As 2016 slowly draws to a close…I like to reflect and take stock of my life.
I have so much to be grateful for and I always make sure that within my heart I cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
For some people like me it’s been a really tough year. Whatever the case may be, I just want to encourage you..
Let me take you on a little journey into my personal life. Step into my world…
Being a mum to my two beautiful children is something kinda wonderful. Does it come with challenges? You bet it does!
My journey to becoming a mum hasn’t been easy. Before I had my son Josiah, I had 2 miscarriages which devastated me. But I perserved and welcoming my first child into this world in 2010 brought me incredible joy.
Being pregnant with my second child came with a whole new set of challenges.
During my 20 week scan, I was told they couldn’t see her bladder and later informed that her bladder was on the outside. Say what!!! I couldn’t wrap my head around that.
It was later explained to me that my baby had bladder exstrophy. Bladder exstrophy occurs in 1 in every 40,000 births, affecting 2 to 3 times more boys than girls.
Exstrophy means ‘turned inside out’. Bladder exstrophy is a congenital abnormality of the bladder which happens when the skin over the lower abdominal wall (bottom part of the tummy) does not form properly, so the bladder is open and exposed on the outside of the abdomen.
It was sugggested by the doctor that I have an abortion as this condition was a severe congenital abnormality. That was not an option for me personally. I was going to see this through.
I was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital where I met with the Urology Consultant. He was very reassuring, he has over 25 years experience. He explained she would have a series of operations over the first few years of her life. .
Annaliese was born in January 2013, it was a super fast delivery, the girl was like ‘let me out’!
She had her first surgery 3 days after birth to close the bladder and abdominal wall, so that the bladder is now inside the body and in the correct position. She had a number of catheters to help drain urine from the bladder.
Bladder exstrophy comes with a series of problems which include:
- Problems with the neck of the bladder and sphincter (ring of muscle that squeezes and relaxes to let urine flow from the bladder)
- The bladder has a smaller capacity than usual, so cannot hold much urine
- The ureters join the bladder in a different place to normal
- The middle part of the pelvic bones are separated
We spent a month in hospital and it was hard for me. For my fellow mums out there, you know how hard it is after giving birth, your hormones are all over the place etc.
We spent the next 2 years back and forth in hospital for follow-ups.
People always ask me how I cope. The only answer I have is my faith in God!
Her next surgery was in June this year and it involved a procedure called ‘Kelly’.
The Kelly procedure (also called a soft tissue reconstruction of the bladder neck) uses existing muscle and soft tissue to create a ring of muscle that acts like a sphincter. This holds urine in the bladder allowing it to stretch and gain more capacity and also helps form a strong stream of urine when weeing.
During the same operation, her ureters were also re-implanted within the bladder as she suffered from ureteric reflux (which causes the urine to flow backwards as far as the kidneys which could damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure)
I dreaded going back to hospital and I’ll tell you now I cried and cried…while she was in surgery. Thank God it went well.
We spent 8 days in hospital and after we got home, the road to recovery was long and painful! As a mum I felt completely helpless seeing my little girl in pain and there was literally nothing I could do.
But my girl is a fighter, seriously most days I just take one look at her and find strength to carry on.
The surgeon also created a tummy button (omphaloplasty) during the same operation.
She still has further challenges down the road, but we’re taking one day at a time.
To all my fellow parents and soon to be parents be encouraged. Parenthood can be the most exhausting job on the planet. Savour each moment, be fully engaged and give it your all and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is important to have a good support system.
Show up for your kids and encourage your kids….kids thrive on encouragement.
I hope this post has helped someone somewhere.
Thank you for reading.