• Wendy Valdez Opens Up About Her Son Who Was Born With Spina Bifida

    Wendy was four months pregnant when her son was diagnosed with spina bifida.
    by FM Ganal for Pep.ph .
  • It has been a year since Wendy Valdez revealed her son, Seth, still in her womb at that time, suffered from spina bifida, which literally means "split spine." But Wendy reports via Instagram that considering what her son has been through, he is doing well. "I know we still have a long road to walk through, but don't we all do?"

    Spina bifida is a neural tube defect where the baby's spinal column did not fully close, it usually happens towards the end of the pregnancy's first month, often when women don't even know they're pregnant. Wendy was four months along the way when an ultrasound revealed something was wrong.

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    In a post on Instagram last June 8, 2017, Wendy, whose birthday was last June 2, said she and her husband, Normann Garcia, were going for an ultrasound to find out about the baby's gender when "our excitement turned into pain. The doctor would not tell us what he knew, and we saw how his face dropped after that ultrasound."

    The cause of spina bifida is currently unknown, so there is no guaranteed way to prevent it. According to the Spina Bifida Association (SBA), doctors and scientists believe genetic and environmental factors may play a role in causing the condition. The American Pregnancy Association also sites some conditions that may increase the risk of a mother giving birth to a baby with spina bifida.

    study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that pregnant women who took folic acid at least one month before getting pregnant and throughout the first trimester could reduce the risk of the baby developing the condition by 50 percent. However, while taking folic acid is crucial, it does not altogether prevent spina bifida.

    In the same Instagram post, the former Pinoy Big Brother housemate said she was taking folic acid before she even got married. "I'm glad I did take folic acid. If not, I would have blamed myself for what happened to Seth," she admitted.

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    In celebration of Seth's first birthday last June 11, Wendy opened up about about how devastated she was when she first learned of Seth's condition in a series of video clips she posted on Instagram last June 14.

    She began, "When God blessed us with Seth, I was devastated to found out he has spina bifida. [It's] a condition that may not allow him to walk, urinate, or poop properly on his own. His hip bone is not in the right position, and he has mild hydrocephalus — all cost by an opening in his spine while he was still in the womb.

    "Most diagnosis we got every check-up were heartbreaking to hear, but every ultrasound, Seth would moved inside of me as if letting us know how excited he is to live.

    "I remember how I cried like I've never been to the Lord when I found out. It was like someone died. My dreams for him and me were the ones that actually did — running, walking, climbing mountains with him like in the movies or other seemingly perfect scenarios that I have pictured for our family. But life is never like a fairytale."

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    But Wendy and Norman kept their hopes up. She continued, "On June 11, 2017, Emmanuel Seth Garcia was born. He immediately underwent an operation to close his spine and go through surgery on his cyst. Seth spent a month in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). We did what we can do to manage his condition after that."

    Based on Wendy's account on the video, Seth's spina bifida falls under the spina bifida aperta type (aperta means "open" in Latin), which has two kinds: meningocele and myelomeningocele.

    Meningocele causes part of the spinal cord to come through the spine like a sac filled with nerve fluids that is pushed out. Babies with this kind of spina bifida may have health issues, such as bowel and bladder control and even muscle paralysis if their nerves are damaged. "The higher the opening is on the back, the more severe the paralysis can be," according to KidsHealth.

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    Myelomeningocele, on the other hand, is the most severe form of spina bifida, wherein parts of the spinal cord and nerves are protruding through an open part of the spine. This could cause more nerve damage and other disabilities such as muscle and bone problems and paralysis. 

    Most babies who have this condition accumulate too much fluid in the brain. They may also be diagnosed with hydrocephalus (a condition wherein there is too much fluid in the brain) because  their spinal cord is unable to drain it as it should. The fluid build-up causes pressure and swelling, which results in brain damage if left untreated.

    Wendy said Seth has mild hydrocephalus or an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain.

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    On Seth's second month, he wore a harness to align his hips. He then wore braces after that. "In the beginning, I was always afraid something is wrong with him when he cries. I'd get torn whenever doctors would say that his hip and head [were] not getting any better."

    Today, as Seth turned 1, Wendy said his head is "seemingly in the safe size" and may not require any operation. "His hips are finally in the right position after almost a year in braces, and his clubfoot is somehow corrected…"

    Wendy confessed, "I don't know how things will work out, but somehow I see the hand of God in what continues to happen — not just with Seth's healing, but more so in our hearts and our faith.

    "My dreams for Seth may have been shattered, but I know God's dreams for him remains. Seth is beautiful for us no matter what. A gift from the Lord.

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    This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. Additional text and edits have been made by the SmartParenting.com.ph editors.

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