Meet the Morris Family

March of Dimes Birth Defects Morris Family


Not every pregnancy goes according to plan. Unfortunately, too many families—families like the Morrises—have a baby born with a birth defect. Brandi and Derek’s daughter, Tatum, was born with a frontal encephalocele, a small hole in the front of her skull where her brain continued growing through the opening.

“It’s not hereditary,” Brandi says. “As far as prevention, I was taking folic acid. All my blood work was always normal—nothing really concerned us until we went to our 4D elective ultrasound and found it, and we moved to the high-risk category at that point. We were very scared when we left that appointment.” Their OB referred them to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, and they had to switch doctors mid-pregnancy.

Tatum was born via C-section, and Brandi and Derek were anticipating a brain surgery. However, she didn’t have to go to the NICU right away. “After she was born, the medical team checked her out and said she was healthy and could go to the regular floor with us and that the surgery would wait until she was about two or three months old,” Brandi says.

She had her first neurosurgery at two and a half months old, and she luckily only spent one night in the ICU. “They removed a pretty sizable portion of non-functional left frontal lobe, and then patched the hole that was in her skull with some borrowed bone,” Brandi recalls.

Tatum is almost four years old, and she’s doing great today. “She had her most recent surgery this February. They worked on the spacing of her eyes and the positioning of her eyebrows to kind of make them a little more normal. She may be looking at one additional surgery. And if she does, it will likely just be a rhinoplasty—reconstruction of her nose and nasal bridge.”

“We're huge supporters of March of Dimes and the research that goes into things like neural tube defects like Tatum was born with that may help finding what caused it,” Derek says. The Morrises hope that by sharing their story they’ll help raise awareness around birth defects that will help parents as they’re navigating pregnancy. “I went into pregnancy thinking nothing will happen to us,” Brandi says. “We'd done everything that we could to prepare, but it does happen.”

March of Dimes educates families on the actions to take to have a healthy pregnancy and baby so that every family can have the best possible start.

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