‘A MUM who was offered ten abortions by doctors, right up until her due date, has given birth to a healthy baby girl.
From The Sun-
Doctors repeatedly warned first-time mum Natalie Halson her unborn baby would have a poor quality of life, after the 22-week scan showed the tot had spina bifida.
The condition, which affects 1,500 pregnancies every year, means the spine and spinal cord haven’t developed properly in the womb. It can cause paralysis of the legs, bowel or urinary incontinence, and even brain damage.
But Natalie, from Manchester, decided to trust her gut instinct and go ahead with her pregnancy – welcoming 7lb 6oz Mirabelle at a Liverpool hospital on December 12.
The 29-year-old told Fabulous Digital: “I found out as much as I could and realised that there were options, I refused to give up on my baby but the medics just wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“It was so insistent even after I’d repeatedly said no but it was getting offered a termination just weeks before she was born that really upset me.
“She was a proper little person at that point, it was vile to think they just wanted me to get rid of her.
“I was offered an abortion at every appointment I had up until the day she was born – about ten times in all.
“But I am so glad I refused. Mirabelle really is a miracle.”
Doctors at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, suspected Natalie’s daughter had spina bifida at the 22-week scan – but told her to return for a specialist scan a week later.
Natalie, who works in hospitals herself as an assistant radiographer, was feeling horribly anxious and rang up the ward demanding answers.
She said: “That was when they told me that the baby had spinda bifida.
“I have no idea why they couldn’t have communicated that at the appointment, it caused me awful anxiety wondering what might be wrong.
“I broke down, I was a mess, I couldn’t stop crying.
“They made out like an abortion was my only option and explained that if I went ahead with the pregnancy my baby would be wheelchair bound and have no quality of life.
“When I got off the phone I went and did tonnes of research and found out that there were options for my little girl – I felt suddenly really angry that they’d made out I had none.
“If I’d not had that time to do my research I might have even agreed to the termination.
“I look at Mirabelle now and think ‘I wouldn’t even have known you’. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
They made out like an abortion was my only option and explained that if I went ahead with the pregnancy my baby would be wheelchair boundNatalie
Natalie fought to be transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, where a world specialist in spina bifida called Dr Jan Deprest is based, for her 23 and 26-week scans.
She said: “Mirabelle wasn’t eligible for fetal surgery because her angulation of her spine was over the cut off point.
“But there was still the option for an operation to refuse the nerves in her spine once she was born.
“It wasn’t a guaranteed fix but it was our best option.”
Ironically, aside from the worry about her daughter’s condition, Natalie had a “dream pregnancy”.
Mirabelle was born via an emergency C-section at Liverpool Women’s Hospital at 38 weeks, but was immediately whisked off to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for her spinal op.
“It was really awful not being able to see her after she was born, especially after I’d fought so hard for her, but I knew she was in the best hands,” Natalie said.
“I was desperate to be near to her and so I discharged myself less than ten hours after the C-section, against the advice of doctors, so that I could be by her side.
“They operated on Mirabelle’s spine the day after she was born, it was a horrible anxious wait as it lasted about 12 hours, but the doctors were really happy with her progress afterwards.
“They told me that they’d reattached all the nerves in her back like a zip. I was so emotional, I couldn’t stop crying.”
Spina bifida: the facts
Spina bifida is when a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
It’s a type of neural tube defect, meaning the structure which later becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord doesn’t develop or close properly.
We don’t know what causes it, but a lack of folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy is thought to be a factor.
Long-term, it can lead to problems like:
- Paralysis of the legs
- Bowel and urinary incontinence
- Loss of sensation is the skin around the legs and bottom – meaning the child could burn or scald themselves without realising
- Hydeocephalus – a build up of fluid which can cause brain damage
- Learning difficulties – although most patients will have normal levels of intelligence
Most cases are detected at the mid-pregnancy anomaly scan, offered between 18 and 21 weeks.Surgery to repair the spine will often be recommended soon after your baby is born.
After a month of visiting the newborn in hospital, when Natalie stayed in a free hotel run by Ronald McDonald House charity, she was finally allowed to take Mirabelle home.
And she’s confident her daughter will live a normal life.
“I take her swimming twice a week, she had physiotherapy, she responds to touch on her legs, so it’s all looking very positive,” she said.
“There are some days that I just want to be able to see in to the future, to see how able she’ll be but really it makes no difference to me at all.
“I love her just the same either way. I know that she’ll reach her milestones in her own time.
“I fight every day for the best life for her. I consider myself a very strong person but it’s been an incredibly tough journey.
“It’s almost put me off having other kids as it’s been such a rough time.
“But on the other hand I wanted more as soon as I saw her, she was just so gorgeous.
“I would recommend to any parents who are advised to abort that it isn’t the only option, no matter what the hospitals try and tell them.
“And always go with your gut instinct, something inside told me that my baby was going to be OK – and look at her now, she’s perfect.”
Back in May, doctors performed groundbreaking keyhole surgery on an unborn baby with spina bifida – the first op of its kind in the UK. ‘