We had gone through what we considered a normal pregnancy with Lauren. This was our second pregnancy, so we felt we pretty much had things figured out this time around. A little over a month before we found out about Lauren's condition, we had decided to change to a new obstetrician, who noticed that I was measuring larger than I should and suggested we get another ultrasound (even though both ultrasounds from the previous office had been charted as normal). We assumed that we were just going to have a large baby, so we were quite shocked when the atmosphere of the room changed and talk of fluid being on Lauren's brain began. We couldn't even fathom something being wrong after all that time of everything being perfect. We were 33 weeks along. We were sent that day to Regional Obstetrical Consultants where an ultrasound found that Lauren had a large opening of her spine (Spina Bifida), one clubbed foot, and a severe level of hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
Looking back, things moved rather quickly and appointments were made with several specialists, including the Boehm Birth Defects Center. Mandy, whom we had met through a mutual friend the year before, was the only person we knew with Spina Bifida. She explained to us that the staff at the Boehm Birth Defects Center would really help us understand what was happening. The day we went to meet with the Boehm Center's nurse practitioner, I had contractions while in her office. It was quite a day.
After a week of contractions that kept getting stronger every day, Lauren was delivered by emergency C Section at 35 weeks gestation. She weighed 9 lbs. and 15 oz., but unfortunately most of that weight was cranial fluid. She underwent an operation for spinal closure and shunt placement the next day. She did well despite arriving early and began breathing without assistance. She spent two weeks in the NICU and then was able to go home. The following three months were a whirlwind of appointments and information and support.
The Boehm Center became most everything to us during that emotional time, as we slowly and painfully learned that nothing was as we orgininally planned. Thankfully the whirlwinds became smaller and further apart. The Center continues to serve our daughter's health care needs and provides our family with direction. We have learned that although it is hard to trust when your world seems shattered, we have an amazing group of not just health professionals but hearts to turn to. Lauren is an extraordinarily happy little girl, and she continues to surprise us daily as we learn to "let her decide who she is going to be". That is probably one of the most important things that we will continue to learn.