In just over a week my beautiful daughter, Amber turns 4. I am so proud of the kind, smart and funny girl she has turned in to, and I want to share our journey with you.
Finding out I was pregnant
It was autumn 2012 and I had just switched to the early shift at Manchester Airport where I had been working for Biza Duty Free. I thought my constant tiredness was due to waking up at 3am every day for work. A few days later I woke up with the most excruciating breast pain. I assumed it was just my body getting ready to menstruate. Then, a week later I was waiting for the bus to go to the village for a food shop and a bottle of wine. Suddenly I felt really faint. Once I got to the village I popped into Boots to buy a pregnant test. However I was so convinced that the test would be negative that I still went to the supermarket to buy a bottle of wine. I found out that I was pregnant later that morning (and sadly the wine would stay un-opened for a year).
I’m not going to lie, my pregnancy was far from fun. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum from 9 weeks right up to labour. This is a condition which causes excessive nausea and vomiting. The worst part of the condition for me was hypotension or low blood pressure as it’s more commonly known, which would cause dizziness and fainting episodes. Because of this I was prescribed anti-nausea medication. On approach to my second trimester I started having problems with getting dressed, my hips would seize up when getting out of bed and putting on socks or trousers and I would be in immense pain when standing up after sitting down. I just assumed this was normally pregnancy issues, but never-the-less mentioned it to my GP. After an examination I was diagnosed with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction). SPD is when the bones which form the front of the pelvis become unstable and move causing nerve and bone pain.
Before developing SPD I definitely took my mobility for granted and I had to adapt very quickly to manage every single movement, for example getting out of bed, getting out of a car and getting dressed. I was signed off from work as my job involved being on my feet for 8 hours a day. Spending days at home alone with this crippling condition caused me to become depressed and I felt isolated as my family were so far away.
From around 20 weeks I was referred to a fantastic physiotherapist at St Mary’s hospital in Manchester called Maria Jones. This lady changed my life and was great in teaching me techniques to manage the condition and how to control the pain. Later on in the pregnancy Maria held labour preparation classes. I was advised that due to my condition having an epidural would be detrimental. This is due to the fact that I would be numb and could potentially stretch my pelvis too much during labour which could cause more mobility issues post-birth. Also birthing programmes always show women giving birth whilst on their back. Again I was advised that this would cause problems for me and was giving alternative birthing positions. These classes gave me so much confidence for labour. During labour I had gas and air and morphine. I followed Maria’s advice and this resulted in a quick and relatively easy labour.
Within a week of being born Amber was diagnosed with Group B Strep Meningitis. When my waters broke I was supposed to be induced within 18 hours as per the advice given by my consultant. This didn’t happen. I was booked in to be induced at 10.30am on the Saturday (My waters broke at 7am on the Friday) but I wasn’t induced until the Saturday night, around 36 hours after my waters broke even though I was supposed to be priority. This resulted in a group b strep infection occurring. Once diagnosed with the infection Amber had to be given a lumbar puncture and a cannula and was on lots of medication for 2 weeks. As a new mum this was so scary and heart-breaking. I felt so angry at everything, not being able to cuddle by newborn properly due to all the wires and little things like not being able to have a newborn photo-shoot like so many of my friends.
I would be lying if I said that everything that happened during my pregnancy and Amber’s Group B Strep didn’t affect me. It has made me a bit of a ‘helicopter parent.’ And I probably tell her I love her 50 times a day. It has also made me stronger as a person and made me appreciate having a healthy child. We have an amazing bond and she has the kindest heart.
The independence that she has shown and her maturity for her age blow me away and Drew and I feel very fortunate to have her in our lives.
July is Group B Strep awareness month and it would mean the world of you could get behind the charity and share their message. Sadly, they don’t get any funding from the government, even though it is the most common cause of meningitis in babies under 3 months and the most common cause of life-threatening cause of infections in newborns.