The Southern Cross : December 09
Page 8 December 2009 The Southern Cross www.adelaide.catholic.org.au feature By Jeremy Roberts Adelaide couple Andrea and Nic Bishop are d e t e r mined that as many people as possible know the name of their new daughter: Lilah Sophie. Baby Lilah was born under a medical cloud -- one of a handful of babies who develop a tumor in their pituitary gland while in utero . The exper ts suggested that she may not surv i v e her birth, on October 20, but she has since taught doctors a lesson in sur vival, and delighted her p a r ents with her pro g res s, arriving home for the first time, aged five weeks, on Wednesday, November 25. " W e are very grateful to be at this stage now, after so much struggle to be bringing Lilah home is a g reat and unexpected development," Nic said. Although Lilah's medical future is still uncert a i n , as doctors monitor the size of her brain tumor, the Bishops are taking each day as it comes, happy to have their third daughter home at last. "We want to get on with our life as a family of five. Since we believed her life would be so short we want to enjoy everymoment, not wrap her up in cotton wool, but let her be a vital part of the noise, laughter and chaos of our young family," Andrea said. "We will see what the futureholds." While mother and baby have recently returned home, the Bishop's life will never be the same again. It all star ted at the 20- week ultrasound scan, when doctors diagnosed the tumor, called a craniopharyngioma. For the next 14 weeks, until Lilah's bir th, the Bishops were told a range of medical p r edictions, some contradictory, including that Lilah would not draw breath after being born . C o n f ronted with medical advice that no pare n t s could pre p a re for, the Bishops erred on the side of hope. A n d r ea, 36, was determined to plan her p r egnancy so that Lilah could meet her two loving p a r ents, and live the life that God intended. As the pregnancy pro g res sed the tumor gre w, feeding on the hormones created by Andre a ' s body. A n d rea carried the baby for as long as possible b e f o r e Lilah's head size would have prevented a natural bir t h . "I wanted a natural delivery so that I could be physically mobile, hold Lilah straight afterw a rd s and, if necessary, follow her to the intensive care unit," Andrea said. As it has turned out, fate would defy the best laid plans of parents and the predictions of doctors. The story is explained in a series of letters Andre a has written to her new daughter, from the time of her diagnosis at 20-weeks gestation. They re c o rd in detail her love for her new daughter but also what she went through because of that love. Writing to Lilah about the drawn-out induced labor, A n d rea recalls not wanting to go through with the b i r th: "I was becoming very tired and was confused about my reasoning for being here. I didn'twant to deliver you. I knew that once you w e re born your life was no longer in my contro l and that while you remained in me you were safe. " "I was terribly unsure of my decision but guided by the doctors saying that this was the right time to have you." Lilah was born and all of Andrea's and Nic's doubts and worries evaporated as the air filled with the sound of Lilah's first cries. "The pain in my side was nothing compared to the way I felt when I heard you cry. " "That moment will be with me fore v e r . You cried out loud, the little girl who, we were told, would p robably not breathe actually cried and was alive and looking at me!" While baby Lilah cried her first tears, Andre a was not able to hold her. Andrea's uterus had ruptured and began to haemorrage causingthe doctors grave concern . While Nic accompanied Lilah to the neo-natal intensive care unit of the Women'sandChildren's Hospital, Andrea lapsed into unconsciousness. Andreawentintocardiac a r rest and, but for the manual stemming of blood from her heart by a team of surgeons, would have died on the operating table. She lost 15 litres of blood and, hear t - b r eakingly for Andre a and Nic, who planned to have more childre n , surgeons found it necessarytoperforman emergencyhysterectomy. Due to complications stemming from the e m e r gency surg e r y, Andrea has undergone two further operations, which meant she returned home at the same time as Lilah, in the last week of November. Lilah's future is uncer tain -- because of the rarity of her condition no-one, including medical specialists, know what will happen next. Nic and Andrea know that the best predictions of medicine are not set in stone, and are asking people to pray for Lilah. A n d rea, a Catholic, and Nic, raised Anglican, regularly attend Our Lady of Delours parish c h u rch, Kingswood, with their two other daughters Jemima, 3, and Madeline, 2. Andrea is on leave f rom teaching at Mercedes College. Lilah was baptised by Father Michael Brennan at Our Lady of Delours. "Lilah, I say your name over in my head," Andre a writes in one of her letters. "I am so grateful for the gift of you." Praying for Lilah GRATEFUL: Nick, Andrea, Jemima and Madeline enjoy their time with Lilah Sophie.