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Ashley Jones was having a baby – the first for her and her husband Keith. Ashley was doing everything right – she had done her research, never missed an ultrasound, had her vaccinations up to date. In hindsight, Ashley reflects, “How presumptuous that we just assumed nothing would go wrong with the birth of our baby.” Today, Ashley and Victoria are “frequent flyers” at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. One of Ashley’s most prized possessions is the deck of cardsshe carries in her purse – the bundle of business cards of the caregivers from the multitude of departments at ACH Victoria visits.
Victoria spent the first few months of her life the Edwards Family NICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital because she was born with Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). It’s a condition in which an abnormal channel, called a fistula, connects the windpipe (trachea) to the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus). The danger of this condition is that food and saliva can get into the trachea and lungs through this channel. This can make a child cough or choke and lead to lung infections or pneumonia. If not caught, it could be fatal. As a result of this condition, Victoria has had several corrective surgeries and endless hours of introducing tiny drops of milk to try and build up her ability to feed orally and have her digestive system accept it. It is a long, drawn out, but necessary process that requires much patience – along with the expertise of the nurses and dietitians at the ACH. Thankfully, this hard work paid off, because today, Victoria is 100% orally fed. In fact she loves to eat and has quite a sophisticated palette for a 14-month-old.
Victoria is quite possibly the happiest little girl you will ever meet and has a soft spot for Grandma Carol. Victoria is working on catching up on some of her delays which are a result of her being in hospital on her back for so many months. In fact she hit an exciting milestone just a couple of weeks ago when she rolled over for the first time! Victoria’s big challenge right now is eating solids, as she’s prone to aspirating, which can be nerve wracking for mum and dad, but they are working through it with the help of the occupational therapists and respiratory experts at ACH. She has come so far in her short little life and is improving by leaps and bounds – so much so, that her family who used to live just blocks from the ACH (and even that wasn’t close enough) now lives in Canmore and are comfortable doing so!