Friday, 24 March 2017

I K n e w I t W a s G o i n g T o B e B a d ..... B u t N o t T h a t B a d ! !

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I was 32 weeks pregnant when I started to bleed...

I’d been here before with my first child… I knew it was placenta previa before I had even had the diagnosis. It wasn’t a large bleed, but I decided to head to the Womens Centre where I would get checked out, monitored and then sent home with instructions to “rest” (yeah right, I have a 3.5 year old too!) 

Before I knew it the midwife was urgently contacting the Consultant and I felt another gush of blood. I called the midwife back and this time she bashed the alarm and every available midwife and doctor literally came running. All of a sudden I was being prepped for theatre and it seemed as if baby might arrive before my husband would be able to get to the hospital! At this point I was scared. Very scared. Bizarrely though, all I could think of as I was being rushed from Triage to Delivery room was my car…..! I’d just parked it in the multistory car park and if I went into surgery now how much was it going to cost to get the car out again when I could next drive it (stupid really as reality is my husband drove it home the next day!) Fortunately this bleed stopped and I was left to rest on delivery suite overnight and transferred to maternity ward the following day…. And there I stayed for a very eventful 6 weeks. 

Two weeks later, at 34+6, it was decided that it would be best if baby were born, by elective c-section, to prevent further risk of bleeds. She had been inside long enough for the steroid injections (ouch!) to work and with the added complication of Obstetric Cholestasis it was deemed safer for baby to be born than remain inside. I was dreading the birth as I had this horrible feeling something was going to go wrong ….. 

I remember seeing my baby girl being shown to me over the sheet screen and feeling immensely proud. However, moments after that I suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. Cardiac arrest. I’d not known “what” the bad was going to be the day she was born, and not in a million years could I have guessed AFE – I had never heard of it before, yet it happened to me and I was very ill for the next 4 weeks. Immediately I was intubated and surgery continued for 8 hours. I woke 36hrs later, on intensive care unit, to the news that I had had to have a lifesaving subtotal hysterectomy due to an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. 

But …. at least I had woken.

 All my family were gathered in the hospital, as it was touch and go, I might not have pull through it - statistics told the staff that my chances were not good! Yet, here I am today writing this blog.

 It’s not been easy. Far from it. I spent the following 4 weeks on a potent cocktail of IV antibiotics from a highly resistant infection. I had tubes where I should have already had tubes of my own and felt so mixed about inside I wondered quite how the anatomy was ever going to function fully again. 

Emotionally I was a complete mess and this lasted far longer than any of the physical difficulties I faced. Midwifes all around me were so utterly amazing. They sat, they talked with me, they hugged and some even shed a tear with me. Most said words to the effect of “only read about AFE in textbooks at college” It’s that rare and “lucky to be alive”! 

I had such a range of emotions. I was truly humbled in the immediate aftermath. I could not get my head around how the hospital had fought for soooo long to keep me alive. 

Why did they not just give up?

 I felt robbed. Now, having said that I also feel guilty, for I am alive

I never did get to experience a newborn cuddle with either of my babies, as either they or I were too unwell at the time. I will never again get the chance to be pregnant and have another chance of those magical first snuggles. 

Yet, overall, with almost 4 years having passed, I can honestly say the whole experience has made me stronger! I live in the moment more. Sound like a cliché? I suppose it does, but it’s true! 

I am happier now than I have been for the last 20 years! 

I have a husband and two girls who I love to bits. 

We are happy as we are.

Counselling and scrapbooking my experience have helped immensely to allow me to put the experience of 2013 behind us. When I do feel the need to remember, I will get the scrap book out, look at the photos my own mother took of me in intensive care, read the letters, the emails and personal accounts from friends and family. Then, I close the book. Carefully place it back on the bookcase and leave it there until the next time I need to remember.

The duration between each “need to remember” is growing. In fact, I think it has almost been 8 months since I last felt the need to get the scrapbook down off the shelf.

I can finally let go of the memories that dominated my every waking hour content in the knowledge that it is all safe in that book.

 #endafe | | 27th March 2017 AFE Awareness

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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Why Counselling?

Recently I read an article by the daughter of a lady who had given birth to a baby girl 40 years ago. Sadly the baby died at 2 days old and the mother had never spoken about it until very recently. The daughter was vaguely aware of this child but as her Mum had never talked about her she knew little of the circumstances and was shocked to learn that her Mum had never been told anything about why things went wrong at the end of a healthy full term pregnancy, only a hazy memory of losing the placenta and being pushed back on the bed screaming. The funeral was arranged by others whilst she was still in hospital, without her even seeing her baby, and no-one ever talked about her. The daughter had recently had a baby herself and was upset when she realised her Mum had never had the chance to grieve over the loss of her baby and had carried the heavy weight of her sadness and trauma around with her for so many years. This had impacted on her relationships and she had subsequently gone through an acrimonious divorce.  

The birth of her grandchild had prompted this lady’s memories of the baby that she had lost. Traumatic events can result in people burying their emotions and unconsciously they work hard to keep them locked away because the feelings of grief, fear and loss are too hard to bear. This can be an effective coping mechanism but these repressed feelings are still there and can have a negative impact on how people live their lives.

Hopefully these days we have moved on and much more understanding and support is available when someone loses a baby.  Losing a baby can be so terribly painful and whilst National organisations and social media have raised awareness and sensitivity many people still feel they cannot share the agony of their grief. Family and friends feel helpless in the face of what no parent should ever have to go through or are worried about saying the ‘wrong thing’ so say nothing. Parents are left feeling isolated, that they should move on but cannot, very sad and burdened by their grief.

Research shows that counselling is an effective way of providing help to people who have suffered the devastating loss of a baby or small child. Grief can be profoundly destabilising and for some people so devastating that it can lead to depression, anxiety, hypertension and substance abuse, social isolation and loneliness.

Footsteps Counselling and Care is a charitable organisation that offers counselling to anyone in Gloucestershire affected by pregnancy or baby loss. Counselling can provide a sense of safety in a neutral place with someone who understands, enabling people to safely explore their feelings and emotions around their sadness and grief. This can provide a great sense of release, allowing some healing and the strength to move on. Feeling listened to, understood and accepted can be very powerful and therapeutic.

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If the work of Footsteps Counselling and Care resonates with you and you would like to support us in any way please do not hesitate to contact us.

Footsteps Counselling and Care
51 Westgate Street

01452 308618

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Donate here.

Registered Charity # 1152972