Jessica was excited to become a mom for a second time, but during her 12-week ultrasound when she and her family went to the doctor to learn the gender of their baby, they received a different kind of surprise. Their baby girl would be born with a rare birth defect called giant omphalocele – her intestines and liver would be outside of her body, in a sac formed from the umbilical cord. On March 5, 2015, she was delivered by C-section and taken from the Foothills NICU to the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s Edwards Family NICU – a place that would become her home for the next three and a half weeks.
After that time, doctors determined her intestines were working properly and she was strong enough to go home to the care of her parents. To prepare them, surgeons taught Jessica and Mark the techniques of dressing changes on her wound, and Occupational Therapists created a customized brace to protect her omphalocele. Four months later, the pouch was no longer exposed but rather covered by her skin, similar to a hernia. Occupational Therapists then created compression suit, similar to Spanks, that she wears around her abdomen and a corset made of spandex, to help push the liver inside her tummy. Now aside from her little baby pot belly, no one would know she has this rare condition!
She is doing well, growing healthy and meeting milestones like crawling and walking! She is followed by the surgery team who will decide when to repair her omphalocele with surgery.
Isabelle’s parents say they don’t know where they would be without the doctors and nurses who cared for her baby in the NICU after being born with a rare birth defect. They are forever grateful to the Occupational Therapists who she calls the “MacGyver of the hospital” for how they customized special braces for Isabelle’s omphalocele so she could still safely develop into a sitting, crawling, walking baby who starts daycare soon!