Did Club­bing Kill My Baby?

It was my first night out af­ter hav­ing a baby Mystery symp­toms – can­cer or preg­nancy? Cop­ing with grief by help­ing other mums

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS - Win­nie Darkes, 28, Wolver­hamp­ton

My friend Zara plonked a drink in front of me and I frowned at the murky liq­uid. She’d named this chuck-it­to­gether cock­tail ‘Toxic’!

We knocked it back and went to our lo­cal night­club, where I moved on to vodka Red Bulls.

We drank, danced, took self­ies! Ex­actly what I needed.

Since my youngest, Lo­gan, had ar­rived seven months ear­lier, I’d had a rough time.

I’d started the con­tra­cep­tive in­jec­tion but it made me sick. The GP said my body was ad­just­ing to the hor­mones.

In­stead of los­ing baby weight, I gained more – but was told it was a symp­tom of the jab. And I’d also had a leaky blad­der.

I was back and forth to the GP, but blood tests were fine.

I even did a home preg­nancy test, which was neg­a­tive.

‘I must stop wor­ry­ing,’ I told Zara, which is when she’d sug­gested we have a night out.

My part­ner Lee had stayed in with Lo­gan and our girls, Skye, 3, and Lexi, 2...

I crawled into bed next to Lee at 5am. But, as I drifted off, I felt a gush be­tween my legs.

Could it be true?

I rushed to the loo and, as more liq­uid poured out, I looked up the symp­toms on my phone – most were linked to ei­ther preg­nancy or can­cer.

But my preg­nancy test had been neg­a­tive... Was it can­cer?

Feel­ing fran­tic, I phoned 111 and was booked in for an out-of-hours ap­point­ment that morn­ing.

At a lo­cal walk-in clinic, the doc­tor did a urine test… ‘You’re preg­nant,’ he said. I couldn’t be­lieve it, but an

ex­am­i­na­tion put me at least 24 weeks gone. I’d fallen preg­nant a month af­ter hav­ing Lo­gan.

The leaks hadn’t been wee, it was am­ni­otic fluid and now my wa­ters had bro­ken!

I needed a scan at Newcroft Hospi­tal and, while I was ex­am­ined, I thought of the night be­fore… Cock­tails, danc­ing... Had I brought on labour?

The good news was my baby was alive, but there was hardly any fluid left in the womb.

Doc­tors sus­pected it’d been leak­ing for weeks, then fully rup­tured af­ter my night out.

In­fec­tion was a risk to me and baby, and I could go into labour pre­ma­turely.

‘Is there a chance for my baby?’ I asked, but the doc­tor’s face said it all... Don’t get your hopes up. I was given steroid in­jec­tions to boost my baby’s lungs. Please cling on, I prayed, rub­bing my tummy – but there was no real bump. Eight days later, I left – still preg­nant. On­line, I found Lit­tle Heart­beats,

which sup­ports women who’ve had preterm prelabour rup­ture of mem­branes (PPROM).

Their advice was to drink lots of wa­ter and have bed rest.

But, six days later, I woke in the night with stom­ach pains. ‘Con­trac­tions?’ I sobbed I went to hospi­tal. It wasn’t labour, but a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion.

I was sick and my tem­per­a­ture had rock­eted.

‘We have to de­liver baby,’ the doc­tor said.

Just 17 days af­ter I’d found out that I was preg­nant, I was put to sleep for a Cae­sarean.

Over­whelmed

‘We’ve another lit­tle boy,’ Lee told me when I came round.

He was in Neona­tal ICU, get­ting help to breathe.

Our lit­tle boy weighed just 2lb 1oz and we named him War­ren Har­lee.

Later, I was wheeled to meet him. He was like a baby bird and I was scared to touch him. Over­whelmed, I had to leave…

I was try­ing to get my head around what had hap­pened.

Hours later, War­ren had a heart at­tack and we were told he couldn’t sur­vive another.

When we were called back to NICU, I just knew… War­ren had died.

‘I never held him,’ I wept. Now, though, the nurses placed him on my chest. He felt al­most weight­less.

He’d never been strong enough for this world.

Lee and I stayed three for days in the Be­reave­ment Suite.

We said hello and good­bye, took pho­tos, a snip of hair.

Hav­ing to ex­plain to War­ren’s sis­ters that we were cel­e­brat­ing the life of the brother they’d never known about was tough. They couldn’t un­der­stand... To be hon­est, nei­ther did I. Worst was the guilt. My wa­ters may have bro­ken early due to my night out – but I’d had no idea I was preg­nant.

That didn’t stop me from pun­ish­ing my­self.

I couldn’t even hold Lo­gan – at 8 months old, he re­minded me so much of War­ren.

I felt like end­ing it all, only the thought of my kids stopped me. ‘Please get help,’ Lee begged. I went for coun­selling, which helped me re­alise it wasn’t my fault. I could love Lo­gan while still griev­ing for War­ren.

I also be­gan work­ing as a men­tor with Lit­tle Heart­beats – the best thing I could’ve done.

When I look at the pho­tos of that night out, I want to cry.

It’s like I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son, be­fore the guilt and grief that came with los­ing War­ren.

But now I hope that I can at least some­how chan­nel all that pain into help­ing other mums, in mem­ory of my baby boy...

I knew my tiny boy had never been strong enough for this world

In ICU: War­ren, my baby bird... Good­bye, dar­ling boy

i won’t let his death be in vain

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