BEING told there's something wrong with your baby's every parent's worst nightmare.
But for Peta Tease, it only filled her with more love for her unborn child as she wowed to everything she could to look after him.
Speaking to Kidspot.com.au, the 28-year-old from Sydney, Australia, reveals what it was like to get that devastating phone call from her doctor and life with her son Oliver …
TEARS streamed down my face in the sonographer's office as I cradled my precious bump.
Moment earlier, she discovered my baby boy had a cleft lip during a routine 19-week scan. I want to understand it.
A harmony test at 11 weeks showed no abnormalities and my first son, Jax, 7, was born perfectly healthy.
“Will I be able to love this baby like I love Jax?” I wondered for a brief moment. But it was just a knee-jerk reaction because the truth was, I already did.
When the obstetrician called me from home at 7pm the next evening, a cold chill ran down my spine.
As if a cleft lip was enough, it turned out my baby had heart problems as well.
An amniocentesis confirmed everything.
The obstetrician warned me it was going to be a hard style. Our baby didn't have one hole in the heart but two.
As I got up to leave, he asked if he could give me a hug “because you are going to need it for the journey you are going on”.
Then I burst into tears all over again. Never change him for the world.
As my baby bump grew, the shock became dissipated and I was comforted by the knowledge of survival rates for my son's congenital heart issues were very good.
I vowed to love my precious son despite his cleft. I had no idea to love him even more because of it.
Oliver was born on May 21, 2018 weighing a healthy 3.2kg (7lbs). He had 15 birth defects, mainly involving his face and heart.
The cleft affected his lip, palates and cheek all the way up to his eye socket, and his left ear was deformed on the outside.
Gazing into that perfect little face, I realized never changed Oliver for the world.
When he was 18 days old I was thrilled to finally be allowed home. Like all proud mums, I wanted to show my baby off to the world.
Gazing into that perfect little face, I realized never changed Oliver for the world
My friends and our community smothered us with love, but we had some very insensitive comments from strangers.
One was: “amazing what plastic surgeons can do these days.” That really upset me because I had no intention of ever hiking Oliver's cleft, or his face, or any of his defects.
Another person asked: “Did you know when you were pregnant?” As if to insinuate I should have aborted Oliver.
But the most confronting commentary on everything was from a brutally honest six-year-old girl at Jax's school.
I was talking to her parents when she said, "Oh look a baby." She looked inside the pram and went, "Eeww, he looks gross. He looks like a freak. Mum he looks weird."
I was so overwhelmed with shock and horror, I just left.
The thought of my baby boy starting school and having to endure this kind of cruelty was sickening.
I had to do something.
Taking to the school Facebook page, I recounted what happened and asked parents to show Oliver's picture to their children and teach them that even though Oliver may look different, he was just like them on the inside.
The positive responses I got back blew me away. Many of the parents told me their children thought Oliver was absolutely gorgeous and understood why anyone would mean to him.
As a proud mum said exactly what I wanted to hear.
Oliver has such a happy and resilient child.
He sailed through open heart surgery at four-and-a-half months old and started crawling six weeks later.
What is congenital heart disease?
Congenital heart disease is a general term for a range of birth defects that affect the normal way of the heart works.
The term "congenital" means the condition is present from birth.
Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting up to 8 in every 1,000 babies born in the UK.
Congenital heart disease may 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 (cyanosis)
- tired and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding
These problems are sometimes noticeable soon after birth, although mild defects may not cause any problems until later in life.
Treatment for congenital heart disease usually depends on the defect you or your child has.
Mild defects, such as holes in the heart, often do not need to be treated, as they may improve on their own and may not cause any further problems.
Surgery or interventional procedures are usually required if the defect is significant and causing problems.
Modern surgical techniques can often restore most or all of the heart's normal function.
However, people with congenital heart disease often need treatment throughout their lives and therefore require specialist examination during childhood and adulthood.
This is because people with complex heart problems can develop further problems with their heart rhythm or valves over time.
I was really torn about his cleft repair surgery in March this year because although I knew he would help him feed, I loved his face just the way it was.
However, when we got that first smile forever two days after his surgery, I just melted. He's doing just fine.
Oliver is now 14 months old and despite all the challenges he has faced, he is absolutely thriving.
He was walking on his first birthday and now he just wants to run everywhere.
He even says “Mummy” despite all his cleft issues. He’s such a little champ and that cheeky smile of his lights up the room.
Although he physically attached to my breast and had a tube fed, I wanted Oliver to benefit from breast milk, so I decided to pump instead.
Although wanted to smash that bloody pump on occasion, over the last 14 months pumped over 600 liters and clocked up 1150 hours.
Now got enough breast milk in the freezer to keep Oliver going past the age of two.
He will need more surgery in the future, but my biggest fear is Oliver starting school and the discrimination he will face – which is why sharing his story today.
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I just want Oliver to be treated like a normal child because he is a normal child. It just looks different.
The version of this article first appeared on Kidspot.com.au and has been republished with permission
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