Jemma’s Story

February 13, 2012

After having our Daughter Tia, me and my partner Chris decided to have another baby. It was a big decision as my first pregnancy was tough. I suffered with OC, a rare liver condition brought on by pregnancy hormones. This condition plays havoc with your bile acids, and liver function pregnancy hormones make your body produce excess bile that can then leak into the blood stream. If the bile was to pass through to the placenta it could harm the baby, and if untreated it could result in stillbirth. Time went by and everything went fine at my twelve week scan, but as it was drawing nearer to my 20 week scan I had a feeling something might be wrong. I even confided in a work colleague she reassured me everything would be fine, but I knew something was not quite right.

The day arrived and we all got in the car and travelled the 45 minutes to the hospital. That uneasy feeling was still there, so I was very nervous. We were called in to the scan room and I lay on the bed. I was hoping to be in and out but our ‘Spud’ as we nicknamed him was not playing ball! So we had to go and have a cup of tea then go back!

Twenty minutes later all was set up again, it was the baby’s face that needed checking, and he finally moved his hand. That’s when I saw the shadow, then I saw the sonographer’s face fall in to a concerned expression, but I knew what she was going to say. “I am so sorry to have to tell you this but I suspect your baby has a cleft lip and that could also mean the hard palate may be affected.” My reply was “It’s okay, what happens now?” I think she was expecting me to cry, but my instincts had prepared me for this news. She asked if we would like to see the consultant so he could explain things to us in more detail, but to be honest I just wanted to go home!

She told me to make an appointment to see my consultant on the Wednesday, so we did then went home. The next day I was bombarded with calls from different midwives and it was quite a shock! So many people were saying how sorry they were…but why were people apologising? It could be worse! I then got a call from the specialists saying that they wanted to see m   e on the Wednesday and they cancelled my appointment with the consultant for me.

So many emotions consume you, sadness, anger, guilt, but you get over them all in different stages. It was like grief in a way, at first I wondered if it was my fault, but deep down I knew it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Throughout the pregnancy my Chris was brilliant especially when the OC really kicked in at 26 weeks! The condition was worse second time around. It was so frustrating, there were lots of scary trips to the hospital for different reasons and we had two specialist scans at the Princess Ann in Southampton. We were told our baby had a unilateral cleft lip to the left and the hard and soft palate was possibly affected. The cleft had affected his gum as well. It was at this scan that we decided to find out the sex as we wanted to focus on something new; we were delighted to be told it was a blue!

My pregnancy was being hijacked! It wasn’t the enjoyable experience I would have liked in fact it made me feel very depressed and angry I often wondered ‘why me?’ but I had to pull myself together as it wasn’t just the OC and cleft to worry about I had my beautiful little girl to look after. I had to hide my fear and sadness from her, Tia and Chris were my rocks, and they kept me going. Because of my condition I had to be induced and when the day arrived I was very nervous about the labour.


We got to the hospital and I gave my notes to the Midwife to make sure they knew I was having a cleft baby, After I was induced I was moved to my own room at about 4.15PM and the pain was becoming intense. I used only gas and air as soon as my waters broke. It was very, very fast from then on out, I had to push with every contraction finally his head emerged then on that next push my contraction died! His head was stuck until the next one came, and it came after what seemed like an eternity and I pushed and pushed! Then at 8.57pm my baby boy was laying in my arms.ParentStories-Blake3

My first thoughts were ‘My god, the cleft isn’t bad at all…he’s so gorgeous! And wow he looks just like Tia did!’ We were so proud of our gorgeous boy, he was a whopping 8lb 10oz – our little bruiser! The love engulfed me as I held my boy! I was elated and fell in love with my Blake, my cleft baby! I bonded instantly like a Lioness to her Cub, protective and fierce. Nobody would judge him, point or stare, and why would they? He is beautiful.

Blake is nearly eight months old now and is doing fantastic, he had his first repair at 5 months which was his lip and soft palate. We were in hospital for five days as we needed to establish feeding after surgery. It took me a good few weeks to get used to his new smile but in all honesty it’s just as stunning as his last. I do miss his cleft smile but I took lots and lots of pictures to remind me and for him to see when he’s older! People can’t believe how brilliant he looks. We are waiting now for his hard palate surgery – it will be another hurdle for my little bruiser but he’s a strong lad and I am so proud to be his mummy.

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