Michelle Aslin, 35, Grimsby explains why she will never take Reggie's life for granted...
Parenthood’s such an incredible journey.
‘I’ve always wanted to be a dad,’ said my fella Lee, 35, soon after we met, in 2008.
I was already a mum to my daughter Katelyn, then 4, so we started trying for our own.
Only, after marrying in July 2013, a year later, we’d had zero luck.
Fertility tests revealed that Lee had a low sperm count.
He was crushed. It meant we’d just an eight per cent chance of conceiving naturally.
As I already had a child, we didn’t qualify for IVF.
We accepted it, though, and we focused on Katelyn.
But as we never used protection, there was still a slim hope.
And on 1 January last year, my boobs felt really sore.
I bought two pregnancy tests and we watched in shock as two bold blue lines revealed…
I was pregnant!
Keen to discover the gender, we booked a private scan at 17 weeks.
‘A boy,’ the sonographer said.
‘One of each!’ I exclaimed.
We chose the name Reggie.
Three weeks on, my mum Lorraine, 54, joined me for another scan at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, as Lee was working away.
But our lad was facing the wrong way for them to check his heart’s development.
‘Come back in two weeks,’ I was told.
Lee joined me for the next scan.
Only, the consultant said sadly, ‘There’s something wrong with his heart.’
Next morning, an ECG scan at Leeds General Infirmary confirmed Reggie had hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
A rare defect affecting only 250 babies each year in the UK, it meant the left side of his heart was missing.
‘If he survives, he’ll have a short life,’ the doctor warned.
My mind swam as I was offered three choices.
A termination, or something called Comfort Care – meaning when Reggie was born, he’d be allowed to gently slip away…
Or the third option: drastic open-heart surgery, followed by more ops as he got older.
‘We must give him a chance,’ Lee urged, and I agreed.
The doctor explained that even if all the ops were successful, Reggie would be unlikely to live beyond his teens.
Regardless, we wanted to give him the best shot at life.
Reggie arrived on 1 September 2016, weighing 9lb 12oz.
Overwhelmed, Lee cut the cord, had a first precious cuddle.
‘We’re your Mummy and Daddy,’ I cooed.
At 4 days old, Reggie faced a nine-hour op, which would effectively ‘re-plumb’ his heart.
His right ventricle would now do the job of both sides.
A plastic shunt was placed between the pulmonary artery and the aorta to supply blood to Reggie’s lungs.
After an anxious wait, just after 6pm, the surgeon called us.
‘It was a success,’ he revealed.
We rushed to Reggie’s side.
Our boy looked so fragile. His heart was so swollen they couldn’t sew him up yet.
Somehow, he was surviving.
And he did well. Usually, a baby with this condition can remain in hospital for at least six months. Incredibly, Reggie came home on 13 October.
‘Our little heart warrior!’ Lee declared.
Reggie’s surprised us all. He has many struggles due to lack of oxygen, and there’s a blue tinge to his lips, hands and feet.
But, despite it all, he’s the happiest babe and is always smiling.
His second operation took place on 8 March this year, where the plastic shunt was removed and now his heart’s working to keep his oxygen levels stable.
Between the ages of 3 and 5, Reggie will have a third op to accommodate his growth.
We know that every heartbeat’s precious.
Working overtime, there’s a danger Reggie’s heart will one day stop. Literally wear out.
Until that fateful day, we’ll never give up on him.