Ariella was born on the 21 April 2003, eight weeks premature (32.2 weeks gestation). Her first five days of life were spent in the neo-natal intensive care unit of the Mercy Hospital for Women. Ariella was unable to breath unassisted which involved full respiration for two days then half respiration for the following three days. In this time the nursing staff noticed her unusual cry and other physical characteristics, which lead to a chromosomal test. On the fifth day of Ariella’s life (Anzac Day) we were told the news of her Cri Du Chat syndrome.
We were in shock for quite some time, yet my first question to the doctors was, ‘Does this syndrome lead to significant health problems?’ Thankfully for Ariella all the health issues associated with the syndrome were eliminated. For the next eight weeks we travelled to the hospital daily to feed and cuddle our daughter. Slowly her lungs developed and after six weeks on oxygen she was able to breath on her own. Another hurdle we faced was feeding Ariella. As she was so premature, Ariella found it very hard to stay awake for a feed and her swallowing reflex was another obstacle. Ariella was feeding half by breast feeding and the other by bottle feeding when we took her home, three days after her due date.
Now Ariella is a very active and happy six month-old baby. She still struggles to swallow and we have noticed development delay in both communication and motor skills. We are currently receiving therapy from the special children’s services for both speech pathology and physiotherapy. We are also looking around for early intervention for Ariella to start.
Ariella is a very loved and cherished girl from both her extended family and friends. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the families from this support group. Their willingness to share their experiences has helped us to be very positive about Ariella’s future.