Ask anyone who has experienced childbirth and they’ll tell you it a variety of things. One thing you’ll often hear, however, is it’s an experience which can take a lot of out your body.
For 28-year-old Emilie Gentry, giving birth nearly cost her her own life. While the mortality rate for women in labour has dropped significantly, childbirth still has an element of risk involved.
However, if you ask any mother and they’ll tell you the sacrifice is a small price to pay, as proven by Emilie’s emotional reaction when she met her son Edward James (EJ) for the first time after giving birth to him seven days earlier.
Emilie encountered complications during labour and went into a septic shock. She nearly lost her life after catching a bacterial infection, chorioamnionitis, which affects the membranes of the uterus and the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.
She had no choice but to undergo an emergency c-section at 39 weeks after her blood pressure dropped to a critical level and doctors could not detect EJ’s heartbeat. To complicate matters further, she had contracted a high fever, which indicated she was battling an infection.
This was confirmed during surgery when doctors discovered her womb had begun filling with pus, and her lungs, kidneys and liver were in the early stages of failure.
Surgeons at Providence Hospital were successful in delivering EJ on August 24, 2016, but Emilie feared the worse when she did not hear him cry.
It took six minutes for a team of doctors to get baby EJ’s heartbeat working before quickly taking him to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Emilie, from Lynnwood, Washington, didn’t even get to see her son as she was immediately placed in ICU because of her critical condition, with doctors working tirelessly to contain the infection.
The mother of two underwent two blood transfusions and was put under dialysis to purify her blood. This was to stop the infection from spreading around the body, giving it time to heal.
Emilie went on to describe the experience as ‘so, so hard’, she added:
Your baby has spent the last nine months inside you, and then so violently he’s ripped out of you. I couldn’t bear the idea that he was hurting in another hospital. It was heart-wrenching.
I didn’t meet him until he was seven days old. On August 31, Billy walked into my hospital room carrying this little bundle.
It was so overwhelming, it was the most powerful moment of my life when I finally got to meet my baby. When he was put into my arms he immediately cuddled into me. He was like ‘This is my mum’.
While she was discharged from the hospital the next day, her traumatic experience made it difficult to bond with her newborn baby. Emilie was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and post-partum depression, but a combination of medication, therapy and family support groups have seen her mental health improve.
In the months after I would wake up screaming. My nightmares were so bad. I was diagnosed with PTSD and I struggled to bond with my baby.
It was very traumatic but I’m in a good place now.
It’s good to hear Emilie and EJ are healthy and doing much better now.
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by post-traumatic distress, and want to speak to someone in confidence you can contact the Mind helpline on 0300 123 3393 which is open from 9 AM to 6 PM. Alternatively, you can text them on 86463.
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