Young mum, Caitlin , is particularly enjoying her first Mothers’ Day as she was always convinced that her liver condition meant that a pregnancy would not be possible. She tells her story here ……
I have biliary atresia but it was diagnosed pretty late. I know that a Kasai should be carried out before eight weeks and I was 10 weeks old by the time I had mine. Doctors told my parents at the time that my chances of making my third birthday were pretty slim. When I did pass that milestone , they said that I would probably need a transplant before my 16th birthday.
But actually health wise, I have been pretty lucky. I’ve been going to Kings for regular check- ups my whole life and have not yet been told that a transplant is needed. My family have been in touch with CLDF for several years, so as I grew up I got to go to events and meet other young people in my situation. This, coupled with the fact that my health was stable, meant that I didn’t feel the isolation which I know some young people with liver disease do.
One thing I did always assume though, was that I wouldn’t be able to fall pregnant. I still have my native liver, I have an enlarged spleen and although no doctor had ever said to me ‘you won’t be able to have a family’ it was pretty much what I had told myself.
So I was shocked last year to discover I was pregnant at the age of 18. Me and my boyfriend Ryan were both working at the pub where we had met and in all honesty my first concern was not my liver – it was the fact that we were both so young and unprepared for the whole idea.
When I informed my liver consultant, he wanted to see me at Kings but after the first check, said that he was happy for me to be looked after at my local hospital which was much easier. My midwife had never looked after a mum to be with a liver disease before, but I received great care. I had blood tests every week and scans every month. I was quite unwell during the pregnancy – I developed obstetric cholestasis which I understand is not unusual for people in my situation. Having said that, I can honestly say that I loved being pregnant.
Because of my biliary atresia, it was agreed that I should be induced at 38 weeks so I was brought into hospital but nothing happened! In the end I had an emergency caesarean section at 39 weeks and my little girl Oakley was born on November 21 last year, weighing an impressive 7lb 8 oz!
She is perfect and I’m happy to admit I’m just besotted with her! Much though I loved being pregnant, I love being a mum even more. We’re all staying with my parents at the moment while we get our own place sorted so it’s wonderful for them too. My mum didn’t think she’d see me grow up, let alone have a child of my own, so it’s all very special.
In fact my experience has made me refocus on what I want to do next. I had worked in hospitality since leaving college but now I want to train to be a midwife. I’ve seen for myself what an important role it is and I think it would be great if there were more midwives with knowledge and understanding of childhood liver disease and other long term conditions. Thanks to medical advances, more of us are growing up and having babies and I would love to help people in my situation.
I think it’s perfectly understandable to be a young person with a liver condition and worry about the future but my advice would be – don’t get stuck in your bad thoughts. All it does is stress you out and that’s no good for you. Don’t focus on the ‘what ifs’, deal with the now!