Christmas scares me....
I’m not going to lie. Every Christmas is the same. It starts not long after Henry’s birthday. I can remember everything as if it was yesterday.
So here it goes.
I had a tricky pregnancy. By the end I was so swollen I was in and out of hospital every day for the last few weeks. Each day I was told, “Come back tomorrow we will definitely induce you then.”
That never happened. Henry was 17 days late. I had to have a emergency C section as they lost his heart beat.
I had said through out the pregnancy I do not want a C section. I wouldn’t watch the births in antenatal class. Or look in the operation room when we did the look around the ward.
But I coped really well. It was like a dream. As soon as I held Henry I knew it was all worth it.
I was doing so well. I took to motherhood like it was second nature.
I had never wanted children. Never thought about having a baby. I just wasn’t really that interested. I enjoyed my life. Being a party animal. Smoking weed and taking other substances and drinking far too much. I worked in sales and I was bloody good at it.
When I found out I was four months pregnant it came out of the blue, I was shocked and scared. Very very scared.
But I was doing it. I was loving it. It was beautiful. My life was perfect. We had a nice flat, Craig had a good job and we both had Henry.
Henry was the first grandchild. We were all looking forward to this Christmas.
We walked to my dad’s house pushing Henry is his pram and talking about how great things were going.
Henry was only a month and one day old on Christmas day 2004. He slept most of the day. It was so nice to see everyone so happy and together.
The day went on I had had about three wines throughout the day. Harry Potter was on the telly. It was 5pm.
I came over cold. Freezing cold. I felt dizzy. I tried to talk but whatever I said didn’t make sense. Dad said get some air and a coffee. Which I did but I couldn’t walk straight, Craig had to help me get outside. Peter my brother-in-law brought me out a coffee. I went to take it with my right hand and the cup smashed and coffee went all over me.
I started laughing. Everyone thought I had drunk too much. I hadn’t drunk in quite a while. It was the obvious cause.
My mum drove me, Craig and Henry home. She had to undress me and put me to bed.
I remember Craig saying to mum, “Don’t worry I will do the night time feeds. Let Anna have a night off “
The way I was laid on the bed meant Craig couldn’t get in the bed. He slept on the sofa. Henry’s cries woke me at some point on the night. I fell out of bed and was calling Craig for what felt like hours but it was only minutes. He helped me up and put me back to bed.
It wasn’t until boxing day. When Sophie my sister and Peter came round to drop off my presents as I had left them all at my dad’s. There were voices all around me. But I didn’t know where they were coming from. My bedroom was filled with people and I didn’t know what was happening. I could speak but I couldn’t get my words out. I was scared.
The ambulance staff had to get me down three flights of stairs. I thought I was saying to them, ‘I’m so sorry you have to take me down all these stairs’, but I wasn’t.
They told me to rest. While telling my family they thought I had had a stroke. Nobody believed them.
Strokes happen to old people not a 24 year old who has just given birth.
Because it was Boxing Day the hospital was not running with full staff. They had no-one to operate the MRI machine .
My parents demanded that I was moved to a hospital that had full staff.
But first off I had to express milk. A nurse came and did it. My boobs were so sore and painful and it hurt so much. They stopped when they realised Henry could not drink the milk as I was on some serious medications.
I was taken to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge by ambulance blue light all the way. I had been going in and out consciousness.
But I remember the MRI machine. It was loud. My mum came in with me as I was hysterical by this point. They put me in the machine and kept saying stay still Anna. But I couldn’t. They then looked at the images and realised I had hair pins in my hair so I had to go back In. It was decided that they would sedate me.
The next few weeks are a bit of a blur if I am honest. I was put in and out of a hoist to move me as I couldn’t move myself. That was scary. Daily visits from Drs pointing at their belts and watches and asking me what they were called. I knew what they were but I couldn’t say what they were.
I cried uncontrollably every day. Every moment I was awake
But I never said ‘why me?’
I was desperate. Scared. Frightened. In a matter of weeks I was a shell of the fun loving person I once was.
After two weeks I was moved back to the first hospital and on to the stroke unit. I somehow felt at ease there, I knew they would help me. I felt safe there.
I then spent the next five months on the stroke unit. I became part of the team. I was treated so well you could not ask for better. What I remember is looking out of the window each night and seeing how each night it got a little lighter. Each day was not so dark.
I will leave my story here.
But if you see me over Christmas and I’m tearful or not talking much. It’s not because I’m sad. I’m reflecting on the person I have become. I’m thinking about what I have achieved. I’m appreciating my family and friends.
I find it hard that I can remember all of that so clear it’s as if it’s happening now. But I can’t remember what I did last week