PREGNANCY is a rollercoaster – with baby scans being up there with one of the most emotional parts of carrying a child.
But one mum will never forget the 20-week scan she had with her little girl.
Natalie Robinson wasn’t initially concerned when a nurse struggled to take clear pictures of her unborn child’s pulmonary arteries.
Following this, on February 8, the 32-year-old had to go for an 'intensive scan'.
It was then that mum Natalie and her partner Mike, 37, were told their baby had a 'very severe' heart defect.
Little Aria was born on June 10 this year, but just days later, had to have surgery after being diagnosed with a birth defect of the heart.
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This occurs when the blood vessel coming out of the heart in a developing baby fails to separate completely.
If left untreated, the condition can be fatal.
Natalie, who lives in Wales said: "It was gut wrenching – we left crying as there was a possibility it would be the last time we would see her.
"It was honestly the hardest thing we have ever had to go through.
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"On Thursday 16 June at 9am, I carried Aria myself to the anaesthetist, where we were then told to give her a kiss and say goodbye.
"Mike and I both decided we didn't want to stay in the hospital so we spent the whole day wandering around Bristol to try and pass the time, but minutes honestly felt like hours."
The stay-at-home mum said her and Mike waited all day for the phone call to go and get their little girl.
"We tried to stay as positive as we could but it was extremely difficult.
"I felt like I was prepared for surgery day but words cannot describe the worry we went through," she said.
When little Aria was just 20-weeks, Natalie remembers nurses noticing they weren't able to get a clear scan reading.
"We had the appointment fairly soon after the scan, we were told not to worry as sometimes they just can't get a clear picture and it was just a precautionary measure to get checked out.
"We were not particularly worried, as my two other children were perfectly healthy and we didn't expect her to have a birth defect."
After being told about their little girl's condition, they were told she would have to be born in Bristol.
Natalie said the most worrying thing for her was going into pre-term labour, without a clear idea of how healthy her baby would be.
What is a heart defect?
Heart defects can stop the heart from working properly.
It's most commonly known as congenital heart disease.
The NHS states that it's one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting almost 1 in 100 babies born in the UK.
Congenital heart disease can have a number of symptoms, particularly in babies and children, including:
- rapid heartbeat
- rapid breathing
- swelling of the legs, tummy or around the eyes
- extreme tiredness and fatigue
- a blue tinge to the skin or lips (cyanosis)
- tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding
"We were told she would need surgery within days of being born so I prayed I made it to my induction date, which I did, so she could be born in the best place for her.
"Aria was born on the evening of the 10 of June in St Michael’s hospital, we managed to spend a bit of time with her before she was taken to the neonatal unit.
"She was born at 6lbs 8, a healthy weight. We were well informed ahead of time that she would be spending a few days in intensive care.
"If we hadn't had a diagnosis beforehand, we would never have guessed she had such a serious condition as she was absolutely perfect when born, and we expected the worst."
Now Aria has had surgery to fix her heart and Natalie said she recovered quickly.
She is now 16-weeks-old and doing 'amazing'.
The little girl has to have check-ups every two months to ensure the conduit she had fitted is working and that her blood is flowing correctly.
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Aria will need two further surgeries in the future and Natalie now wants to help raise some awareness on heart defects with the hopes of bringing "positivity to other families that are going through a similar situation".
Mike’s mother and sister are also running the Cardiff half marathon to try and help raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
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