On September 10, 2018, Anna and Michael Mason celebrated his birthday by going to see their obstetrician.
Anna was having a routine prenatal ultrasound for their unborn son, Hunter. She was 22 weeks along. So far it had been a completely normal pregnancy.
During this appointment, Anna and Michael were terrified to learn that Hunter had gastroschisis. Gastroschisis is a rare condition affecting approximately 1 in 2,200 pregnancies. It occurs when there is a hole in the infant’s abdominal wall. This then causes the infant to be born with their intestines, and sometimes other organs, on the outside of their body.
This was the beginning of an intense journey for Anna and Michael. They were seen by multiple specialists and learned Hunter would need to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) following delivery. He would require surgery in the first few days of his life and could possibly remain hospitalized for several months. The possibility of Hunter developing eating issues and having developmental delays were concerns as well.
Anna and Michael asked themselves and their doctors repeatedly why this had happened. They had done everything right before and during pregnancy. Their doctors reassured them they had done nothing wrong and no one knows why some infants have gastroschisis.
On Christmas Eve of 2018, Anna went into labor at 36 weeks.
She arrived at the Bon Secours – St. Mary’s Hospital expecting a long labor. However, Hunter had other plans and was born less than two hours later.
After an assessment by the NICU team, Hunter was placed in Anna’s arms, something she did not expect to happen. Moments later, he was taken to the NICU, his body wrapped in a neonatal plastic bag. The pediatric surgeon was able to immediately return Hunter’s intestines to his abdomen and close the hole in his wall without even leaving the NICU.
Anna and Michael were able to hold Hunter as soon as his incision healed. They even assisted in his care including feeding him, changing his diapers and taking his temperature. Anna was also able to provide pumped breastmilk for Hunter, which allowed the medical team to provide the best possible nutrition for him and improved his recovery time.
During this time, NICU team at St. Mary’s Hospital also provided social support to Hunter’s family, as Anna and Michael were dividing their attention between Hunter and their 3-year-old daughter, Sydney.
Hunter progressed quickly, healing from his surgery and learning how to eat. When he was eighteen days old, Hunter was ready to go home and was discharged from NICU. Thankfully, Anna and Michael’s fear of a months-long hospital stay were never realized!
After going home, Anna and Michael continued to worry about Hunter. At seven months, during a check-up visit, their surgeon reminded them that Hunter is a normal baby and that they need to enjoy him. From then on, Anna and Michael have allowed themselves to relax.
Hunter just celebrated his first birthday! He eats well and is growing and developing completely normally. He is an active, energetic and beautiful toddler.
Learn about the neonatology services offered at Bon Secours.