A mother who claims she was offered ten abortions by doctors right up until her due date – has given birth to a healthy baby girl.
Natalie Halson, from Manchester, 29, said doctors repeatedly warned that her unborn baby would have a poor quality of life after a 22-week scan showed the foetus had spina bifida.
The condition – which affects 1,500 pregnancies every year – means the spine and spinal cord haven’t developed properly in the womb.
But Natalie, an assistant radiographer, said she decided to trust her gut instinct and go ahead with the pregnancy – welcoming 7lb 6oz Mirabelle, who is now six-months- old.
And although Natalie doesn’t know exactly what the future holds, she said her daughter is thriving after having corrective surgery shortly after she was born.
Natalie Halson, from Manchester, 29, said doctors repeatedly warned that her unborn baby would have a poor quality of life after a 22-week scan showed the foetus had spina bifida
But Natalie, an assistant radiographer, said she decided to trust her gut instinct and go ahead with the pregnancy – welcoming 7lb 6oz Mirabelle
A picture of little Mirabelle’s scar, which she got from an operation to rectify her spina bifida after birth (pictured)
The ‘miracle’ baby had to undergo an operation as soon as she was born, but is now happy and healthy.
It comes despite doctors regularly suggesting she terminate the pregnancy, even when she was 33 weeks gone, Natalie claims.
Natalie said: ‘I found out as much as I could and realised that there were options.
‘I refused to give up on my baby but the medics just wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Natalie with Mirabelle now. The young mother was offered to end her pregnancy ten times but wouldn’t budge
Mother knows best: At 22 weeks (in the womb), Mirabelle was diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition that affects the spin formation of a baby
Look at those cheeks: After a swift operation following her birth,Mirabelle is now a happy and healthy baby
Natalie, left, with her mother Susan (right) and her daughter Mirabelle. After thoroughly researching spina bifida, Natalie decided to trust her intuition and go ahead with the pregnancy
At every check-up of the pregnancy, Natalie (pictured) would be offered the possibility to end her pregnancy but she refused each time
‘It was so insistent even after I’d repeatedly said no but it was getting offered a termination just weeks before she was born that really upset me.
‘She was a proper little person at that point. It was vile to think they just wanted me to get rid of her.
‘I was offered an abortion at every appointment I had up until the day she was born – about ten times in all.
‘But I am so glad I refused. Mirabelle really is a miracle.’
Doctors suspected the baby had spina bifida after the 22 week scan, but sent Natalie away saying she’d have to be booked in for a specialist scan a week later.
There was a risk that Mirabelle would be wheel-chair bound for the rest of her life or would have a very low quality of life, but after thorough research Natalie decided to stick to the pregnancy
The mother and daughter duo is now happier than ever. Natalie said that would fight every day for the best life for Mirabelle
A picture of Mirabelle’s echo when she was still in the womb. Natalie had been over the moon to learn she was expecting
But Natalie, who works in hospitals herself as an assistant radiographer, suspected something was wrong, so called the ward and demanded answers.
Natalie recalled: ‘That was when they told me that the baby had spinda bifida. I broke down. I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying.
‘They made out like an abortion was my only option and explained that if I went ahead with the pregnancy my baby would be wheelchair bound and have no quality of life.
‘When I got off the phone I went and did tonnes of research and found out that there were options for my little girl – I felt suddenly really angry that they’d made out I had none.
‘If I’d not had that time to do my research I might have even agreed to the termination.
‘I look at Mirabelle now and think “I wouldn’t even have known you.” It doesn’t bear thinking about.’
Mirabelle in the bath. Mirabelle was born on 12th December at 38 weeks in Liverpool Women’s Hospital, weighing 7lbs 6oz after Natalie underwent an emergency caesarean
A mother’s pride and joy: Aside from the worry about her daughter’s condition, Natalie had a ‘dream pregnancy’
Natalie fought to be transferred to Great Ormond Street, London, where leading world specialist in spina bifida, Dr Jan Deprest, is based, for a second opinion.
She had her 23 and 26 week scans at the specialist children’s hospital.
Foetal surgery – an operation carried out while the baby is still in the womb – was ruled out due to the nature of the lesion on Mirabelle’s spine.
Aside from the worry about her daughter’s condition, Natalie had a ‘dream pregnancy’.
Mirabelle was born on 12th December at 38 weeks in Liverpool Women’s Hospital, weighing 7lbs 6oz after Natalie underwent an emergency Caesarean.
The newborn was whisked straight off to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool.
‘It was really awful not being able to see her after she was born, especially after I’d fought so hard for her but we knew she was in the best hands,’ Natalie said.
‘I was desperate to be near to her and so I discharged myself less than ten hours after the c-section, against the advice of doctors, so that I could be by her side.
Mirabelle pictured soon after her birth in hospital. ‘There are some days that I just want to be able to see in to the future, to see how able she’ll be but really it makes no difference to me at all,’ Natalie said
Mirabelle sleeping, with her surgical scar on her back. The little girl has been healthy since her birth
Pictured is Mirabelle holding on to her mother’s hand in hospital ‘They told me that they’d reattached all the nerves in her back like a zip. I was so emotional, I couldn’t stop crying,’ Natalie said
‘They operated on Mirabelle’s spine the day after she was born, it was a horrible anxious wait as it lasted about 12 hours, but the doctors were really happy with her progress afterwards.
‘They told me that they’d reattached all the nerves in her back like a zip. I was so emotional, I couldn’t stop crying.’
After a month of visiting the newborn in hospital, when Natalie stayed in a free hotel run by Ronald McDonald House charity, she was finally allowed to take Mirabelle home.
‘It’s almost put me off having other kids as it’s been such a rough time, but on the other hand I wanted more as soon as I saw her, she was just so gorgeous,’ said the mother
Natalie added: ‘There are some days that I just want to be able to see in to the future, to see how able she’ll be, but really it makes no difference to me at all.
‘We love her just the same either way. We fight every day for the best life for her. I consider myself a very strong person, but it’s been a incredibly tough journey.
‘It’s almost put me off having other kids as it’s been such a rough time, but on the other hand I wanted more as soon as I saw her, she was just so gorgeous.
‘I would recommend to any parents who are advised to abort, that it isn’t the only option no matter what the hospitals try and tell them.
‘And always go with your gut instinct, something inside told me that my baby was going to be OK- and look at her now, she’s perfect.’
Mirabelle and Natalie now. After a month of visiting the newborn in hospital, Natalie was finally allowed to take Mirabelle home
Natalie said to always go with your gut, and that she couldn’t bear the thought of not having met Mirabelle
The mother and daughter are both happy and healthy, and while the experience was tough, Natalie said ti was worth the price
What is spina bifida?
Spina bifida is a fault in the development of the spine and spinal cord that leaves a gap in the spine.
About 1,500 babies are born with spina bifida each year in the US, according to the CDC. In the UK, approximately 1 in 1,000 babies are born with the condition.
Most cases are detected before birth, at the 20-week scan.
The most serious form of the disease is called myelomeningocele. In myelomeningocele, the spinal column remains open along the bones making up the spine.
The membranes and spinal cord push out to create a sac in the baby’s back.
This sometimes leaves the nervous system vulnerable to infections that may be fatal.
In most cases surgery is carried out to close the gap in the spine after birth.
But damage to the nervous system will usually already have taken place, resulting in:
- partial or total paralysis of the lower limbs
- bowel and urinary incontinence
- loss of skin sensation
Most babies with myelomeningocele will also develop hydrocephalus, with excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pooling inside the brain.
This is caused by a malformation at the base of the skull in which the lower parts of the brain are pushed down towards the spinal cord.
Babies with hydrocephalus are fitted with a shunt after birth to divert the fluid from the brain, so reducing the risk of increasing cranial pressure, into the abdominal cavity.