Please be aware the following story is about baby loss due to Group B Strep, Bronchial Pneumonia and Sepsis.
Thank you so much to Lisa for sharing her story.
Baby Loss Awareness Week.
1 in 4.
It happened to me. I was a well-informed fit and healthy yoga teacher. After a full-term fairly easy pregnancy I felt ready and able to birth this baby. In the early hours of 15th September 2015, I birthed a beautiful baby in the comfort of my living room. Attended by 2 midwives and my husband. Without any intervention or drugs or gas and air. I used a birthing pool for pain relief and then birthed on land. I felt like an absolute superwoman when I discovered my baby weighed 10lb 04oz! Angelina (my firstborn, then aged 3) woke up just after the birthing and met her sibling as together we discovered she was a girl, and named her Francesca Rose Weller straight away. Francesca fed, pooped, and her newborn scores and checks were all good. Apart from some concern over me and a particularly stubborn placenta, all was happy and well.
So, it was a complete shock when four hours after her arrival, Francesca suddenly took her last breath. From my sofa where I still lay recovering from birthing I watch the blurry scene unfold as if I am not there but watching TV. Midwives doing CPR on our newborn baby and phoning for ambulance. Paramedics arriving. I look at my baby, and while I would have loved a miracle, I know she is dead. Paramedics, one midwife, and my husband and baby leaving. Phone-call from hospital confirming Francesca is dead. Police arriving. Sudden death at home means my home is apparently a Crime Scene. Under Coroners, we have no choice, there will be a postmortem. Mum arriving to care for Angelina. Husband and midwife returning. Midwifes leaving. GP arriving and leaving. And then ambulance arriving and transferring me to hospital for a blood transfusion.
The next day in hospital with my husband in a hospital mortuary to see my baby that we can’t touch as she’s yet to have her post-mortem. I wonder how you live after this? Literally what do you do? Still in hospital myself for my own recovery, later I go to the mortuary again after the postmortem, I am now allowed to hold my baby. I am with two close friends. This is the last time I will see her, and I wonder how I will survive not holding her. The love I feel is so strong even for this dead daughter that I know that I’d rather have had her and lost her then never had her at all. Over 2 1/2 months after her death she is released from coroners, and we buried Francesca Rose Weller on 1st December 2015 at Colney Woodland Burial in Norwich.
We learn that Francesca died of Group B Strep, Bronchial Pneumonia and Sepsis. I wonder why I hadn’t heard of Group B Strep, when I thought I was so well informed. I learn that I carried this ‘normally harmless bacteria’ and passed it on to my baby. I learn it is easy to prevent Group B Strep infection in babies by administering cheap antibiotics. I wonder why there is no UK Screening programme for Group B Strep when there is in so many countries across Europe and the World. I imagine if I birthed my baby in another country she would still be alive. And my heart breaks again with guilt and ‘what if’s’.
In January 2017 I am blessed with the arrival of my ‘rainbow’ baby, my baby after the storm. Benedict Charles Weller is born via elective c-section at just over 37 weeks. I am blessed with 2 wonderful living children aged 3 and 9. But there is always one missing, and there always will be. The baby loss community is the one place where I feel I can safely (still) talk about Francesca 5 years on, and not feel judged. Where I can be with other people who simply ‘get it’. People who understand babyloss, the struggles of pregnancy after loss, and also life with a baby after loss. I have made some lovely friends at the Norfolk and Norwich Baby Bereavement Group meet ups, over a pub breakfast! I look forward to each one. Find the group on facebook and instagram
Don’t let yourself or a pregnant woman you know go through what we went through. Make sure you educate yourself about Group B Strep by going to trusted charity with medical panel and experts in the field: www.gbss.org.uk Every month in the UK 4 babies still die of Group B Strep infection
As a yoga teacher and loss mother, I am developing special yoga classes for the baby loss community. Online ‘Postnatal Yoga following baby loss’ and ‘Rainbow Pregnancy Yoga’ classes launching soon. Combining safe yoga practices for the perinatal period with yoga for grief, with sensitivity and understanding having been there myself www.facebook.com/lisasharingyoga