Linka was born on 11 April 2011, and we were so excited to introduce her to her older sister, Cloe, who was two years old at that stage.
The birth went well, and I could not wait to get back to my room, so I could hold my new baby. Things were pretty rough after her birth. That same night, Linka started choking while she was sleeping and I rushed over and started pulling on what looked like gall strings. I did not make a big fuss considering I have never been a paranoid mother. I thought it might just be some amniotic fluid that could have caused an upset stomach.
During our time in hospital, we had a constant struggle with the feeds, but still I wasn’t too bothered by this seeing that Cloe also struggled with feeds in the beginning. By Friday she was totally dehydrated, but the doctors felt that it was safe to take her home. That Friday night my mother came to visit and was shocked at how Linka looked and suggested we rush Linka back to hospital immediately.
We arrived at Panorama Mediclinic and Linka was put on a drip and blood tests were done immediately. The paediatrician on call suspected that Linka was suffering from severe reflux and kept her on a drip throughout the weekend. She was discharged that Monday.
After that we went from breast milk to bottle and bought every single brand of milk on the market, and still the vomiting just became worse. I took Linka for her check-up at the breastfeeding clinic, and they almost had a heart attack when I told them that I was feeding her rooibos tea and rice cereal (that was the only form of food that she was keeping down). So after giving me a good piece of their mind (never mind me being a nervous wreck because my child is constantly vomiting and not gaining any weight ), they sent the doctor an email raising their concerns about LInka’s poor weight gain and the fact that I am feeding her rooibos and rice cereal. We then had another appointment with this doctor, but still no worries – she was still diagnosed with reflux.
By August 2011, after three hospital admissions since April for dehydration, Linka was admitted once again. They inserted a nasogastric tube and fed her something called Infitrini, to boost her weight. As soon as they opened that flow, she vomited profusely. After three days my little angel face looked like an alien with eyes sunken into her skull and as pale as the linen on the hospital bed. They then inserted another tube to do a ph. Study and still the vomiting continued. By the Thursday the doctor asked for a second opinion and did a metabolic screening. Test results came back and showed an ammonia level of 401. He called another doctor at Red Cross Children’s hospital for their opinion, and he said that it was not possible, Linka should have been in a coma with those levels. So they ignored the blood results, and by the next morning my 4 month old baby girl was in a coma.
We had to make a decision on which hospital to transfer to, and were taken to Tygerberg Hospital NICU. After many prayers and blood tests, they finally diagnosed Linka with OTC Deficiency.
Although Linka suffers from severe brain damage and physical impairment as an aftermath of the coma, she is the light of our lives and has taught us about grace, hope and unconditional love. When she laughs, it turns the worst day into the best day ever.