As we celebrate Kellen’s first birthday, I cannot help but reflect on the past year. While all parents are excited about this milestone, my husband, Justin, and I are especially grateful to have a first birthday to celebrate.
I remember the excitement leading up to our 19-week sonogram, the day we would find out the sex of our third child. After having two children, we knew the drill, which is why we noticed that something was wrong when the technician took longer than usual to relay the news that it was a boy. That was the day that our unborn child was diagnosed with a developmental defect, called spina bifida. When we heard the news, we were shocked. We had two healthy toddlers at home; it did not seem real.
But it was real, and we knew that we had no time to waste in choosing an option that would give our son the best possible chance. After we received the official diagnosis, we were faced with the option of either going along with the standard post-natal surgery, or taking a risk and undergoing a new in utero surgery that had only been performed a few times in Texas. After countless hours of research, we packed our bags and headed from our home in Dallas to the Fetal Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
On December 16, 2011 Kellen and I underwent a cutting edge in utero surgery that we hoped would change our son’s life. On February 28, Kellen was finally born.
Texas Children’s was more than just a sterile, white hospital. It was our home for months. Angel, one of the nurse coordinators at the Fetal Center, was the first person we spoke to when we arrived, and I immediately knew that she would make everything OK. We were blessed with doctors like Dr. Darrell Cass, who fully explained each step of the process, all while making us laugh and calming our nerves. They helped us realize that having a child with disabilities is not the end of the world, nor is there any reason to feel like all is lost.
A year later, as we put on our paper party hats, I cannot help but smile at the small things, like hearing my daughter Kylie sing, and laughing at my son Brink’s obsession with his baby brother. Every time I see Kellen crawling all over our home or think about all the obstacles he has overcome, I feel so blessed. As of today, Kellen does not have a lot of the complications other children with spina bifida face, and is starting physical therapy next month.
He is truly my miracle baby.
Our story is remarkable, and is a story that I hope will provide the same hope for others faced with the diagnosis of spina bifida as the hope that Texas Children’s Hospital gave my family.
You can learn about Texas Children’s Fetal Center, here.