Mom With A Message

Gwen Hartley is now a proud mother, with 3 wonderful children. Married to her high school sweetheart Scott, from Kansas, they both had always envisioned creating a perfect life for themselves. After giving birth to her first child without complications, it would seem that they were well on their way, or so they thought.

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Girls Born Defect Microcephaly Family Birth

Image: Washington Post

When Gwen got pregnant with her second child, Claire, at 19 weeks, she went in to get a sonogram to make sure the baby was healthy. Everything, as far as doctors were concerned, checked out normal on the scans and their hope for the perfect life continued.

When Claire was born, however, almost immediately, doctors came in the room and snatched baby Claire from out of her mother’s arms. It was at that point she knew something had to be wrong, all the dreams they had of their perfect life that seemed so close- were being carried away into another room of the hospital.

After misdiagnosing the problem several times, doctors finally came up with a diagnosis, Claire had Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare condition that causes an “abnormal smallness of the head, it is a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.” The diagnosis can be a death sentence, with most children not living past the age of 1.

To their great joy, Claire had defied the odds. She couldn’t speak, or walk or even sit upright, but she had become a happy and vibrant 5-year-old. This gave the Hartleys hope, and despite the issues Claire has had, they found themselves ready to try again.

It wasn’t long before Gwen was pregnant with her 3rd child. This time, they felt more prepared than ever, and with this pregnancy, they were determined to go through as much testing as possible. According to the Washington Post, “at their “26-week sonogram, the doctors told them their third child’s head was too small, five weeks behind what was considered normal, and that she certainly also had microcephaly.

The Hartley’s were stunned at the news, not knowing how to feel, only that their dream life they had so long imagine had almost all but deflated.

Microcephaly has generally been a rare diagnosis. With only about 25,000 cases reported in the U.S. A new headline, that has been in the news lately however, is changing the face and profile of the disease.There are now “thousands of women in Brazil reportedly having babies diagnosed with the birth defect, due to the rare mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Zika Virus has been declared by the World Health Organization as an International health crisis and the are warning women that live near infected mosquito born areas, not to get pregnant. The Hartley family may not be picture perfect, but they are a happy and growing family. Claire is now 15-years-old, and their youngest Lola is 10 and that in itself is a miracle.

Girls Born Birth Defect Microcephaly Disease Birth Survive Miracle

Image: Washington Post

The Hartleys are glad there is now some awareness being raised about Microcephaly. The Zika virus has brought the birth-defect into the forefront of talks and discussion, and that is a good thing. In a phone interview with Washington Post, Scott Hartley explained, “Part of me is grateful for the awareness of something we’ve been dealing with for 15 years, part of me feels sad for the families because I know what they’ve been through, twice. It’s been really emotional. At the same time, I know the joy that can come from having these kids. I wouldn’t purposely want another child to be affected, but I’m happy that they’ll know what I know. I would not have chosen it prior to my girls, but I didn’t know what I was missing out on.”

The Hartley have started a blog where they share family pictures, stories, and give updates on the children, that you can see here. Gwen hopes that it could serve as a source of inspiration for all the new families facing the disease that may not know where to turn for advice. At least they hope it can go to show that you can still have the perfect family that you always dreamed of, despite a child of yours being diagnosis of Microcephaly.

Article/Video: Washington Post