The day everything changed...our baby's CDH diagnosis.
We arrived at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) for our highly anticipated anomaly scan at 18 weeks/5 days. This is a detailed scan during which each part of the fetal anatomy is examined to see if the baby is developing normally. As with every parent, we just wanted a healthy baby, but we were very curious to find out if the next Salkeld would be a boy or girl. A baby boy meant we could finally go through the dozens of clothes bins stored in our garage that we had put away when Brody out-grew everything and a baby girl meant we could buy new things and also give Brody the baby sister he so desired. We believe him wanting a baby sister came out of fear that he would have to share all of his toys with a baby brother.
All was going well with the ultrasound and the sonographer had pointed out our baby's heartbeat and other parts of the body including the face, hands, fingers, legs, feet, etc. It wasn't until she began looking at the baby in more detail that the room fell silent. Being that we had had numerous ultrasounds in the past with the other pregnancies, we immediately feared something was wrong. When she had completed the ultrasound, she had confirmed our thoughts and said she was worried about something. She left the room and went over her findings with the doctor. After what felt like an eternity, they returned and the doctor continued with the scan. The doctor then invited us to her office and began explaining the results.
It was then that our worst nightmare as parents came true and we were told that our baby BOY had what’s called a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). She explained that this occurs when a hole in the diaphragm muscle — the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen — fails to close during prenatal development, and the contents from the abdomen (stomach, intestines and/or liver) migrate into the chest through this hole. When the abdominal organs are in the chest, there is limited room for the lungs to grow, which prevents the lungs from developing normally. This can cause reduced blood flow to the lungs as well as asthma, gastrointestinal reflux, feeding disorders and developmental delays. About 1,600 babies are born with CDH every year in the U.S., or 1 in every 2,500 live births. She told us we would have to see a doctor who specializes in birth defects and further stated that she believed our baby had a 50/50 chance of survival after birth. Although we had listened to everything she said, we didn’t truly understand the severalty of the situation as neither of us had ever heard of CDH. We left GBMC that day faced with two options and what seemed like an impossible decision. At some point we would have to decide between terminating or continuing with the pregnancy knowing that the outcome of our baby boy would be unknown until after birth.
The drive home from GBMC that day was unbearable as we began making the numerous calls to family members trying to explain what little we knew about our baby boy’s diagnosis. When we finally arrived home, we received the biggest and best hug from the most spunky, crazy little four-year-old boy ever. Even though we had just received the most devastating news, it was then that we remembered how incredibly lucky we were to already have a very healthy and active little boy, Brody.
Later that night, I had a flashback from the previous weekend. It was Tim’s birthday that Saturday and he had decided to take his best buddy fishing as they had done several times before. A few hours after leaving, I received a picture of Brody completely drenched from head to toe and crying. When they returned home, Tim explained that he must have told Brody a thousand times “If you fall in that water, you will never go fishing with me again…”. For anyone that knows Brody, you know that he is completely obsessed with golf balls so of course instead of looking for fish in the water; he was using a stick to look for golf balls. When Tim woke up that Sunday, he had planned to sneak out early for a peaceful morning of fishing. Before he could make it out the door, Brody was up bright and early asking him what he had planned for the day and within moments, they were both off for another morning of fishing. It’s times like those that remind us of how grateful we truly are for the little boy we have already been given….