Gastroschisis. Seems like a scary word, doesn't it? It was even scarier than you can imagine when we first heard the word in January, 2005. I was 21 weeks pregnant and my husband and I were full of excitement. Then there it was–that word–Gastroschisis, which is a somewhat rare (although becoming more and more common by the day) congenital birth defect where the baby's abdomen has failed to completely close over the intestines, thereby leaving them and possibly other organs exposed and even external. We weren't sure how to take the news. Suddenly our excitement had turned to concern and worry over our little one.
Over the months, we learned a lot more about the condition and knew that it wasn't as horrible as it had originally sounded. It did involve an immediate surgery, followed by a lengthy recovery period in Intensive Care, and that is difficult. However, it isn't an inheritable condition and it is corrected by a single surgery in most cases. We monitored our baby by monthly ultrasounds and two visits per week to the OB for fetal monitoring, and through this, she was showing very positive signs. Although the extent of the condition is impossible to detect until birth, our little girl was doing great! She was big and healthy and moved constantly! Her delivery was determined to be a planned C-section on June 10, 2005. We held our breath and waited to see what was to come.
On May 22, I noticed she wasn't moving around as animatedly as she always did. I was concerned, but thought I might have been overreacting. I used my monitoring device to make sure the heartbeat was detectable, and it was, so I just relaxed. Finally, by 9 PM that evening, she still hadn't really moved, so I called my OB and was told to head into the hospital for examination. When we arrived, we were quite shocked to discover I was having full-scale contractions four minutes apart and was dilated to four centimeters! I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, so I wasn't even aware of what was going on. I was admitted and it was determined that the baby was going to be delivered by C-section first thing the following morning. At 8:53 AM on May 23, 2005, our little Ava came into the world weighing six pounds, two ounces, with her big blue eyes taking everything in!
She was immediately taken to the Pediatric Surgeons and was in surgery two hours after her birth. Her father and I waited in my hospital room on edge and I refused to sleep until I knew how everything went. Finally, her surgeon emerged and gave us the wonderful news that Ava had been entirely closed up and was doing wonderfully! Now began her recovery process, and this was the part we were most worried about. Most Gastroschisis babies are in NICU for a minimum of six to nine weeks. I am very happy to report that my little munchkin was a fighter and stayed for only 18 days. She healed so fast even the doctors were amazed. It was difficult leaving the hospital without her, but I was visiting her faithfully every day. I couldn't wait to hold her with no tubes or wires or monitors attached to her; I couldn't wait to put her on the bed and kiss her little toes.
Now she is home and doing wonderfully! She is five weeks old and weighs eight pounds. She eats like a little piggy, poops constantly, and smiles up a storm! There have been challenges in her short little life, but she has amazed and inspired me by her strength. Who would've thought such a small little creature could be so resilient. We are blessed beyond words and Ava Jordyn is home, healthy and happy!