Sarah tells us in her own words about her daughter Arrabella.
"At our 20 week scan at the Rosie Maternity our fourth child, our daughter Arrabella, was diagnosed as having an Exomphalos where part of her organs were developing outside of her abdomen . As you can imagine, it was an extremely anxious time for us and I found myself looking on the internet dwelling on worst case scenarios and feeling too afraid to voice my fears to my husband and family and close friends.
"‘It will all be fine’ became my mantra and the months that followed became an endless run of scan appointments and meetings with consultants/ obstetricians/ radiographers and midwives.
"Looking back at that time I now know that this experience had a major impact on my emotional and mental well being both while it was happening and after.
"The reassurance and confident care I received from the Rosie team supported me through the single most difficult thing I've ever had to endure and experience.
"Being a director of a successful business working full time (and some!) and a mum of three I was used to managing stress and being in control. This, however, was a whole new ball game. I had to relinquish myself and my unborn child to the care and expertise of the medical teams at the Rosie.
"It was hard at times not to feel panicked by the extra attention that had to be focused on me and my unborn child. I had experienced three previous pregnancies with relatively little contact or intervention from the hospital / midwifery teams (my previous ‘care plans’ consisted of one paragraph ‘to be left alone as much as possible’ so this was a completely different experience for me.
"When the time came for our daughter to arrive multi-discipline teams were on hand and I was prepped for a Caesarean section following a number of hours in labour. It was hard for my husband to cope with the sheer number of people and activity involved on the day as his only previous experiences of supporting me in labour had been relatively calm and uninterrupted. At one point he raised his voice (he’s usually an extremely quiet individual) and asked to be allowed ‘five minutes with his wife alone’ before we headed off to the operating theatre. Every member of the staff immediately took note and respected his request and gave us a much needed moment to calm ourselves, hold and reassure one another.
"When our precious baby girl Arrabella arrived we knew exactly what was going to happen. The various teams had explained how she’d be checked and her stomach wrapped in cling film, to keep the part of her liver and intestine that had formed outside of her abdomen protected from damage and infection. Then I could hold her.
"Arrabella had to go without feeding for two weeks by mouth until she recovered from an operation to fix her stomach. She was given total parenteral feed by a intravenous line into her body. I found this especially difficult to cope with as I had breast fed all of our other babies and my instinct as was to desperately want to feed my baby when she cried.
"The nursing and midwifery staff showed me how I could express and save my milk by freezing and labeling it to use later once Arrabella’s digestive system was ready.
"Arrabella had an operation to repair her stomach and she now has what we fondly call her ‘designer belly button’.
"The care and support of the people around you when you bring a child into the world is critical. It really is the most important job in the world."