Jonny and I, got married in June 2011. In that time, I have thoroughly tested his staying power with the “In sickness and in health” wedding vow.

First up, was a very complicated twin pregnancy, Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Symphis Pubis Dysfunction. But I couldn’t leave it there could I? No, I developed Pre-Eclampsia and then alongside haemorrhaging several times, I nearly died of HELLP Syndrome.

breastfeeding twins whilst critically ill

Breastfeeding the twins in hospital, whilst critically ill with HELLP Syndrome

Just as we are beginning to recover emotionally from the birth trauma, I go and get diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. Needless to say, I think Jonny is getting over his fear of hospitals now. He has been my rock and has been there through everything, holding my hand and not losing composure.

I spoke last year about being on the UKNeS Advisory panel – a group who research into serious complications of pregnancy and birth, or “maternal near-miss” incidents. I joined the panel as a LAY Representative out of curiosity, after my own near-miss, when my organs started failing in labour, because of HELLP Syndrome.

I went again last week to meet with the panel and see where their research is going. Amongst many other projects, they’ve contributed to the Pregnancy & Children module on the brilliant website Health Talk Online. There’s a section on Pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, a section on conditions that threaten women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth, amongst everything from critical care, hysterectomy, and family impact to breastfeeding and support. Please go and check it out – it’s a brilliant health resource.

But the bit that inspired me the most – on the website and at the latest meeting, was a section on fathers/partners. How many of us women, who have traumatic births, or even straightforward births, consider how our labour, has effected our partner? I know that Jonny confided in friends, when things got too much, and I was so thankful that they were there for him, but we’ve never really talked about how he felt about my illness.

There are some truly inspiring videos on the website, including one, from a father, who says that no matter what his wife has to go through now, as a result of her illness… she is alive, and they have to be thankful for that. That is often how I feel, but sometimes in the thick of things, that message can get lost.

Somebody asked me at the meeting, if I find it difficult going to hospital, after experiencing the trauma that I did, giving birth to the twins?
My answer was, “No, the birth trauma got pushed aside when I was diagnosed with Cancer”. I shrugged it off and laughed. What else can I do? The NHS saved my life, as they have many times before and I’m hoping my current treatment will do the same.

I am alive. I might have Cancer, I might not be able to have any more children, I might be pushing the “in sickness and in health” vow to the max, but I am alive and my incredible husband is still here holding my hand and helping me to raise our beautiful children. It could have been so much worse, for all of us.

PS. Jonny… I love you. xxx

Wedding Photos by DC Photographic

Wedding Photos by DC Photographic

  1. Sonya Cisco says:

    My sister in law developed HELPP syndrome when pregnant with their twins. SHe got wheeled in unconscious for an emergency section, with doctors telling my brother to wait outside and prepare for bad news. Luckily she and the twins were fine. Not surprisingly my brother does not want any more children as he says it was was the worst half hour of his life.
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  2. Laurenne @ This Mummy says:

    As Sarah said, really inspiring post.

    A good friend of mine had a really traumatic birth and when we spoke to her and her husband about it after she was saying she was a bit out of it and can’t remember so much whereas he seemed really genuinely traumatised by it. Really made us think that you often don’t think of how scary it must be for the dads / husbands.

    He has said he couldn’t bare it for them to have another after that.

    Well done to you and your husband for staying so true to your wedding vows and I hope you have a a few more ‘in health’ years next to make up for your last few! xx
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  3. Pinkoddy says:

    I think that you are both an amazing couple and you have been through so much and remained so positive. I think we need to consider that even a straight forward birth can be hard for a man, who often does not know what to expect and feels helpless as knowing what to do to help, and this is exemplified when it isn’t straightforward.
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  4. Lisa Hinton says:

    Thanks for the mention, Emma. The experiences of fathers and partners was one of the most important findings that came out of our research. For more readers can see summaries that we wrote about supporting them in hospital and in the aftermath.

  5. Jenny @ The Brick Castle says:

    It’s just over 3 months since my partner developed Meningitis, and although he’s mainly better, we’ve still a way to go and he has permanent pain at the moment. I’m seeing it from the perspective of ‘the other party’ and I assure you, however much he annoys me or sleeps and is useless after he’s been at work all day, I am thankful for every minute that he’s still here with me. I don’t hate hospitals, they saved his life, I feel comforted by them now, whereas before I was just a bit fearful.
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