Meet Rhys' Mum
When I found out that I was pregnant I was a bit shocked and scared to say the least. I was a single parent with four children and at forty was thinking I was too old to start again and my biggest worry was how was I going to tell the kids?
My shock soon turned to happiness and excitement and once I had told the kids I started to enjoy being pregnant and was really looking forward to having a baby.
Everything was going well until my 22 week scan when they discovered that my wee baby had major heart defects and they detected a few other things wrong. I thought the worst and was so upset, I could hardly drive home. They hadn’t told me what I should do just to go home and think about what I wanted to do and then phone the doctor back. I was asked if I wanted to leave by the back door which I did, feeling very scared and alone.
When I got my head around things in a day or two I rang and made an appointment with the doctor who had told me the news. I went to see her at Craigavon Area Hospital and she gave me Doctor Casey’s number the Heart Consultant. I also asked her then if she would scan me and tell me what I was having. I never knew with any of my other children but things were different this time. I found out I was having a little boy.
The time came for my appointment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast with Dr Casey, he scanned me and told me what was wrong with my baby and what all could be done to help him. It was such a relief; I was told my baby would have an operation when he was about 6 months old.
I attended Dr Casey every month and then on 18th February 2009 in The Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital baby Rhys was born, weighing 7lb 8ozs by Caesarean Section because he was breach. But another shock was to come, apart from Rhys having Down’s syndrome he was born with his right hand missing. I couldn’t take anymore and I passed out!
When I came round I was very sick but still got to hold, kiss and breastfeed (with help) my wee man. He was then taken to Intensive Care for five days and then on the sixth day he allowed back on the ward with me. We both got discharged together two days later. It was so good to get home even though we both had been looked after so well at the hospital by the kind and caring nurses and doctors.
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Rhys done great at home and he breastfed well, gained weight and never showed any signs of being sick. On 2nd August 2009 we went to Clark Clinic in the Royal where Rhys had open heart surgery to repair an Atria Ventricular Septal Defect (A.V.S.D). After six long hours I was told that I could see him. I had looked at photos at Clark Clinic to prepare myself for what Rhys was going to look like in Intensive Care with all the machines and wires etc. This was a good help. He had done so well and the operation had been a success, Rhys recovered quickly and after one week we were allowed to go home. We had to attend outpatients at the Royal every two months; little did I know we were soon to return!
Rhys developed “aortic stenosis” (narrowing in and around the aortic valve) meaning that his heart had to work harder. This was discovered at the check-up and it was seen to be getting worse. We had to go back for more surgery. On 18th December 2010 we arrived at Clark Clinic and Rhys had further open heart surgery and after another six long hours I got to see him. He was such a fighter, and a good, brave boy. He recovered so well and we were allowed to go home on Christmas Day 2010.
We just live life day to day and whatever happens we always get through it. I have good support from my kids, health visitor and the Down’s & Proud Group. I wouldn’t be without Rhys he is so loved and is such a happy and well behaved wee boy.