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Isabella’s Journey

After a very long 36 hour labour, Isabella was finally born on Saturday 18th June 2016 at 1.05pm. Everything all seemedperfect, we finally had our beautiful little girl, who knew that this was about to change! The day after Isabella was born the ‘baby checks’ were carried out and the midwife was pretty sure she had heard a heart murmur but wasn’t 100% sure. Themidwife advised us Isabella would need be checked by a Paediatrician, and was done so a few hours later. We were told by the Paediatrician that she couldn’t hear anything, but because it had been raised she would ask another Paediatrician to check her over.

On the Monday a different Paediatrician came to speak to us and checked over Isabella and advised us she could not feel her femoral pulses. She asked for our permission to take her to neonatal where she could monitor Isabella and carry out some more observations and checks, in which we agreed. An hour had passed and we had still not heard what was wrong with our daughter . Poor Chris was running backwards and forwards between the two of us. Eventually I managed to walk round to see Isabella and we were advised by the paediatrician that she would need to be kept in over night for further observations, checks and for a Consultant from Southampton General Hospital to scan her heart the following morning. An hour or so later we were then advised there was a bed available at Southampton for Isabella and she would be transferred there that day by ambulance. Isabella had a cannula put in both her hands and was given a drug call Prostin, that would keep the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) open whilst she was transferred to Southampton. Unfortunately as there would be a Doctor and a Nurse in the ambulance we were not allowed to travel with her. As you can imagine were distraught. We could not believe what we were hearing! How could there be anything wrong with our beautiful new baby girl.

We followed down and arrived at Southampton General hospital around 9.30pm that Monday evening, and worked our way through to E1 Ocean Ward. We were not prepared for what we were about to see and hear. Isabella was fully wired up to big beeping machines, that were monitoring her SATs levels, her heart and continued to give her the Prostin drug. A Cardiologist came to speak to us where he explained Isabella’s heart problems. They were 99% sure she had Coarctation of the Aorta (COA), a small hole (VSD) and Patent DuctusArteriosus (PDA). My heart sunk and couldn’t believe what we were hearing and I started questioning myself, was it something I had done when I was carrying her. But no, I was advised it was nothing I had done nor anyone could have doneto prevent it, it was just one of those things and the way she way made. 

Over the next few days Isabella had an Echo Scan carried out every 12 hours, to confirm the diagnostic. By the Friday we were advised this was the case and there was a very high possibility she would need surgery. A CT scan was carried out on the morning of Monday 27th June and within an hour of being back on Ocean Ward we were advised Isabella would be having surgery…….first thing tomorrow morning. This was when it finally hit home that our little girl was going to be cuton her beautiful soft skin, but we knew she was in the best hands and it needed to be done.

7.30am on Tuesday 28th June arrived and at 10 days Isabella was being prepped for heart surgery. We took her down to theatre where we handed her over to the anaesthetist. The hardest thing we have ever had to do, was pass our daughter to someone else to save her life. There are no words that can describe how we were feeling. For what seemed like hours, around midday we received a call from the ward to advised the surgery was complete and the surgeon wanted to speak to us. To this we rushed back to the ward where we met with the surgeon who advised us the surgery was successful. The narrowing was removed her aorta and the Ductus Arteriosuswas removed. Isabella was taken to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where she had one to one care. She was on a ventilator and drugs to ease the pain. Here she was monitored for 48 hours and was then transferred back to Ocean Ward. This was then we saw Isabella’s scar, which looked huge compared to how small she was. However it was so neat and were so pleased she was ok. We knew that in years to come the scar would be tiny and this would be a story for her to tell.
After spending just under 3 weeks, Saturday 2nd July came and Isabella was eventually allowed home. We were so excited to finally take our baby girl home.

The staff on Ocean Ward really are incredible. Their hard work, compassion and their quick thinking, enabled us to cope better, grow as parents and taught me that it was ok to grieve. We will always be forever grateful to the work they have done and continue to do now with our regular visits and ongoing care for Isabella.

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