My girl had a stroke before birth.. but now she's thriving; Mum tells of her pride in Karlie who's beaten all the odds after doctors' early diagnosis.
MShe can't quite believe how far her gorgeous 11-month-old has come.
Karlie suffered a stroke before she was even born and doctors feared she might be left deaf, blind and unable to walk.
But 11 months on, she's thriving , and even though she has a weakness in her left shoulder, she can see and hear, is beginning to talk and will soon be walking unaided.
Strokes from 28 weeks of pregnancy and in children up to 18 years affect about five out of every 100,000 youngsters a year in the UK.
Thankfully doctors at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill identified the problem and so Karlie could receive quick help, which Cheryl is convinced has boosted her progress.
Cheryl, 24, from Carluke, Lanarkshire, has raised more than PS2600 for Yorkhill Children's Charity and will take part in the Yorkhill Sponsored Walk today in Glasgow to raise even more funds as away of saying thank you.
During her pregnancy, Cheryl was checked out a couple of times in hospital because she worried about her baby's lack of movement but was reassured all was fine.
She gave birth at Wishaw General Hospital last September after being induced because her baby was overdue.
"She was perfect," recalled Cheryl. "It was the happiest day of my life. She was beautiful with quite a lot of hair. She never cried much - she just kept staring at me with her big blue eyes."
But in the night, Cheryl noticed Karlie appeared to be punching the air with her left hand.
"I told a midwife but she said that sometimes happens. I noticed she was still doing it half an hou r later so I told the midwife again and she called a paediatrician. The next thing, Karlie was whisked away to special care for tests and to be monitored.
"No one was sure what it was. She seemed to be having seizures , which can apparently happen in newborns, and they also ran tests for meningitis and infections.
"She had to have a feeding tube and they monitored her brain and heart and she was put on a ventilator to help her breathe.
"I was in shock looking at her with all the tubes and monitors on her - it was heart-breaking.
"I sat through the night with her, holding her hand through a hole in the incubator."
Karlie had another long seizure and doctors decided to transfer her to Yorkhill for further tests. Finally an MRI scan revealed she had had a stroke in the womb.
"It was a shock to hear she'd had a stroke and also that it happened in the womb. I thought it was only older people who had strokes," said Cheryl.
"Doctors said they didn't know what caused it. I wondered if it was the pressure of labour and then I blamed myself because I thought it was something I'd done during pregnancy. But the doctors in Yorkhill quickly reassured me it was nothing I could have done and couldn't have been prevented.
"They don't know exactly when it happened but it was at some point before she was born. But they couldn't tell me the extent of the damage, which was frightening.
They warned that there was a possibility she might not be able to walk and could have hearing, speech and sight problems. At first I thought, 'Why has it happened to us?' I felt so emotional. It was heart-breaking the thought that she might not live the life she might want and that I'd want for her.
But I refused to give up hope. I thought, 'As long as I spend time with her, she will be the best she can be'.
Karlie was transferred back to Wishaw General and a week later was allowed home.
Cheryl was convinced fairly early on that her daughter wasn't blind or deaf and tests confirmed this. Doctors did learn Karlie had been left with a weakness in her left shoulder - but Cheryl took her to lots of activities, which she felt helped her development.
"If Yorkhill hadn't discovered she'd had a stroke, I probably wouldn't have done so much with her when she was so young. And she was immediately referred for physio, which helped, too.
"At the beginning, she wouldn't turn her head to the left - but did could little with eventually. At four months she started rolling over one side and two months later managed the other side. That was a massive milestone because it meant the muscle on her left shoulder was building up. She's never crawled but she does the bum shuffle.
"I took her to lots of classes from baby sensory and yoga to swimming to make sure she had lots of stimulation every day. As I started when she was so young I think that's helped her quite a bit.
"I probably would have still taken her to classes even if I hadn't known about the stroke. But I'm so grateful I knew what happened early enough, it meant I could work that little bit extra with her."
Now Karlie's finding her feet and looks like she will soon be walking unaided. "She's a wee bit unsteady and the weakness in her left shoulder means she doesn't use her left hand very much. Her thumb on that hand is tucked underneath her fingers so she wears a splint for a couple of hours a day to try to bring it back out.
"Her right hand is very dominant and she uses it all the time so she'll probably be right-handed. But I'm trying to encourage her to use her left, too.
"But she'll hold my hand and walk alongside me. And she's just started feeding herself.
"If I had been given an article about a baby who'd had a stroke who was achieving so much, it would have given me hope at the time. At the beginning I was so full of doubts about the future.
"I want to give other people hope. I call Karlie my little miracle. When I think back to nearly a year ago and what happened, I can't believe how far we've come.
"She's beautiful. She has a cheeky smile, lots of curls and still has her big blue eyes.
"She said 'Mama' and can clap her hands and high-five. She's reaching all the milestones we weren't sure she'd make. After what she went through, I'm more than happy with this outcome.
"We take each day as it comes and every day she does something new and she's thriving. I want her to go on being happy and healthy."
Cheryl works as a cashier at Tesco in Carluke and the store raised more than PS1000 at a recent fundraising day for the Yorkhill charity. And in today's sponsored walk, she'll be pushing Karlie in her buggy alongside a group of friends and family - with sponsorship money already at more than PS1600. She's hoping to hit a total of PS3000 for the charity.
"I'll always be grateful to Yorkhill - they saved Karlie's future by diagnosing the fact she'd had a stroke so she could start treatment quickly and give her the best chance with physio. If we'd had to wait, she might not have made so much progress.
grateful what early meant I that extra her "Now 11 months on, I have a beautiful, clever daughter who has beaten all the odds. She is fighting fit and thriving every day. She can hear, see and has found her feet - even if still a bit shaky. All she has is a weakness in her left shoulder but physio helps. "Karlie lights up everyone's day with her smile. Thanks to Yorkhill, Karlie and the rest of my family were given the care, support and answers we wanted so now it's time to give something back as a massive thank you."
AD? Fundraising is at www.justgiving.com/karlie
For information about strokes, ring the helpline on 0303 3033 100 or go to stroke.org.uk
Yorkhill Sponsored Walk takes place in Glasgow over a five or 10 mile distance taking in iconic and historic landmarks to raise vital funds for children and babies from all over Scotland. To find out more, visit www.yorkhill.org
"Now have other I'm so grateful I knew what happened early enough. It meant I could work that little bit extra with her CHERYL ADAM
PROUD... Mum Cheryl says little Karlie has made amazing progress