Appon's Thai Life

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Nappy Happy

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It's been a hectic few months. First was the IVF treatments in Phuket. For this I recommend Dr Manop of SAFE Fertility Clinic, who runs a specialist fertility unit near the center of the island (CCM building diagonally opposite Tescos on the bypass road). I researched clinics and his has a high success rate.

Then there was the ultrasound scan showing an bulge in her stomach at week 12.

Then there was the dash to Bangkok to get an amniocentesis, a chromosome check for Downs Syndrome, and other genetic defects, and find a good cheap hospital to deliver and treat the baby. I chose Piyavate Hospital in Bangkok. I carefully researched the available hospitals to find one I could afford that had access to the necessary specialist surgeons. Piyavate was popular among Thai reviewers.

The chromosome check was clear, normal baby girl.

As the scans went on, it was clearer. An omphalocele, a failure of the organs to pull back into the stomach as the stomach wall closes up. A blood flow scan showed the liver was growing outside her body, in a swelling where the umbilical cord attaches to the baby.

A C-Section was planned for week 38. They don't dare risk contractions for babies with this defect, so it cannot be left to full term. At week 36 I had a hormone injection to ensure her lungs would be fully developed.

She's been running her hands down the inside of my stomach. I think this injection grew her nails too quickly, she punctured the sack and I lost a lot of amniotic fluid! The baby had to be delivered at week 37, slightly early.

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The specialist surgeon checked her that night, the hospital pediatric specialists agreed, the cardiac specialist gave the OK to operate, check check check and she was cleared for surgery the next day. He said the omphalocele was about the size of the cavity, so it could be done in one operation. Her liver would be put back inside, and the wound sutured. After that she'd be on a ventilator and fed intraveonously for a few days. The ventilator helps her breath against the increased pressure from all the new organs in her chest. The surgeon reassures me, babies can take the extra pressure for a few days, no problem.

It all went to plan, she had an operation, was on the ventilator for the next 4 days, and an oxygen tent for a few days more. I think she recovered from her operation earlier than I recovered from my C-section stiches!

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While she was having her operations, the nurses helped me, painfully, extract the first breast milk, colostrun, the milk that's full of antibodies, into two syringes. These would be kept frozen, and fed to her when she can take milk. Every drop, by painful drop, had to be squeezed out of me. Nobody tells you the gruesome details of breast feeding until you're there, in a room with a sadistic nurse, who loves babies more than mothers!

Step by step, each hurdle was jumped. They moved her off the ventilator, and removed the suction to her stomach. When she was being fed by needle, they suck away the stomach juices to stop her choking on her own stomach acid.

Then she was on a feeding tube. The nurse would pull out the stomach contents into a syringe, see how much extra to feed her, and pump it all back in. I think all children should be fitted with these tubes, its so much easier than feeding by mouth! But this tube too would go soon.

She'd be kept for another week, moving to a bottle, and then to breast feeding. This is my first baby, and I would spend three days with the nurses at the hospital learning how to clean feed and handle a baby.

I booked one of the suites upstairs, and spent my evenings visiting nearby Show DC mall and catching a show. My baby doesn't know it yet, but she is going to do so many new things, and see so many new places! No sitting at home quietly in from of the television for her!

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Here in the photo, she's barely 3 weeks old. She'd made such an amazing recovery, and she's such an easy baby to handle. I am so lucky and so happy.

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