"I felt useless, helpless and that it was all my fault" - Kerry's story

Kerry's daughter Evie was born full term and diagnosed with HIE, a type of newborn brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and/or blood flow. Kerry tells the story of the birth and how her and her family coped with Evie's illness.

I was pregnant with my seventh baby. I'd had gestational diabetes in all pregnancies, had been induced with five of them, and had to go for induction again.

The day before going in for induction, and I was extremely nervous, anxious, and more worried than I had been previously. My blood pressure had risen, but we shrugged it off as, assuming it was due to my anxiety.

The day came for induction and I had a Foley catheter (a tube used to pass urine from the bladder), as I had so many children. My cervix was open enough for them to break my waters, but I couldn’t give birth that day, as there were quite a few emergencies happening.

The next morning, I was woken at 5am for breakfast and to go down to get my waters broken. It was so nerve wracking and exciting - I was finally going to have my baby! I couldn’t wait to feel her on my chest, feel her warmth and finally see my little girl.

When they went to break my waters, her head was too high, so a midwife tried pushing her down, but it didn’t go down far enough. The doctor then said he would like to break my waters in theatre and have me prepped for an emergency caesarean (C-section).

I was prepped for a C-section and went into the operating theatre with my mother-in-law. I wasn’t feeling to great, due to the stress and worry, so we decided she would come in with me, as she is just like a mum to me.

I was laid on the bed with my waters were broken, and then there was mass panic. The midwife was shouting, the doctor was holding onto my baby's head from inside, whilst there was lots of gushing. The anesthetist and his assistant were telling me "goodnight mum" (code word for "you need to be put to sleep for an emergency C-section", which was discussed before we went in).

As the room filled with people, all I could do was sob with a mask over my face (which I had to wear because of COVID 19), having my tummy prepped for surgery and thinking "please hurry and get my baby out".

My daughter, Evie, was born at 2:45pm and had to be resuscitated, as she had been without oxygen for 11 minutes and lost a lot of blood.

The next ting I knew, I was in recovery, feeling very groggy, and being monitored for hours. I was finally taken to a room on delivery suite and told my baby was very poorly. I was told she had suffered HIE and that dad was with her, and would take a picture for me.

They explained that she was being transferred to another hospital for cooling treatment, as my hospital didn’t have it. Sadly I couldn’t go, as I had pre-eclampsia and had to stay on a magnesium drip for 12 hours. My blood pressure went up to 200/110 and I had lost a lot of blood.

It all happened so fast I couldn’t believe that my worst fear had just happened. I felt useless, helpless and that it was all my fault.

The midwife gave me a Bliss leaflet which explained HIE, the causes and what happens treatment wise. I found this really helped me cope and understand what had happened.

I hadn’t seen my baby girl at all. It felt horrible and strange, as I love the bit when the baby comes out onto your chest, and you feel the warmth and love rush over you. Instead, I had my baby whilst under anesthetic and hadn’t even seen her. It was horrible.

My boyfriend sent me a picture on my phone and she was beautiful, but she had a ventilator and drips in and it was heart-breaking to see her that way. I eventually got to see her just before she was transported to the other hospital.

The staff had brought her to me for 5 mins, so I could finally see her and my goodness, it was so hard to see her in her transportation incubator. However, I felt confident and happy that she was in safe hands of the amazing staff.

I eventually got transported to the same hospital as her the next day. The midwives were fantastic and made me and my family feel comfortable and very supportive.

When I eventually got to see her, I couldn’t believe how big she looked in the incubator compared to the tiny premature babies around her. The staff that looked after her encouraged us to help with her daily routine of cleaning and turning her.

When our other children visited hospital, the staff were brilliant and even gave them some name bands and mask the same as Evie's, so they could put on their dolls at home, so they weren’t so scared or worried about seeing Evie the way she was.

My 3 year old sat and sung Evie nursery rhymes and then said "when you come home Evie, I can sing them to you there too" and even the nurses got emotional, as at that time it was uncertain as to if she would wake up or not.

The doctors prepared us for the worst, as it wasn’t looking very likely that Evie would wake up, as all her organs had taken a hit from the lack of oxygen. She was having seizures and brain waves.

The hospital staff medicated her, cooled and warmed her, and 1 by 1 her organs started working. First her heart, then her kidneys, then she started trying to breath more herself.

Since she was more stable, we were able to hold her for the first time. It was amazing holding her in my arms after waiting for 2 weeks. About 3 days after I first held her, she finally opened her eyes and I have never felt so much happiness and joy ever. It was amazing - my little girl had woken up and was moving!

She had to go for a MRI scan, which amazingly came back clear, and as soon as she started having feeds, she was transferred back to our local hospital until she could bottle feed and gain weight.

Evie is now about to turn one, she has some mobility delay, but she is happy and healthy, all thanks to the swift action of the medial team the day they broke my waters, and the aftercare she has received in the NICU. We will be eternally grateful to all of them.

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