Fergus Cranston

Falyn finds it difficult to describe the first six months of motherhood.

Falyn Cranston was just 17 weeks pregnant when she received the news that would turn her world upside down. The joy of discovering she and her husband Peter were going to be parents to twin boys was soon tempered by the fact that one of the twins had a congenital heart defect.

The following months involved numerous trips to specialists, constant monitoring and agonising worry.

When the boys were finally delivered at 37 weeks, young Fergus was whisked away immediately. Five days later he was to have the first of many procedures to correct his tiny, broken heart.

Fergus was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome which means the left ventricle of his heart and his aorta did not develop properly and were very small.

Falyn finds it difficult to describe the first six months of motherhood. “Bloody hard doesn’t even begin to cover it,” she laughs, “I think someone needs to invent a new word.”

Fergus spent the first three months of his life at Auckland’s Starship and Wellington hospitals, and when he finally went home they pretty much had to quarantine themselves for fear of Fergus becoming ill. It was a tough, lonely time, helped by visits from local Heart Kids family support worker Annie, herself a mother of twins. A recent Heart Kids information evening held in Wellington meant she was able to talk with others who’ve found themselves in the same boat.

“You just can’t underestimate the emotional support you need. No one really understands what you’re going through unless they’ve walked in your shoes.”

Fergus recently had his second operation at Starship Hospital, and Falyn says she can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. “His next operation isn’t scheduled for a couple of years, so life is getting a little easier. But I know it is going to be a hard road ahead.”

Because Fergus has spent such a long period of time in hospital, he is slightly behind developmentally, but having a twin brother helps stimulate him.

“It’s not exactly how we imagined our first foray into parenthood, but as they say, the best laid plans often don’t work out the way you imagined.” Luckily husband Peter has been able to work from home and from beside Fergus’ hospital bed, giving Falyn another pair of hands to juggle the care of Fergus and his brother Finley.

Falyn took a years maternity leave from her job with the Health Quality and Safety Commission and she says her experience with Fergus, from the inside of the hospital system has been a real eye opener. She may return to work with some valuable insights. But six months is a long way off. “For us, it’s all about taking one day at a time, and being positive.”