Anna was born at full term after a healthy pregnancy. Unfortunately she suffered oxygen deprivation in the few days prior to delivery, which wasn't picked up. When she was delivered she was flat with a very low apgar score (1) and had aspirated meconium. She was immediately attended by the crash team who managed to resuscitate her and suctioned her lungs. She then experienced a seizure. To prevent further damage to her brain, she was cooled in an incubator for 72 hours, with NICU care, then returned to the SCBU for observation for the next 10 days. We finally welcomed Anna home at 14 days old.
It was clear from Anna's physical development over the next few months that everything was not well. Despite our persistent efforts to instigate breastfeeding she was unable to do so. We later discovered that the brain injury had left her with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and dysarthria (damaged or weak speech muscles). By 3 months I was aware that she was unable to lift her head as well as other babies the same age. From there onwards none of the regular milestones were met.
Due to the struggles with eating and swallowing we took the difficult decision for Anna to have a gastrostomy fitted when she was 8 years old. So she now receives all of her key nutrition through a tube in her tummy and absolutely loves taking small mouthfuls of pizza, chocolate, strawberry yoghurt and gravy at family mealtimes.
Anna has received regular physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy since then. At 10 years old she is able to roll over on the floor, hold a small toy and wave it around. Her absolutely favourite activity is drawing and painting and she has endless patience for this.She plays hilarious role play games with her favourite toy - a baby boy doll called Ben, and his sidekick Fred bear. They are always getting up to mischief (which is nothing to do with Anna!)
Anna has been able to competently use a communication book from the age of 18 months, which she uses with a colour-coded eye-gaze system to indicate which symbols she wants to use. She is learning to use a tech based communication device, which is considerably harder work but does mean she can communicate independently. She loves taking part in school PE using her adapted tricycle, and is currently learning how to steer a power wheelchair using a specially adapted switch.
Anna has an adventurous spirit and has variously enjoyed going on a powerboat in the Solent, a waltzer at the funfair, going VERY high on a swing and you cannot keep her out of the swimming pool if there is one to hand.
She enjoys these adventures with her friends at school, and with her 2 older brothers whom she has wrapped very firmly around her little finger!