When Kristella Marios went to the doctor’s for her 12-week pregnancy scan, she was excited.
The 27-year-old mother, from Ballarat, was out of the ‘danger zone’ for miscarriages and happy to see how her little girl was progressing.
But the routine scan did not go as hoped.
Rather than seeing a healthy, growing baby on the monitor, doctors were alerted to something worrying.
They ran further tests and a week later Ms Marios and her partner, William, were told their child had gastroschisis, a condition where the organs grow outside the body.
‘It’s a birth defect which means her intestines and bowel are growing outside of her body through a hole in her stomach,
They have one child together, an eight-year-old son, and William has two children with a previous partner.
Neither of them had experienced any medical issues like this with their kids before.
Soon after they were confronted with a heart wrenching decision – if they wanted to keep the baby.
‘The doctors asked if I wanted to have an abortion,’ Ms Marios revealed.
‘It’s one of the hardest questions you are asked, but I never had a feeling I wanted to do that.’
Because of their decision to continue with the pregnancy, the couple were told their daughter will have to be operated on as soon as she’s born, to put her tiny organs back into her body.
Ms Marios, who is currently 30 weeks pregnant, will have a caesarean section in six weeks so her daughter can have the life-saving surgery.
But it has been a difficult pregnancy, physically, emotionally and financially.
‘It makes you overthink everything,’ Ms Marios said.
‘Every day you worry that more organs might be coming out of her belly, because as she grows it can get worse.’
‘But she’s also not as big as she should be because of it. She’s only about 800 grams at the moment but she should be 1.5 kilos.
‘She’d not getting the nutrition normal babies do, and that’s stressful.’
Ms Marios is still working full time in hospitality, as well as attending doctors appointments twice a week in Melbourne, a hour and a half away.
This is even more difficult for the family doesn’t have a reliable car to be able to travel to the hospital, meaning they have to rely on others to get around.
Not only is it tough financially for the family now, but after their daughter is born she will have to be in hospital for at least four weeks and potentially have more surgeries.
‘The hardest thing is we’re going to be in two different hospitals,’ the mum explained. ‘After she’s born she’ll go to the children’s hospital and I won’t be able to go over straight away and see her.
‘She’ll be there for four weeks to start. She might need one surgery or five, we don’t know yet.’
While the road ahead of the family is long, Ms Marios is just determined to get her little ‘miracle baby’ home.