“I contracted Sepsis after a C Section” is a guest post by Lucy at Real Mum Reviews.
When I was expecting my second child, the thought of spending up to three nights away from my first born filled me with dread. I hadn’t spent a single night away from her in over three years. I couldn’t imagine going a night without her bedtime story and cuddle.
Little did I realise that the three nights in hospital I feared so much would actually end up being three weeks.
24 nights away from my daughter.
I was one of the increasing numbers of new mums contracting Sepsis. To be frank I am lucky to be alive.
I contracted Sepsis after a C Section
The birth of my daughter
My daughter Neve was born by emergency c section at 39 weeks. She was breech. Despite being booked in for elective a week later, she had other ideas and made an unplanned early arrival. The section itself went smoothly, despite being terrified at the time.
The experience was calm and controlled and before I know it my perfect baby girl was placed in my arms. After a routine two nights in hospital, I was allowed home with my family.
Unfortunately that’s when the trouble started.
What happened next
On the fourth day post partum, I started to experience a sharp pain in my right buttock. We all found it amusing at first. Every time I tried to walk or get up from seating position I would get an instant stabbing pain almost like sciatica. It hurt a lot!
Not knowing what was normal and what wasn’t (this as my first section after all) I plodded, quite literally, on.
After two days at home, I started to feel worse. I was feeling weak and in pain, and started to lose my appetite and have chills. Deep down, I knew something wasn’t right.
I took myself off to the walk in medical centre where a very concerned doctor examined me. My temperature was 38.7 and my pulse was 135. She examined my wound and it was red and hot to the touch.
She advised me that I was showing classic signs of sepsis from infection and that I needed to be admitted. I needed to go to hospital there and then and could not go home.
I felt as if the floor had gone from underneath me and burst into tears.
My first thought was “I’m not stopping feeding my baby” closely followed by, “oh my God I’m going to die”.
In the days that followed, I spent two nights in a high dependency ward being observed 24/7. Then almost three weeks back on a maternity ward. Thankfully my daughter was able to come with me.
My Symptoms of Sepsis
Whilst the treatment for my infection started almost immediately, my symptoms were getting worse. By the third day back in hospital I could barely walk, holding on to my leg to move it. My mobility was becoming more and more limited. Even the Consultants were confused.
At one point, I had eight consultants at the end of my bed, all of whom seemed completely stumped by my symptoms.
They were unsure if my infection was just at the section wound, or worst case, if I was bleeding internally. Or if I had suffered some nerve damage from the section. They sent me for CT and MRI scans.
The MRI scan unfortunately made matters worse. If you have ever had one you will know that you have to lie incredibly flat and still. Getting into that position itself I found incredibly difficult and my leg was spasming for the entire twenty minutes whilst the scans took place. I was in agony but I knew I needed the scans to diagnose the problem, so despite the pain, so I stayed put.
The next morning I could barely move. My whole leg and bum had completely seized and I could barely get out of bed.
I was terrified. In a matter of days I had gone from happy and healthy to being unable to walk. I had no idea of how long these symptoms were expected to last.
After a lot more testing I was reassured to learn that my nerves were working fine, Unfortunately a swelling on my spine was pressing on a nerve and causing severe muscle spasms. I needed weeks of physio and support. Whilst unable to go the toilet unaided, I had to remain in hospital for the duration.
The psychological effects
My biggest fear was getting postnatal anxiety. I believe I came close after the birth of my first daughter in 2013.
I volunteered to see a Counsellor whilst in hospital, hoping that talking through my feelings would help. As daft as it sounds, despite having no distinct answers, it was helpful to discuss my fears and get some support and a sympathetic hug from a stranger. This may sound odd but being an unknown entity made me open up a lot more than I felt comfortable doing so with a friend or family member.
Despite the midwives being fantastic, I missed my family terribly. I began to feel a little institutionalised. When my partner took me to the hospital café in the wheelchair, I felt so anxious to be out of my hospital room that we returned much sooner than planned.
Although I had a lot of visitors, this sometimes was harder than no visits at all. Watching my daughter leave to go home knowing that I wouldn’t be able to give her a pre-bedtime cuddle absolutely broke my heart. I was upbeat whilst my friends and family were with me. As soon as they left I fell apart.
I was worried Erin would blame Neve for my condition and resent her sister for taking her Mummy away.
As the days passed and my strength improved I started to feel more positive.
How I pushed through
I noted down on a pad the small but noticeable improvements I was getting each day. Although very slow progress, reading back through these when I felt low was enough to spur me on and keep me motivated. Being more active helps even when it’s hard. I simply had to push myself through the pain and just keep trying.
The biggest challenge of all was admitting to myself that I needed help from my elderly in laws. At the age of 34, you expect to be helping them with mobility issues and not the other way around. Yet with a bungalow, they were the closest option I had towards coming home as I could be have everything I needed all on one floor. I was lucky to even have this as a choice.
After three weeks in hospital I moved in with them for 2.5 weeks.
Mike’s Mum bought me drinks, helped me out the shower and carried Neve for me between rooms whilst I slowly regained my strength. As a proud woman I found this hard to stomach. They were so respectful and supportive though and gave me the space that I needed where possible.
We celebrated the little successes together like walking with one crutch, climbing up the stair case with a stick and eventually, taking my first non assisted steps in their kitchen.
The journey to recovery
After almost six weeks, once I was able to climb the stairs unassisted, we finally all returned to our family home. The first night home with four of us under one roof was a day I will cherish forever.
The journey to recovery was long, but by the time Neve was four months old, I was completely recovered and am now fully mobile.
This was far from the start I expected with the final member of our family but i am incredibly proud of how I coped.
I am so lucky to have had such a supportive network of friends and family. They have all listened when I vented and wiped my tears whilst I cried.
I continued to breastfeed throughout, again something I am incredibly proud of despite my challenging start to motherhood. Neve and I now have an incredible bond, having been pretty much one on one for the first three weeks of her life.
Lasting effects and feeling lucky
Just psychological. I now have quite strong health anxiety and have ruled out having any more children for fear of the same thing happening again.
I’m much more of a hypochondriac than I should be but then hearing that I was potentially twelve hours from death is quite hard to hear without having some form of lasting impact.
Overall I feel incredibly lucky. Lucky to have got through it and lucky that both my doctor and I trusted our instincts.
Life is a precious thing and I enjoy every moment!
Read Lucy’s post on recognising the signs of Sepsis here.
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