My name is Kimberly Sadler. In 2011, after being told by doctors that I would never be able to carry a child full-term, that any attempts to have a child would most likely result in a miscarriage, and while using 2 types of contraception, I became pregnant. I was immediately assigned to High-Risk OB-Gyn, Dr. Chaffin, at Marshall University Medical Center at Cabell-Huntington Hospital in West Virginia. During my ultrasound at around 16 weeks, my doctor noticed an abnormality in my son’s abdomen & positively identified the issue as the birth-defect Gastroschisis. Due to this additional complication, I had numerous check-ups to ensure Alex was growing properly, to keep an eye on the organs that were exposed to the amniotic fluid & to monitor the pregnancy in itself as my uterus is not fully capable of sustaining a pregnancy to full-term. My body at any time could have a negative reaction to the changes a female body endures during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters and result in miscarriage; the Doctors cautioned me that in an emergency they may need to medically end the pregnancy if it deemed a risk to my life. Fortunately, the doctors and staff at Cabell-Huntington Hospital are renowned for providing excellent care for mothers in high risk pregnancies & for the care of children born with numerous health complications, including Gastroschisis. I had a scheduled cesarean section for February 7, 2012 but on February 1st, the day before my birthday, my water broke. I thought that under the weight of the baby, my bladder had given out and I had just peed allover myself, but to be safe, my husband called our Doctor and we were instructed to immediately check in to the Labor & Delivery unit. At 6:36 pm our son was born! He weighed 5lbs 14oz and was 18 inches long! The stay in the NICU was mentally and physically draining. We knew he was being cared for by the best our area had to offer, he had the best Pediatric Surgeon, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, and Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Mozafarri, but we wanted our son home. His stay was extended so long in part due to his inability to pass stool, he expelled meconium for almost 2 weeks after birth. After that, he had issues with holding down feedings. This eventually all worked itself out and 53 days later, we were finally able to bring our son home.
During this ordeal, my father-in-law found Avery’s Angels Gastroschisis Foundation. Like many others, I had never heard of Gastroschisis & was absolutely terrified and overwhelmed with “What-Ifs” and overwhelming guilt that this was somehow my fault, that I had done something wrong in my pregnancy that caused this to happen to my son. Through the emotional support of AAGF, I learned I was not alone and that any time I needed support, there were people willing to just listen. Now that we are 4 years (as of 2/1/2016) into our journey of living life affected by Gastroschisis, I want to use our experience to help support others in my area who are also affected by Gastroschisis and help bring awareness to this birth-defect that is on the rise.