As you might have noticed Benthe (@menswearmeisje) and I are expecting a little boy in December. On top of that you will have seen that we visit the hospital quite often. Soon after we learned, 12 weeks and six day in, that Benthe was pregnant we also heard that there was a so called ‘defect with the baby’. In short, this is our story.
We are getting a son. And our son will be born with gastroschisis. This means that there’s a belly defect; an opening next to the belly button allowing part of the intestines to ‘escape’ from inside the belly and moving freely in the amniotic water. Gastroschisis appears in 0,05 % of all child births. There's no significant 'reason' for this defect; it's just a 'building mistake'. Because of the amazing skills of the medical teams that work with us we have tremendous faith in a perfect result. Due to this condition, our boy will be born after 37 weeks (instead of 40).
After our son’s birth ,he will be in surgery within the first six hours of his life. During the procedure, the doctors will place as much of the intestines back inside the belly as soon as possible. Depending on the actual size of his belly and the opening they might, in the most positive of situations, be able to do so in one go. Relying on the chances that this will not be possible, the intestines that ‘won’t fit ’will be placed in a ‘squeeze bag’ on top of his belly. During the following days, they will slowly squeeze back the intestines by applying pressure to this bag. Obviously he will spend the first days or weeks inside the V.U. Medical Center.
There are two sides to the danger of this condition. First of all there’s a chance of having multiple organs outside of the belly (likethe stomach, blather, liver), but we are fortunate that in our case it’s just part of the intestines. The second danger is the intestines getting infected during the pregnancy. You can imagine that laying outside the belly the intestines are more vulnerable to any kind of bacteria et cetera. But thus far, with all the ultrasounds we experienced, our boys intestines still look very healthy, fresh and, very important, they move just like they should!
After the defect was noticed by our midwifery, Onder de Linde, during our first visit in June we were immediately send to the V.U. Medical Center in Amsterdam. Experiencing a ‘medical pregnancy’ is obviously different, but the amazing team allowed us to appreciate every moment of the past five months.
The process started with an ultrasound every two weeks, completely reviewing every part of the baby.The past two months this changed into weekly ultrasounds. The fact that this requires time and energy never adds up to the amazing feeling you get from being able to see the baby every week and get a confirmation he’s doing perfectly fine every single time! Since the beginning of the 35th week Benthe has to have a daily CTG-scan measuring the baby’s heartbeat. So far those have been perfectly well. This set up is based on the Flamingo-procedure.
During the ultrasounds, they look at the general growth of the baby’s head, belly and legs; they make sure heartbeat is okay and they check conditions of the blood vessels inside the brain, the heart and the belly. After every ultrasound, we enjoyed a consult with one of the specialists time keeping track of the baby’s data. During these short meetings, the doctors show amazing interest in the psychological side of the process and take good care of Benthe.
The precautions the doctors take can be even frustrating sometimes. Like the first time Benthe had to do a CTG inside the hospital on a Saturday morning. The outcome of the data showed signs of Benthe having some contractions alarming a huge team of doctors.In the end we spent four extra hours in the hospital with Benthe going through all kinds of checkups and me staying in touch with friends and family who had been waiting in a Haarlem café for hours for the baby shower. I was happy to drop her off at the end of the day, because the signs of contractions were just the result of her body reacting to the kicking baby.
It’s important to know that in general this condition that has no further effect on the rest of our boy’s life except for a small scar next to his belly button. He will have some troubles with food the first days or weeks – depending on the seriousness of the defect -, but other than that, with a bit of good fortune, he’s going to be a healthy young fellow!
We are so grateful for all the support we have experienced from family and friends. And very happy with the amazing skills of all the professional teams at the V.U. Medical Center. We’re looking forward to the upcoming days and hope Benthe and I can still spend a bit of time at home before we move into the hospital Friday December 8th. That’s the day when they will start inducing labour. We can’t wait to hold that little one in our arms! It has a been an amazing experience until this stage and we are super proud our little legend is performing much better than we and the doctors expected at first. It's not an easy pregnancy, but it sure is special!
Thanks for your support!
If we can be of any help with your kid with the same or similar conditions, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com
Left image: an illustration of a child born with gastroschisis just after birth;
Right image: an illustration of a bag and how they apply pressure to the intestines inside the bag to slowly place them back inside the belly.