Sophie Peterson and Josh McCullough are preparing for a baby boy who will need an operation soon after he is born, Rachael Comer reports.
Sophie Peterson and Josh McCullough are preparing for their first baby, and heart surgery.
The Timaru couple, both 19, are expecting a baby boy in about seven weeks; child who will be born with the same heart condition Peterson has, meaning he will require open heart surgery within 24 hours of birth.
While the prospect is a scary one, the couple say they are in good hands and are excited about welcoming their son - a child they never thought they could have,
‘‘Due to all the medications I was on as a heart baby I was always told I wouldn’t be able to have children,’’ Peterson said.
‘‘It was a real shock when we found out I was pregnant. Miracles do happen.’’
Peterson’s heart condition meant her pregnancy had been closely monitored at Timaru and Christchurch hospitals.
During a regular scan it was discovered her baby had the same condition as her.
The normal aorta should have a 3mm gap. The couple’s child has a 1.7mm gap restricting blood flow in and out of the heart.
The pair said this would need to be surgically fixed through open heart surgery.
Peterson will travel to Auckland hospital at 37 weeks pregnant and be monitored in the lead up to delivery.
‘‘If I go over they will induce me,’’ she said.
‘‘It is very daunting but we know we are in the best possible care.’’
Peterson is using her own experiences as a comfort during her pregnancy.
‘‘I had the exact same thing as my baby when I was born but they didn’t know what I had until I was five weeks old,’’ she said.
‘‘I was flown up to Auckland, from Timaru, a few hours later.
‘‘I was tube-fed for a few years and monitored by Auckland hospital until I was 13.’’
Peterson said when she had discovered she was pregnant she had known there would be a possibility her child would also have a heart condition.
‘‘It’s scary as I know what I went through but 19 years later, look at the science and what can be done.’’
Not being able to hold her baby straight away was something Peterson said she wasn’t looking forward to.
‘‘It’s quite daunting to know as soon as the baby is born we won’t do the normal things like hold him straight away.’’
The family could be in Auckland for up to three months, depending on the baby’s health, they said.
McCullough works for New Zealand Pet Foods. He praised his employers who had been ‘‘amazing’’.
‘‘They have been very supportive,’’ he said.
Peterson said the couple had met at a party as 16-year-olds and had bought their first home when she fell pregnant.
Peterson’s sister Chloe Gibson has set up a Givealittle page (support-for-heart-babys-family) for the couple.
Heart Kids South Canterbury family support and secretary Nicky Merritt said 80 families with heart children in the region were supported by the group.
She would be happy to hear from Peterson and McCullough in the lead up to their child’s birth.
The group offered emotional and financial support to families.
‘‘We visit the families in their homes and hospital and have school holiday get togethers,’’ Merritt said.
Members knew the worry having a child with heart conditions could bring on a family, she said.