When mum-to-be Natalie Halson had a 22-week scan, she was told that her child would have spina bifida – when a baby’s spinal cord doesn’t develop properly in the womb, causing a gap in the spine.
The 29-year-old, from Manchester, said doctors repeatedly warned that her unborn baby would have a poor quality of life and kept offering the option of abortion.
But Natalie, an assistant radiographer, said she decided to trust her gut instinct and go ahead with the pregnancy – happily welcoming daughter Mirabelle into the world.
Mirabelle had to undergo an operation as soon as she was born, but is now happy and healthy..
Natalie said that doctors made out like abortion was the only option.
Natalie is glad she didn’t take any of the advice as Mirabelle is now her ‘miracle baby’.
‘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,’ said Natalie.
‘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 10 times in all.
‘But I am so glad I refused.’
Natalie explained that as soon as she found out about the diagnosis, she did tonnes of research into the condition to look at her options.
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.
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.
‘If I’d not had that time to do my research I might have even agreed to the termination,’ she added.
‘I look at Mirabelle now and think “I wouldn’t even have known you”. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’
Aside from the worry about her daughter’s condition, Natalie had a ‘dream pregnancy’.
When Mirabelle was born, she was taken 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 10 hours after the c-section, against the advice of doctors, so that I could be by her side.
‘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 the hospital, when Natalie stayed in a free hotel run by Ronald McDonald House charity, she was finally allowed to take Mirabelle home.
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 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 okay – and look at her now, she’s perfect.’
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