Tayla Grace is going strong

2013-06-21 00:00

AT three years old, Pietermaritzburg’s favourite little fighter Tayla Grace Geddes is still going strong.

In 2010, three days after Tayla was born, doctors discovered that she had three holes in her heart and a deviated septum. When she was three months old, Tayla had open heart surgery to fix the holes and reconstruct the missing septum.

Heather Geddes, Tayla’s mother, had a long, rough journey with her baby’s road to recovery, but says it is all worth it. “Tayla still can’t crawl, talk or eat on her own and she is delayed with her milestones, but she will get there. When we place her toy box in front of her she can take things out on her own; she is definitely learning.”

Geddes, a single working mother, says she draws strength from her family and friends who have been her support network throughout the years. Although she is no longer with Tayla’s father, he is still very supportive of his daughter.

“I receive big support from my parents. They take care of Tayla when I am at work. I have such amazing friends and family who are always there for me and Tayla. I belong to a support network on Facebook and BBM. It’s great because we can really help each other. We are in the same situation and can give each other advice. Often we will be chatting through the night because our babies are awake at that time.”

It’s not always easy for Geddes: “My lows have been watching other children running around and eating and praying that one day TG [her nickname for her daughter] will be able to run up to me and hug me, and that she will nag me for sweets or ice-cream. I sometimes see parents moaning at their kids in the shops because they want a treat, and I would do anything for TG to do that to me.”

But every day is a high point for Geddes: “I remember just before she went in for her heart surgery, the doctors told me to say goodbye, because there was a big chance she wouldn’t make it. I was looking at her and crying, and she reached out and touched my face. It was as if she was comforting me, like she was saying it was going to be okay. I still get butterflies when I come home from work; I get so excited to see my beautiful girl.”

Neville Geddes, Tayla’s grandfather, had to tell Geddes to stop phoning home all the time to check on Tayla: “When Heather first returned to work it was fine, but she doesn’t need to call all the time any more. Tayla is determined. She knows what she wants. When you give her a toy she doesn’t want she throws it. She is so strong; she has a guardian angel watching over her.”

“She is just so special to us,” said Anne Geddes, Tayla’s grandmother, as she smiled at her granddaughter.

Tayla is fed through a tube in her stomach and goes for physiotherapy twice a week to help her learn how to crawl. Her heart has healed nicely; she has one hole left in her heart that her doctor says will close on its own. The scars on her chest from the open heart surgery have also healed, and are very faint.

Tayla still needs some surgery to fix her bad reflux, and then she can be taught how to swallow on her own.

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