My posts so far have been all about Isla but the other half of my incredible pair is her big sister Isabelle who has had a bit of a journey of her own!
Isabelle was literally forced into the world by csection on 25/2/14 at 11.28am after spending most of the pregnancy with her head wedged in my left rib & becoming stuck. There’s something very special about having your first baby & becoming a Mum. We enjoyed the first few hours as a three.
Then it all began when the midwife thought she saw a cleft palate. The next few days were a blur of paediatricians, midwives & doctors. Isabelle didn’t have a cleft palate but she had some ‘unusual features’ that they wanted to keep an eye on. Isabelle was then readmitted to hospital at 4 days old having lost 16% of her body weight, essentially failing to thrive. Her small jaw and high bubble palate meant that milk transfer was difficult for her so we spent a few days in hospital before coming home and starting over again!
I remember spending many of the early weeks & months googling all the different things the doctors thought were ‘wrong’. There were many horrible appointments & I struggled through those months, mainly with the unknown. As she grew, I became less & less worried about her as she began to develop normally, albeit a bit lazy to crawl & walk.
There have been some worrying times over the past 3 years. Doctors have had concerns about her growth, her skeletal development, speech, sight, hearing & more. Most recently she had an immunological reaction which can cause long-term kidney damage, which she is being monitored for.
Despite all of this, Isabelle has done remarkably well. She is still under a variety of specialists including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, physio, audiology & genetics. In October, she got glasses & has taken to them brilliantly. She’s an extremely brave little girl, even watching cannulas being inserted into her hand with interest. Nothing phases her and we always try to make their hospital appointments as fun as possible for them both! Luckily, at the moment, she enjoys the play areas in the hospital so we can usually tempt her with those and the promise of a cake afterwards!
Isabelle & Isla share many features as they have the same genetic condition. Interestingly, Isabelle has a mild forme frustre lip (also known as a microform cleft). She is also under the cleft teams’ speech & language therapist to monitor her palate function. Maybe our early experiences with Isabelle are what caused Tim to spot Isla’s cleft on our 20 week scan. Isabelle absolutely dotes on her little sister and has been so kind and caring towards her since she was born.
This week she has her first operation at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She was born with a rare type of birth mark on her head that needs removing. Due to its shape/size, type of skin & location, it has a chance of growing tumours or skin cancer. So she is having a ‘serial excision’ to remove it in 2 parts. In typical Isabelle style, her biggest worry is that the hospital won’t have egg sandwiches. I can feel the familiar pre surgery anxieties beginning for me but I know she’ll be a superstar.
(Photo credit to Hannah Hall Photography)