Mylomeningocele: little did we know we were going to learn all about this strange word when our third child was born. All seemed normal with the pregnancy – just like the other two. I did not have an ultrasound, but we were informed that it may not have shown anything anyway.
He was born 12 days later and weighed 8 lbs, 1 oz. The doctor told us that there were a couple of things wrong with him. One was his feet – they were upside down and against his ankles, the other was his back – it had a sac on it containing fluid, nerves and possibly bone matter. This was to be Spina Bifida.
Spina Bifida is a birth defect in which part of the spinal column (the bony structure that surrounds the spinal cord) does not close properly, so that a segment of the cord is exposed. The cord, fluid, and/or membranes surrounding the cord protrude in a sac-like membrane. This sac can easily be damaged and surgery is required within 24 hours after birth to prevent infection and other complications.
Ninety-seven per cent of children born with Spina Bifida also have hydrocephalus. This is when the cerebrospinal fluid that normally travels through the brain and spinal cord builds up in the ventricles of the brain. A shunt is then needed to move the fluid from the brain. It is surgically placed under the skin, and end in the ventricle, the other in the lining of the abdomen.
No cause is known for Spina Bifida although there may be a link to low Folic Acid levels in the mother. Children with Spina Bifida have handicaps ranging from incontinence, difficulty in walking, quadriplegia, and mentally retardation.
Our son Trevor is now 6 years old. He has had 16 operations, some minor, but most major. He is able to walk with the aid of his braces. He needs to be catheterized 4 times daily. He has a shunt, actually two of them, to drain fluid from his brain.
Trevor is the most happy, cheerful, delightful and loving child there could ever be. He brings joy to our life every day and without him there would be a great void. The Lord has greatly blessed us with four wonderful children. They all are very special to us but there is something about Trevor that brings a tear to your eye when you see him playing, laughing and just plain having fun with others.