Mum who fears mums’ night out when she was six months pregnant caused her waters to break killing her baby.
But tragically Winnie had NO idea she was pregnant despite several visits to her GP complaining of sickness, tiredness and weight gain.
The mum had been having contraceptive injections since the birth of her baby seven months earlier and Winnie had been assured she could not be pregnant.
But minutes after getting home from her night out – first since her son was born – she felt a huge gush.
Emergency doctor told stunned Winnie waters had broken and she was six months pregnant.
Just ten days later baby had to be delivered by emergency section after she developed life-threatening infection caused by waters breaking.
Son weighed just 2lb and died 11 hours after delivery after suffering heart attack.
Devastated Winnie blamed herself and her mums night out for killing the baby she didn’t know she was having.
Says she will never trust a doctor again after being assured she was not pregnant.
Now one year after her son died she is picking up the pieces and wants people to know about the baby she didn’t know she was having until it was too late….
My friend Zara plonked a drink down in front of me.
‘What is it?’ I said, frowning at the murky liquid.
‘I like to call this one ‘Toxic’,’ she beamed. ‘Now that’ll get you going!’
I laughed and took a sip; Zara’s homemade chuck-it-all together cocktails were legendary. It actually tasted quite nice.
It was my first big night out since the birth of my youngest, Logan, then seven months.
It had been a spur of the moment decision, but Zara was right, I really did need to let my hair down.
After cocktails at Zara’s we headed out to our local nightclub, Gorgeous, where I moved on to vodka red bulls.
It was turning into a great night. We hardly left the dance floor. And Zara was right, it was exactly what I needed.
Since Logan had been born, I’d been having a pretty rough time of it. Not just the lack of sleep; with two other children, my girls Sky, now four, and Lexi, three, I was used to getting by on just a few hours a night. No, it was all the stuff that had been going on since Logan’s birth…
It had all started shortly after I’d gone on to the contraceptive injection a few weeks after Logan had been born, just after I’d stopped breastfeeding. I experienced sickness so bad it was almost like the sickness I’d suffered with in pregnancy. In all my pregnancies I’d even ended up admitted to hospital and being treated with anti sickness drugs and a drip for dehidration. So, six weeks after my first injection, I went back to the doctor.
‘I’m sure it’s just your body getting used to the hormones in the injection,’ my GP reassured.
Only then, instead of losing my baby weight, I started gaining more.
I arranged another appointment at the surgery,
‘Isn’t weight gain a definite sign of pregnancy?’ I asked my GP.
‘It can be,’ he agreed, ‘But it can also be an initial side effect of your choice of contraception.
Still, I didn’t feel right. The sickness remained. He prescribed anti-sickness tablets but they weren’t a great help.
My complaints about what I had though was a ‘leaking bladder’ were blamed on ‘changes below’ after my last baby.
I decided to stick with it though as I’d used the injection before in my late teens and it was great. So, as the weeks passed, I willed myself to stick with it until after these ‘teething problems’ had passed.
Over all, I must have been back and forth to the doctor about ten times. I’m sure he thought I was paranoid. Especially when blood tests came back normal.
‘If you’re concerned about pregnancy he said, ‘you can always carry out a test at home for your own piece of mind.’
So I did. And when it was negative, I told myself to stop worrying.
‘You know what you need?’ Zara had said earlier this evening. ‘A good night out.’
And I have to say, it was doing the trick. Dancing in the club, I didn’t get home until 5am.
Back home, though, I felt shattered. I crawled into bed next to my partner Lee, trying to get a few hours sleep before the kids woke.
Only, as I was drifting off a few minutes later, I felt a popping feeling and a gush of liquid between my legs. It was much more than the usual leaks I’d suffered over the last few weeks and when I put my hand down, I saw it was tinged with blood.
Panicked, I grabbed my mobile from next to the bed and went downstairs to the loo. As more liquid dribbled out, I googled my symptoms. Most seemed to be linked to either pregnancy or cancer.
My heart started to beat faster. As pregnancy had been ruled out that only left cancer, right? Frantic now, I phoned 111
the operator booked me in for an out of hours emergency appointment later that morning.
‘Don’t worry,’ I’m sure it’ll all be fine,’ Lee said as I left him to take care of the kids and hurried down to the local walk-in clinic.
But when I arrived, a urine test revealed I was pregnant.
‘I can’t be!’ I exclaimed.
It was true. An examination put me at least SIX MONTHS gone. I’d only been to the doctor three days before – complaining of more leaking below – and he’d diagnosed me with a bladder prolapse.
I picked up my phone. ‘You’re not going to believe this,’ I said to Lee.
‘But how did the GP miss it?’ he asked.
I didn’t know, and right then, I had other things to worry about. I thought about my night out, the cocktails, the vodka Red Bulls, the dancing… What had I done? Fearing my night out had brought on a miscarriage without me even knowing I was pregnant, I raced to Newcroft Hospital.
The good news was my baby was still alive. Thank God. But a scan showed there was hardly any fluid around the baby as my waters had broken.
Doctors suspected they had been leaking for weeks – explaining the damp patches I had complained about – but ruptured fully after my night out.
I felt sick, I’d never have gone drinking and dancing all night if I had known I was pregnant.
‘We think you’re around 24 weeks,’ the midwife said. ‘That would mean your due date would be…the 24th June.
‘However,’ the doctor said, ‘now that your waters have broken there is a serious risk of infection to both you and your baby.’
He explained that I would go into premature labour and because my baby was so tiny there was very little chance that he or she would survive.
‘But there is a chance? ‘I asked.
He didn’t have to say anything else. It was all there in his eyes. Don’t get your hopes up.
As 24 weeks is the cut-off point for when doctors will use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the life of a baby born prematurely, I was admitted and given steroid injections to boost my baby’s lungs, which would be underdeveloped form the lack of amniotic fluid.
Please cling on, I prayed, gently rubbing my tummy where there was still no real sign of a bump. Eight days later I was discharged, still pregnant. For the first time, I felt a glimmer of hope.
Back home I searched online to learn as much as I could and found Little Heartbeats. It had been set up to support women like me who’d experienced premature rupture of membranes (PROM). I followed all the advice on their page and drank lots of water and put myself on bed rest. The other mums I spoke to on Little Heartbeats were a constant source of support.
But six days later I woke in the middle of the night with stomach pains. By 7am I was sure they were contractions.
Leaving Lee with the children, Zara took me back to hospital where I was hooked up to a monitor. But it wasn’t labour; it was a serious infection and as my temperature went through the roof and I started vomiting, doctors decided there was no option but to deliver my baby – just 17 days after I’d found out that I was pregnant.
Terrified, I was put to sleep and taken down for a C-section and came round to see Lee at my bedside.
‘It’s OK,’ he soothed, seeing how disorientated I was. ‘We’ve another little boy.’
He weighed just 2lb 1oz and had been whisked down to the Neon-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to be put on a ventilator to help him breathe. I felt so sad. I’d been able to hold my other three babies straight away. I wanted that for me and my son.
When Lee showed me the photos he’d taken on his phone I was shocked – he looked so tiny and fragile. We decided to call him Warren.
Eight hours later, I was wheeled down to meet him. I was so shocked when I saw him in person for the first time. He looked so tiny, like a baby bird, and his skin was translucent and covered in wires. He looked like he wasn’t ready to come into the world.
Completely unprepared for how he would look and still reeling from the shock news I was pregnant at all I was too scared to touch him.
‘I need to go back, I said, edging away.
Back at the ward I tried to get my head around what had happened over the last few weeks, how I was a mum again. But just a few hours on we were told that Warren had suffered a heart attack.
‘He’s not strong enough to survive another,’ we were warned.
So when the call came saying Lee and I needed to get back to NICU, I just knew…
As we entered the room, my worst fear came true. I broke down – struggling to take it in that the baby I had only known I was expecting days earlier had died.
I’d never even got the chance to hold him. Now though, the nurses placed him on my chest. He felt almost weightless. It was clear he had never been strong enough for this world.
I wanted time with him on my own, a chance to say hello and goodbye. Lee and I stayed three days in the bereavement suite. Terrified I would forget I took so many photos, a cutting of his hair, even one of his tiny blankets. I pressed it up to my face, wanting to breathe him in.
There were so many first times that I would never experience. It killed me that the girls would never get the chance to meet their little brother.
In the days that followed, I walked around in a blur. I had to register Warren’s birth and death and arrange a cremation for the little boy I never knew I carried inside me.
In the end, his little blue coffin was carried by a horse and carriage. We lit candles, I wrote a special poem for him and we had a balloon release. Having to explain to his siblings that we were celebrating the life of the brother none of them had known about was tough. They just couldn’t understand that he’d been there in the first place, let alone that he was never coming back. To be honest neither did I.
But even harder to cope with was the guilt – that my night out might have triggered my waters to break early. There’s no way I could have known I was pregnant – even the doctor had ruled it out – but that didn’t stop me from punishing myself for going out that night and for not knowing that I was carrying a baby. That’s just what us mums do isn’t it.
In the weeks that followed, I couldn’t cope with looking after Logan. He was eight months old, not that much older than Warren. I couldn’t bear to hold him; all I wanted was Warren in my arms. I found myself pushing him away, hating myself for it. Lee found it hard to cope with, but I found it a million times harder.
One morning I came close to ending it all. It was only the thought of my other children that stopped me from taking the pills I had collected together in a pile on the table.
‘You need to get help,’ Lee told me.
I knew he was right. Last June, I started counselling. It helped me to realise that what happened wasn’t my fault – or Logan’s. Him and Warren are different people. I realised I was allowed to love him while grieving for Warren.
Around this time, I started talking to other grieving mothers online. Many of whom had experience PROM like me. Helping them to analyse their grief helped me. I decided to work with the charity Little Heartbeats as a mentor. It was the best thing I could have done.
Now, when I look back at the photos of that night out I want to cry. They show me and my friend having a laugh and enjoying my first real big night out since Logan was born. Little did I know that hours later my life would be ripped apart.
I was blissfully unaware that I was heavily pregnant and that my waters were already breaking and that they would soon rupture completely. As his mum, I think I’ll always feel angry with myself even though I know it wasn’t my fault.
But I also feel let down as I went to the GP several times and was assured there was no way I could be pregnant. I can’t help thinking that his mistake cost my baby’s life.
For more information about Little Heartbeats visit http://www.little-heartbeats.org.uk/supporting-us