Vicki Sinden, 29, Gloucester explains how her son's skull was rebuilt piece by piece,
I’ve always loved being around littl’uns. So joyful, they always put me in a good mood.
At 14, I volunteered as the ‘toy girl’ at a nursery, setting out toys then clearing them away.
After college, I studied a foundation degree in Early Years at the Open University.
Becoming a nursery nurse at 16, I was chuffed.
Then, on my 21st birthday night out, in March 2008, I met my now hubby.
We married in June 2014, and by the end of that month, I felt nauseous and dizzy.
‘Positive!’ I shrieked after taking a pregnancy test.
I’d a tough pregnancy, though, with constant morning sickness.
At my 20-week scan, we found out it was to be a boy, so decided to name him Jack.
At around 26 weeks, I had a minor bump in the car – a guy ran into the back of me.
I was rushed for an ultrasound, but thankfully everything was fine. Only, I’d horrendous pain in my ribs afterwards.
‘Must just be tender,’ I figured.
On 30 March, around 2am, I awoke with excruciating pains.
‘Jack’s coming!’ I panted.
Racing to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, I’d a gruelling 26-hour labour.
‘His head isn’t coming,’ the midwife said.
Eventually, they used forceps to deliver Jack.
Weighing 7lb 7oz, they placed him on my chest.
Gazing at my new babe, I instantly worried something was wrong.
His forehead didn’t look the right shape, it was very bony.
A ridge on the top of his head went towards his nose.
‘It’s common after a forceps delivery, it’ll settle,’ a nurse said.
Discharged that day, I was chuffed to bits bringing home my handsome boy.
Only, by his six-week checkup, there’d been no change in his head shape, so I told the midwife.
‘It’s not settled down,’ I fretted.
Referred to Gloucestershire Royal, a consultant saw Jack.
‘I suspect it’s craniosynostosis,’ she said, explaining it’s where an infant skull prematurely fuses by turning into bone, changing the growth pattern of the skull.
Needing an X-ray to confirm it, Jack was sent to a consultant at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
At 5 months, it was confirmed Jack had nonsyndromic craniosynostosis. The cause is unknown, but can be due to the baby assuming an awkward position in the womb.
‘Maybe the car crash I had shifted Jack under my ribs,’ I gasped.
‘We’ll never know,’ my hubby soothed.
Soon after, the doctor told us Jack’s options.
‘If left untreated, it can lead to brain damage as Jack’s brain wouldn’t have the room to grow,’ he explained.
The best option was surgery.
‘We’d take off the top half of his skull, break it and reconstruct it like a jigsaw,’ he added.
The optimum time to operate was 16 months, so we had to wait.
But little Jack not only had craniosynostosis to contend with, we discovered he has a number of food allergies, too.
You name it, he can’t touch it or he’ll react badly – his skin exploding in hives or leading to difficulties breathing.
We have to plan ahead every meal, and hope it’s something he’ll grow out of.
Meanwhile, last July, Jack was the right age for the op.
On 8 August, the surgeon spent five-and-a-half hours removing two plates, then reconstructing the top of Jack’s cranium. After, the surgeon rang us directly.
‘It was a success,’ he said. Relief!
I visited Jack in the High Dependency Unit and burst into tears as I edged closer to inspect his stitches.
Neat zig-zagged lines spread from ear-to-ear across his scalp.
‘They’ve done a good job,’ a nurse said.
My hubby and I hugged each other tight.
‘We’re through the worst,’ he said.
Jack needed a blood transfusion and, two days on, his head swelled so much he couldn’t open his eyes.
A normal reaction to surgery, but still frightening.
Staying at the hospital, I didn’t leave Jack’s side until he was asleep each night.
Three days on, spying toys, he decided he wanted them – so ran over, me chasing him!
‘Nothing fazes him,’ I smiled.
Jack was discharged five days on, and we returned home to find my in-laws had transformed our back garden into a play area with a playhouse and toys!
‘Thank you!’ I beamed.
Jack’s skull will always be delicate, so I keep a watchful eye over him.
And he’ll have regular checkups to monitor his eyes, ears and speech development.
His blond hair’s grown back, so his scar’s disappeared.
And, for now, he’s like any other lad.
We’ve booked a trip to Disneyland Paris to spoil him. Especially as he’s due to become a big brother this July.
A playmate for my strong little Jack the lad. I can’t wait for the next adventure!