My beautiful bundle of joy arrived safe and sound on the 5th September 2012, 2 days after my 37th Birthday. She was 2 weeks late, but finally arrived quickly and without complication.
It was an exciting, emotional and proud day for me, my husband and her big sister, who was immensely excited to have a little sister to play with.
Being a parent for the second time, I thought was going to be a walk in the park! I mean, how different can two little girls from the same parents be!!!!
It was clear from about 3 days in that our baby girl was going to be strong willed, she was going to be vocal and she was going to be one of life’s fighters. Her fighting spirit became apparent, when at 2 1⁄2 weeks old things took an unexpected turn.
A few weeks beforehand there had been some local cases of ‘Impetigo’, a regular and common childhood infection that to most people was more a pain in the backside due to it’s highly infectious nature and how it took ages to fully get rid of. Our eldest caught a mild form, she was 18 months old. It was treated with antibiotics and we thought no more about it.
BUT, what we didn’t know at this time was that this wasn’t going to be the end of it.
One afternoon, my mum was at our house and the health visitor came to do her regular checks. On this day my daughter was particularly irritable and was displaying a rash all over her body. The health visitor told me not to worry, it was perfectly normal for new-born babies to have this kind of rash. Once again, we thought no more of it.
On 21st September, 5 days after the health visitor had been, I noticed that daughter was becoming more distressed and wasn’t settling at night. The next day I noticed that her skin was bright red all over and she had what looked like the start of ‘Impetigo’. I took her to the doctors who gave me some cream and sent us on our way.
On 23rd September after a very restless and stressful night. We were all shattered at this point. Both my husband and I were surprised to see that over the course of the night she had suddenly started to show signs of more and more scab type spots. They appeared on her face first, and spread over her body. It was like they were appearing as we watched. I’ve never seen anything like it. I took her straight back to the doctor who checked her over, gave me some antibiotics and told me to give it 24 hours and if there was no sign of any improvement to take her to A&E!
BY the time my husband had come home form work that evening, things were even worse. He skin had become like crepe paper. I held her face to my shoulder and when I moved her head away ahead, some of her skin was left on my clothing. It was at this point that we made the decision to go against to doctor’s advice and we headed for A&E.
What happened when we got there was not what we were expecting. There was a part of me that was questioning if we were over-reacting? should we have just trusted what the doctor said? Are we wasting their time being here?
We were rushed straight through and saw several doctors who asked what felt like a zillion questions until finally the head of Paediatrics arrived and told us that she had ‘severe impetigo’ which had turned in to blood poisoning and she needed to be treated urgently.
I’ll never forget the doctors face when she said those words. I was in shock, my husband who is normally as calm as a cucumber asked the question I didn’t want ‘She is going to be OK isn’t she? We
waited for the reply which felt like forever, even though in reality it was only a few seconds. She told us that the next 24 hours were going to be telling and that if we’d listened to the GP’s advice and waited, she would have been dead by the morning!
I have never felt fear like it before in my life. How can you have a healthy, gorgeous baby girl one minute and then be told a few days later that she was basically fighting for her life.
At this point I totally lost control. My thoughts just couldn’t be silenced, and I felt like I’d failed my little girl. All the questions ran through my mind ‘What if we had listened to the GP? What if she hadn’t made it? Why didn’t I act sooner? How did I not know before?
All the self-doubt kicked in and I began to wonder if I was cut out to be the mum I had always promised to be.
Fast forward to the last week of August 2013 and I was a proper mess. I started to self-medicate with alcohol. Not for the first time, but that’s a whole different story. The thought of my daughters First Birthday, the one was all look forward to, the one we can’t wait for, terrified me. I started to re-live that day back in September 2012. I cried for days on end and when her birthday came, I was completely overcome with emotion.
For the next 5 years It was the same cycle. Re-living that day, the crying, the overwhelm of fear and doubt. It wasn’t until she turned 7 that I was able to fully enjoy her special day with her without the fear and dread.
I later realised that I had been suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My mind had taken over and I had spiralled in to a life of negativity, fear and self-doubt.
It took a while to re-wire my mind, accept how I felt, rationalise the fear and most importantly forgive myself, but I got there. In fact I now live a more positive life than ever before full of gratitude, love and joy!
Our beautiful funny, sassy, kind and hugely loving daughter turns 8 this year and I can’t wait to celebrate with her and her friends. She makes me proud each and every day. She has fire in her belly and the biggest heart I’ve ever known and I am grateful that I get to love her every day of my life!
I had no idea what PTSD was until I completed my coaching and CBT training. For 5 years I re-lived the horrors of that day, but had I known what was happening I would have been able to deal with it differently. I never discussed how I felt, I turned to something that I know so many of us do which only makes things worse in the long run.
I urge anyone who thinks they may have suffered PTSD to speak up, seek help and start the healing process.
I also want people to be fully aware that Impetigo may be a pain in the back side for young children, but for new-borns it can be fatal, so please be careful around pregnant women or those with a new born if you ever suspect your child may have it.