against all odds

Given a ter­ri­fy­ing di­ag­no­sis while preg­nant, Car­lynne Ed­mis­ton, 26, from Greenock, re­fused to give up hope

Pick Me Up! - - BIG HEALTH STORY -

Iwas a bag of nerves as I walked into the hospi­tal. It was De­cem­ber 2017, the day af­ter my 20-week scan, but in­stead of feel­ing ex­cited, I was ter­ri­fied. The sono­g­ra­pher hadn’t been able to lo­cate part of the baby’s brain that re­ceives mes­sages from the spinal cord, so we’d been told to come back the next day.

But with a re­cent mis­car­riage, I couldn’t help but worry that the past was re­peat­ing it­self.

My hus­band Paul, 36, and I held each other’s hands as the con­sul­tant sat us down.

‘Your baby has spina bi­fida and fluid on her brain,’ he told us.

We sat in shocked si­lence as he ex­plained that there was a gap in her spine where it hadn’t de­vel­oped prop­erly.

My head was swim­ming as his words washed over me in a sick­en­ing wave.

Paral­y­sis, dis­abil­i­ties, no blad­der or bowel con­trol, brain dam­age, low qual­ity of life...

All dev­as­tat­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for our baby’s fu­ture.

I was re­ferred for an­other ul­tra­sound at the Foetal Medicine unit at Queen El­iz­a­beth Hospi­tal in Glas­gow, but it was suggested that Paul and I con­sider ter­mi­nat­ing the preg­nancy.

Yet I could still feel her mov­ing and kick­ing... How could we give up on her?

‘Well, she will never be short of love and care,’ I told Paul.

‘She’s worth the chance,’ he agreed.

The next day, medics ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion wasn’t as dire as we’d ini­tially thought.

‘The le­sion on her spine is in a treat­able po­si­tion,’ a doc­tor said. And we were told that the level of fluid in her brain could pos­si­bly be treated with a shunt af­ter she was born.

She’d also need surgery to cor­rect the gap in her spine.

‘There’s hope!’ I sobbed with joy.

Even though the out­look seemed brighter, the rest of my preg­nancy was plagued by anx­i­ety.

I had scans ev­ery few weeks, and doc­tors as­sured us that ev­ery pre­cau­tion would be taken dur­ing the labour.

On 23 April 2018, lit­tle Zoe ar­rived safely, weigh­ing 6lb 4oz.

She was whisked to the Neona­tal unit, where I was able to care­fully hold her in my arms shortly af­ter.

‘She’s beau­ti­ful!’ cooed Paul. ‘And she looks just like you, as well,’ I smiled, gaz­ing into her blue eyes.

At 2 days old, Zoe was taken into theatre to close the gap in her spine.

Paul and I waited anx­iously for nine hours, un­til a sur­geon emerged to tell us that the op had been a huge suc­cess.

But Zoe still had to re­main in hospi­tal so doc­tors could see how her symp­toms would man­i­fest.

So that we could be close to her, Paul and I stayed at Ronald Mcdon­ald House, and spoke with vol­un­teers from Bliss, a char­ity for ba­bies born pre­ma­ture or sick.

They even brought us lit­tle gift bags of toys and baby books.

At 7 days old, a per­ma­nent shunt was placed in Zoe’s head to drain the fluid – and two weeks on, we brought her home.

Now 7 months old, she’s such a happy lit­tle girl.

She can’t empty her blad­der on her own, so we need to catheterise her five times a day.

As Zoe grows older, she may show more symp­toms of spina bi­fida – but we’ll just have to wait and see...

Still, she’s meet­ing her mile­stones, and doc­tors are con­fi­dent that she’ll be able to stand and walk.

With our love and sup­port, I know our girl will keep prov­ing every­one wrong. Visit bliss.org.uk to find out more

Our lit­tle smiler!

Me and Paul with baby Zoe

Zoe’s scar from the op

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