A mum of twins, whose unborn daughter was diagnosed with a disability, refused an abortion and now both little girls are flourishing.
Marie Stockdale from Penrith, Cumbria, was pregnant with twin girls in 2022. Everything seemed to be proceeding as it should and it was only at her 20-week scan that doctors realised something was wrong. They found that one of the girls, Ava, had a lot more fluid surrounding her body than her sister Mila did.
While they drained some of the fluid, it continued to build up and they discovered that Ava had oesophageal atresia and tracheo-oesophageal fistula. These conditions meant that her oesophagus was not properly joined with the rest of her digestive system. This in turn prevented Ava from swallowing the amniotic fluid as she should have. She was also diagnosed with rhombencephalosynapsis, a rare brain condition that can cause cerebral palsy.
Marie said “because the condition is so rare, doctors had no idea how severely it would affect her, and I was offered a termination. It was never an option though, I had to give her a chance to fight.”
Marie’s waters broke the night before her caesarean section was supposed to take place. She had to be put under general anaesthetic and when she woke 6 hours later she said that “Paul [her partner] had been able to spend time with Mila, while Ava had been taken to a special baby unit and, once I’d come round, they took me through to meet her.”
“We had spent the weeks leading up to the birth trying to come to terms with what laid ahead for our daughter after we’d found out about her condition, but nothing could have prepared us for when we saw her tiny body on a ventilator, covered in tubes and wires. It was very tough for us to see her like that.”
Nine months old and getting stronger every day
Doctors determined that Ava should have surgery that same day and, fortunately, it was successful. Ava was not out of the woods yet though. She had to be put on a ventilator and underwent a second surgery to fix her aorta and sternum to help her breathe properly.
Her mum said “Mila and I had been discharged but thanks to the support of The Sick Children’s Trust, we were able to stay with Paul at Crawford House, just next door to where Ava was.”
“It meant we could spend as much time as possible with both our babies and our other children were able to visit.”
When she was 8 weeks old, Ava was well enough to go home. At almost nine months old, Ava still needs help controlling her movement but she’s getting better all the time.
“They’re both little characters, Mila is very chilled out and patient and Ava is really happy and smiley”, her mum said.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “It’s great that these children are getting along so well and that Marie refused an abortion. It is shocking though that she was offered an abortion in the first instance. Abortion is not a cure for a disability.”