Mason’s story – my baby’s heart defect

“If our sons condition was not picked up during a scan, he would have lived only a matter of hours at the most. Early detection saved his life.”   Mason was born with Tetralogy of the Fallot, a congenital heart defect, which was thankfully detected during mum, Lauren’s, pregnancy. Here is their story. 

On New Year’s Eve 2013, my husband and I discovered that we were expecting our first child. We couldn’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy! Everyone asked me if we would prefer a boy or girl, and I could honestly say “It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s healthy”.

In April, we had our 20-week scan. We found out that we were expecting a son but we were told we would need to come back for another scan. He was in an awkward position and they weren’t able to check all the parts of his body. It sounded about right that our child was going to be difficult and uncooperative so I didn’t think about it too much. Two scans later, and still no luck.

Then, on May the 23rd I came back for a fourth scan. It was the first time my husband couldn’t attend, but by now I was familiar with the process and luckily my mum was available to come with me.

We joked with the sonographer about how uncooperative my baby was and wished him luck trying to scan me. He sent me off for a walk to try and get baby moving but when I came back in to the room, he had been joined by another sonographer. He explained that his colleague was there to offer a second opinion. At this moment my heart sank and I got a lump in my throat.  What was wrong with my baby boy? I knew he was alive, I’d seen him move and heard his heartbeat.image2

I didn’t understand how many things could go wrong in pregnancy until this point. I look back and realise how naive we both were.

I was then told the dreaded six words:

“There’s something wrong with baby’s heart.”

We would need to go to Great Ormond Street Hospital for a fifth scan – and my unborn child’s heart condition would then be diagnosed.

I tried to be strong, but it didn’t last long. I burst into tears. The staff were brilliant, they reassured me that nothing I had done had caused my sons heart defect, they referred me to a counsellor straight away and helped me to understand the next steps.

image3The next few months were packed with scans and monitoring. At 25 weeks my son’s condition was diagnosed with a heart defect called Tetralogy of the Fallot and a week later I had an amniocentesis to rule out any other issues. Thankfully this came back clear.

We picked a name for our son, Mason Jacob. I felt that giving him a name would help us bond with him, before he was here. I didn’t like him being spoken about as a foetus. He was my child.

On August 27th 2014, I travelled to London to be induced at 37 weeks +5. Mason entered this world, screaming and pink. Something we were told wouldn’t happen. It was very reassuring to hear him fight from the very start. However, he was still very poorly and was whisked away to the NICU to receive the medicine that would keep him alive until he was big enough for his first operation.

Lauren with baby Mason, who had Tetralogy of the FAllotOn September 30th 2014, at 4 weeks and 6 days old, Mason had his first open heart surgery, weighing only 6lbs.

He is now a beautiful, clever and adventurous 2-year-old. He’s since undergone 2 more operations, the last of which was in September 2015.

Mason is blissfully unaware of his hard start in life. His next op is due in a few more years when he will be about 5 years old. Until then we are enjoying life as a ‘normal ‘ family. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about what would have happened if his heart defect was undetected.  If our sons condition was not picked up during a scan, he would have lived only a matter of hours at the most. Early detection saved his life.