Tag Archives: NHS

A Kind Stranger

Today I went to work. And in some ways it was just like any other day. For the past three years, I’ve made sure I’ve been in work on the 14th January. For the simple reason that I want to keep my mind occupied. I don’t really want to dwell on the events of five years ago.

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2 day old Dylan

Four years ago today I was in hospital with Dylan who was then just two days old. I was on a ward with three other women (and babies). We had all arrived at different times and with intermittent crying babies and visitors, checkups from midwives and drawn curtains, we hadn’t really talked much.

Although I was struggling to feed my newborn, I was still ecstatically happy, But there was also a cloud hanging over me. At about 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, I spoke to one of my best friends on the phone. We had exchanged texts since Dylan’s arrival but it was the first time we had spoken. I told her the gory details of my induced labour (painful but quick!) and gushed about how beautiful Dylan was. And then burst into tears. It was hormones mixed with grief. It was the first anniversary of the day I found out Ewan had died. We talked for a while and she comforted me. Eventually we ended the conversation and there I was, in my cubicle alone with my sleeping baby.

The curtain drew back and the lady in the opposite cubicle came in, sat down on my bed and gave me a huge hug. I clearly hadn’t stifled my sobs well enough and she came to see if I was ok. I can’t verbalise how grateful I was to her for that hug and just the kindness she showed me in that moment. It was just what I needed. I don’t know if she had any idea of how much I needed that hug. We talked a bit and after a while she went back to tend to her baby. She left later on that day and of course, never saw her again.

I caught my mind wandering today. As I walked into work I recalled what I had been doing on that morning and what I was wearing. I looked at my watch occasionally and couldn’t help but think back to what I would have been doing at the same time. And at 4pm I thought ‘by now I knew’. So whilst my brain can’t shut out the events of 14th January 2011, I try also to remember my positive memories of 2012 and of every year since.

Tip: If you are ever feeling a bit wobbly, don’t listen to ‘Bridge Over You’ by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir. I had it plugged into my ears as I walked into work. I absolutely love it (and the fact that it kept Justin Bieber from getting number 1 at Christmas), but it’s a guaranteed tear jerker! And as I’ve written about before, I’m a huge fan of the NHS. I’m just hoping it was still dark enough so that anyone driving past didn’t notice me!

All the above aside, it has been a good day. I came home and had tea made for me and a wrestle and tickle with my rainbows before bathtime and bed. I tried to get a decent photo of them both to share my wonderful view with you all, but as usual failed to get them looking in the same direction.

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Make your voice heard people – The NHS Maternity Services Review

I am big fan of our National Health Service. Before Ewan died I probably would have been quite non-committal about my thoughts on the NHS. Sometimes I would be pro-NHS. They agreed to take my tonsils out when I was 21, which, having suffered from tonsillitis approximately 8 times a year, I was eternally grateful to them for. But then I didn’t like my GP practice for a number of years – the GPs were grumpy, stroppy and had terrible ‘bedside’ manners (for the record I LOVE my current GP. He is ace!). On the whole I would probably have sat on the fence if asked for an opinion.

Since our experiences with Ewan’s stillbirth and my two subsequent rainbow pregnancies however, both Adam and I have not been able to fault the care we have received. If anyone asks, we could talk for hours about the professionalism, compassion and dedication of the maternity teams at the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre at Burnley, in particular our beloved midwives and consultant! I honestly don’t think I could find a bad word to say about them. The midwife who delivered Ewan was simply wonderful. I am so grateful to her for helping to make what was in essence the most awful experience of our lives, into a beautiful, calm, peaceful and memorable time. I hope one day to write a blog post about this particular experience. We were then supported through our next pregnancies with kid gloves by an amazingly kind and considerate consultant who absolutely understood our worries and stresses.

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So when I heard about the current NHS maternity review, I knew I wanted to go along and make my voice heard. There is currently a roadshow of drop in review events taking place up and down the country. Today I went along to my local event in Preston to share my views and also make suggestions. I am not so naïve to realise that a) improvements can’t be made and b) everyone has received the same care that we have. I truly believe, for example, that women (and men) would benefit from seeing the same midwife from day one, through all their antenatal and then postnatal appointments. We were lucky with our second pregnancy to be allocated a case-load midwife. I saw her every few weeks. She attended some of our hospital appointments and visited me at home. Through this I was able to trust her and ask questions that I may never have asked a ‘random’ community midwife. After we took Dylan home she came to visit a few times and I remember once compiling a list of about 15 questions for her. Some of them seem ridiculous now (I had about 3 questions alone about burping…. the baby, not me!), but I knew that she wouldn’t laugh at me because I had already built a good relationship with her.

Also, in relation to my last blog post, I referenced how mothers should be tested for Group B Strep as standard practice in the latter stages of pregnancy.

Maternity review

With Rainbow Jude and my old school friend Kelly who is now involved in NHS service commissioning

Anyway the review is ongoing for the next couple of months. So if you have had experience of maternity services anywhere in the UK, either as a parent, grandparent, friend or in any other capacity, now is the time to feedback about your experiences. Positive or negative, the NHS want to hear what you have to say. If you aren’t able to make it along to one of the drop-in sessions here, then email england.maternityreview@nhs.net.

Make sure you have your say.