March 18, 2019
When a mom named Jessica Trinkle was just over 23 weeks into her pregnancy, she learned that her baby boy, who she named Parker, had a lesion on his spinal cord. He was soon diagnosed with Spina Bifida, a type of neural tube defect (NTD) that affects the spine and is usually apparent at birth. But given the information Trinkle received before welcoming Parker, she obviously wanted to do everything she could for him, as soon as possible.
"In the midst of searching for any ounce of hope, I then came across myelomenigocele, a form of Spina Bifida that allows mothers to undergo open fetal surgery to prevent further damage," she told Scary Mommy.
According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, fetal Spina Bifida surgery is a "delicate procedure during which fetal surgeons open the uterus and close the opening in the baby's back while they are still in the womb. Fetal Spina Bifida surgery is shown to offer significantly better results than traditional repair after birth. Because spinal cord damage is progressive during gestation, prenatal repair of myelomeningocele may prevent further damage." They even have a video of the surgery being performed.
Trinkle explained to FOX8 that after learning more about the operation, she and her husband spoke with a specialist. “The neurosurgeon brought up fetal surgery, and my first words were, 'Yes, that’s what I need to do,'” she said. "'Let's do it.'"
She and her husband Spenser and their 2-year-old Aria traveled to Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. The health care providers there explained that this was the fourth surgery of its kind done at the hospital, but the doctor had already done 60 surgeries at other hospitals. Trinkle was 25 weeks along when she underwent the procedure.
“The surgery itself was extensive and consisted of a team of more than 13 doctors and nurses,” Trinkle explained. “Together, our surgeons made about a 10-inch incision into my abdomen, which is then followed by about a 5-inch incision into the uterus. Mock amniotic fluids are also infused constantly into the uterus to keep the fluid levels safe for Parker and me.”
The surgery went well, and afterward, Trinkle spent three weeks in Orlando recovering and following her medical team's orders. On February 6, when she was 37 weeks along, Parker was born via C-section. “I was so thankful that all these people in the room invested their time and knowledge into my son in helping give my son the best possible outcome in life,” she said.
Everything went so well, in fact, that Parker became the first baby in 70 years to be born with Spina Bifida and not admitted to the NICU.
To mark Parker's heartwarming arrival, EBU Photography captured the beautiful family of four in this stunning newborn shoot.
On March 6, Spenser took to the family's Facebook page Positively Parker to share a sweet update: “Today little man is 1 month and in that month our world has changed. Although at times that change has been overwhelming, I can honestly say he has made this family stronger than I ever knew possible. Of course I wish I could say my son was perfectly healthy and didn’t have ‘special needs,’ yet at the same time, I’ve come to realize: he is just that special.”