Viccy was 12 weeks pregnant when she was told that the baby she was expecting had Gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines extend outside of the body through a hole next to the belly button. The news came as quite a shock but over the following months, Viccy and husband, George, had time to prepare for the fact that their baby would need an operation within days of being born and started to make plans for a hospital stay of between six and eight weeks.  What no-one could have known then is that baby Harrison’s condition was far more complex than originally expected and that their stay in hospital would far outstretch the few weeks they were expecting.

Viccy’s waters broke at 34 weeks and after meconium was detected in the amniotic fluid, she was induced.  Baby Harrison was born on the 3rd of October weighing 5lb 6oz. His parents only saw him briefly before he was rushed off to the neonatal unit. When Viccy saw Harrison again he was being prepared for surgery.

“Though that was my first time on the neonatal unit, I can’t really remember taking in any of the surroundings.  I was just completely focused on my tiny baby who was now covered in wires and tubes.  We were only with him for a few minutes before he was rushed off for his operation and I think I just cried the whole time.”

During the five hour operation, 18cms of Harrison’s intestine was removed because the blood supply had been cut off causing it to die. Harrison had been given a temporary stoma while his body adapted but otherwise they were reassured that the procedure had been a success and that he would hopefully recover well.

Back on the high dependency unit, things did go well at first. Harrison was enjoying his feeds and his body seemed to be tolerating food. But the situation took a turn for the worse when he started vomiting violently and gradually began refusing his feeds. Although by this point entirely tube fed, the situation continued to deteriorate until only six days after his initial operation, Harrison was in surgery again, this time to correct a blockage behind his stoma.

The removal of the blockage didn’t resolve the problem as expected and back on high dependency, Harrison encountered one complication after another.  Mum, Viccy says: “We learnt very quickly not to get our hopes up too much.  Each time we thought we were taking a step forward, something would happen to knock us back to the beginning again. Despite all our hopes that the second operation would work, every day just felt like a new problem to tackle.  Harrison still wouldn’t feed, his belly was becoming swollen and on top of that he’d developed a chest infection.”

In the following weeks Harrison’s little body underwent several more procedures to try and rectify the problem with his digestion.  A few weeks ago he was fitted with a new stoma that, so far, seems to be working.  Harrison still refuses any attempt to feed him orally his body is currently tolerating the food that he’s given through a tube and he’s growing in strength each day. The family hope to take their baby home for the first time at the end of April but he’ll need ongoing care at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales as he grows.

In July this year, Viccy will be taking part in the Noah’s Ark Charity High Wire for Tiny Lives challenge at Chepstow Quarry to raise money for the neonatal intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Wales.

Viccy says: “Harrison has been through so much in his almost 6 months and I’m in awe of his strength every day. We’ve been in hospital since the day he was born and we simply could not have wanted or wished for better care for our beautiful boy.  I’ve registered to take part in the sponsored zip wire event to help raise £1 million for the Noah’s Ark Charity Tiny Lives Appeal. I want to raise as much as I can for this amazing cause.”