scan that our unborn baby had Gastroschisis. This is where a fault in the abdominal wall of a foetus occurs at about the 8th week of pregnancy, and allows the babies insides to come outside of the abdomen. In some cases the stomach, reproductive organs, bladder, intestines and other parts of the body can come out and develop within the amniotic fluid in utero. However, we were lucky to find out that it was only the baby's intestines. After being told what to expect we were transferred to Melbourne where the rest of my antenatal care would take place. So there was a 1,000km round trip every fortnight to have a scan on the baby, and meet with obstetricians.

Initial reports were not good. We were continuously told to have an amniocentesis, which involved drawing out some amniotic fluid from my womb, to test the fluid and see what the condition of the baby was. The reason for this was so the doctors could tell if the baby was viable or not, meaning if she would survive. The doctors believed that the baby had a very high chance of a chromosomal abnormality. However, performing an amnio does carry a risk of miscarriage, and both Jeremy and I did not want to risk our baby's life, plus we believed she would be ok. We were told that we didn't know what we were doing and the baby WOULD die immediately at birth or become stillborn. But we had faith that our baby would be ok. However, after another appointment at Melbourne we were told that more complications had arisen. The baby's growth was being restricted as there wasn't enough amniotic fluid for the baby. The bowel was dilated or 'stressed'. She was too small. And the placenta was slowly giving up.

After many long weeks, I had the first pre-term labour scare at 29 weeks. There was a rushed trip to Horsham, but luckily it was only a scare and one overnight stay. Then we had another scare at 31 weeks. I was told I was in labour, and called Jeremy at work to say we were going to Melbourne. However we had to go to Horsham first. But as soon as we arrived, we were told the plane was ready to take me. Jeremy followed in the car, and after he arrived at the hospital nearly 5 hours later, we were told that I was ok. However, we couldn't go home. It would be too risky. So we made arrangements to stay with my family, and we had to wait until Hannah decided to be born. More appointments followed, and more we were told that things were getting worrying. We saw obstetricians, paedatricians and surgeons. All giving us information about what could happen, but not what was happening. No one could say how our baby was. Our last appointment with an obstetrician was very short. We were told that Hannah hadn't grown. She was now 4 weeks behind in growth. The placenta was failing. It was time to deliver. In the one breath the doctor told us that I had to be booked in for a caesarian section, as it was to risky to deliver normally, and Hannah was in breech position in the womb, which would make normal delivery impossible.

On the 10th of December we arrived at the hospital at 6am to deliver our baby. We were set back as a bed wasn't available at the Children's, but we got in, and at 10:49am Hannah Marie was born at 34 weeks gestation, weighing only 3lb 12oz, or 1698grams. She had all her small and some of her large intestine outside her body, so it was wrapped up in glad wrap to protect her bowel, and she was wrapped in a blanket and shown to her proud parents. I had to stay at the Women's, so Jeremy went with Hannah to be with her while she was connected to drips and had blood taken, and probes placed on her. After seeing me in recovery she was taken to the Children's hospital, her new home for the next month, to be stabilised and operated on.

We were always given the understanding that a silo would have to be used to slowly feed her bowel back in, but instead surgeons that evening managed to put all of it back in. It was unbelievable. Now it was just a matter of time. Hannah had drips in her arms, probes to monitor her, and her tummy was covered in bandages. And a tube in her nose to help her breathe, as well as a tube down her throat to her stomach to drain the bowels. But, 3 days after her operation, she didn't need morphine, and she was breathing by herself. Then she had tests done. She had no abnormalities. She could hear. She could see. And her tummy was recovering beautifully. The next step was to get her bowel working, and after a worrying couple of days, her bowel was working. So each day her feeding was progressively increased by 1ml per day.

She stunned doctors by how well she was doing. She was a fighter, and she was loved and supported by so many. Family and friends visited and spoke to us and were amazed by how well she was doing. At exactly one month old Hannah was transferred from the Royal Children's Hospital to Bendigo Special Care Baby Unit. She learnt how to feed orally, through breast and bottle, and after only 15 days in Bendigo we were allowed to take her home. She weighed only 5lb 2oz. She is now just over 6 months old and weighing in at 5.4kg. She's still very tiny, but perfect in every way. She has no scars from her operation at all, and you would never know by just looking at her that she ever had such a life threatening condition. I must also note that without support and donations to charities such as the Royal Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities, we would have had a more difficult time away from home. Please give when you have the chance. Hannah's story can be found on youtube called Hannah's Gastroschisis Story.

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