Victoria's Story

· The Pregnancy ·

February 1993
"I'm pregnant!" The tried and true home pregnancy test never lies. A subsequent visit to the family doctor confirmed the test result. My wife, Leslie, and I were going to have our first child!

12 May 1993 [week 18]
I went with Leslie for the first ultrasound scan of our baby. The pregnancy had been going along very smoothly to this point. The obstetrician actually had an ultrasound machine right in his office, which was very convenient. This ultrasound was routine and the obstetrician said that everything looked fine. Despite that, he wanted to do another one at 22 weeks, just to make sure. I can't say for sure, but I think he had suspicions of something right then.

9 June 1993 [week 22]
The second ultrasound took place at the obstetrician's office. This time nobody stated that everything looked fine. The obstetrician brought in his partner in practice to study the ultrasound picture and then told us that he wanted us to go to the Ottawa General Hospital (OGH) for a more in-depth ultrasound. He said that he suspected that something wasn't quite right with our baby but would not elaborate. His refusal to tell us what he thought was wrong led to a long, worrisome night for Leslie and me.

10 June 1993
Off we went to the OGH. The ultrasound technician did her work and was joined by one of the staff obstetricians, who told us that they could only see one of the ventricles in our baby's heart. He wasn't quite sure exactly what defect he was seeing, but knew that it was a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). He immediately sent us next door to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) for yet another ultrasound and a visit with the Chief of Pædiatric Cardiology.

It was at CHEO that we finally got the Whole Truth: our baby had just one ventricle where there should be two, a rare and complex Congenital Heart Defect, known simply as Single Ventricle. The cardiologist then gave us an hour-long explanation of this defect and its treatment in just five minutes! He spelled it all out. Our baby would need extended hospitalisation right after birth. Treatment would consist of two or maybe three operations: a Blalock shunt shortly after birth (if the baby wasn't doing too well), a Bi-directional Glenn shunt, and finally a Fontan procedure. That conversation, which took place at one end of a long table in a cluttered conference room at CHEO, is one that I will not soon forget. My wife and I were in shock for the rest of the day. We wandered back to the OGH for another chat with the obstetrician there. He talked at us for a while about more tests and brain disorders that could come with the heart defect, etc. Part way through this conversation, we realised that he was trying to offer us the option of aborting this baby. That was one thing that we would not even consider. That was a bad day - the worst ever.

June 1993 - October 1993
The next week, Leslie was transferred to the High-Risk Obstetrics Department at the OGH. They took excellent care of her and the baby over the remainder of the pregnancy. Ultrasounds were done with each and every visit (totaling fourteen). We found out that our baby was a girl. We had about four months to prepare for the events that would follow.

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