Showing posts tagged with: 'mother'


Full steam ahead

Thu 25th Sep 2008 by Ben Palmer.

I'm Form Rep in Emily's class, so I get to organise the coffee mornings, evenings out with nice food and wine, cajole people into helping run stalls at the Christmas fair/sports day and goodness knows what else. I'm sure I'll find out.

Anyway, I was just chatting to two new Mum's - new as in new to the school - at our first coffee morning of the term about being the only dad around the table and about what the Jessica's Trust banner in my email signature is all about.

Obviously they'd followed the link and read some of the pages, but wanted to know what it was really like, what does it involve and a whole host of questions that a lot of people don't ask, but I like to answer.

I told them, adding that I was hoping to hear from the Charity Commission shortly about whether the application had been successful.

Back at my desk I opened the latest email that had arrived - from the Charity Commission:

Dear Sir or Madam

I am pleased to inform you that the above has now been registered under registration number 1126062 .  Written confirmation follows by first class post.

Please note that the information may take a few days to appear on our website.

etc etc

In the first moments of surprise and delight, suddenly tinged with the reality I thought, 'what do I do now, getting registered is all I've thought about for ages.'

There's so much to do and so many doors to open, but the first jobs are to update the web site, change the letterhead and open a bank account.

I must remember to organise a class night out for the Dads to come along to as well.

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Count down

Sun 1st Jun 2008 by Ben Palmer.

The coming week is going to be a very busy one. I've got a pile of work on my desks - both at home and in the office in which I have a corner that I call my own.

It's also book launch week, and there's a bit of press coverage lined up too.

Obviously I won't be sad if Friday's Child sells a few copies or more, but the real happiness that I yearn for will come through the people who read of Jessica's plight and are moved enough to spread her story.

If every reader tells their colleagues, family and friends, then it will be a lot of people who know about the continuing danger of childbed fever and infection in otherwise healthy new mothers.

I really want it to be the start of the end of this cruel and un-prejudiced killer. Please, help me to make Jessica's untimely and unnecessary death one that counts.

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Time for T

Mon 28th Apr 2008 by Ben Palmer.

A little over seven years ago, Jessica met a group of fellow first time pregnant girls at her first ante-natal class.

Two girls emigrated, but five of them went on going to the classes, every week for six weeks or so. The classes came to an end and one by one they gave birth within the space of a few weeks: four boys and a girl.

The five of them continued to meet every week, usually for lunch on Wednesdays, until the children started going to nursery school. The meetings became more irregular, but they stayed in touch and sometimes us Dads joined them for dinner. In the years since, the number of children has grown to eleven.

Since Jessica's death the girls have welcomed me into their group as an honorary Mum, and have supported me hugely in the years since. Her death could not have affected them more - they were such a close knit group.

Today we formed a new group of our own: Jessica's Trust is now formalised with the five of us as trustees. The change from 'trust' to 'Trust' in the masthead reflects this.

I am hugely grateful to the girls for agreeing to help me. There is much to be done, but first we apply to become a Registered Charity.

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Inquiry into deaths of three new mothers - Telegraph

Mon 14th Apr 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Inquiry into deaths of three new mothers - Telegraph

Necrotising Fasciitis is most commonly caused by Group A Streptococcus, which is also the most common cause of Childbed Fever. It's a pity the article doesn't make the link and say that's what it is, but 'flesh-eating bacteria' sounds nastier, doesn't it?

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NICE delivery?

Thu 20th Mar 2008 by Ben Palmer.

I've just read a good post on Mother at Large's blog about childbirth, pain and expectations about delivery.

It does sometimes seem as though birth has become a bit too competitive, and often I also hear talk of how quickly a mother was discharged, as though speed of discharge is a measure of success. What we shouldn't forget is that, while now comparitively safe, childbirth is a trauma and the historical and natural risks are still as present as ever they were.

While an extended hospital stay is not on anybody's wish list or birth plan, there is merit of staying in for days, rather than hours - as used to be the case. How better to pick up on the warning signs of a complication such as infection than by regular observations by a midwife?

But on that subject, all too often I hear that regular postpartum observations are no longer routine, unless infection is suspected - indeed the NICE guideline on Routine postnatal care of women and their babies [PDF] even says as much for some reason.

This is madness: how on earth is an infection going to be suspected early enough unless it's being checked for?

Another postnatal phrase I hear a lot of is: 'Mother and babe both doing well'. It's what everyone wants to hear and illustrates the feeling of joy and euphoria of a new and safe delivery, but a caveat: Childbed Fever can hit anybody at anytime - even weeks after a trouble free delivery.

I wouldn't want to cast a cloud over anybody's happiness, but never be complacent - please keep an eye on the symptoms, even if your midwife isn't.

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An Inspector Calls

Thu 28th Feb 2008 by Ben Palmer.

poster_thumbnail.pngI had a visit from the VAT Inspector this morning. I got a bit behind with my VAT Returns and they wanted to make sure I wasn't up to no good.

Business has been slow to non existant for the past few years, so it didn't take long and we soon started to talk about what I was doing now. I showed her the first proof of Friday's Child, explained Jessica's trust and gave her a card.

"Oh, I heard about childbed fever on Woman's Hour," she told me, both shocked to hear that Jessica was a victim, fully understanding about my change of direction, and also impressed by my home printed business card.

"Can I have another card, to give to my friend? And do you have a poster? I could ask in the office if I can put one up on the notice board."

I don't have a current poster, the only one I've ever designed was promoting the now closed petition to the Prime Minister, so I've spent the rest of the day designing a new one.

I think it's clear what the message is, I hope it's suitably targetted at Mums, but before I press print, I'd love to know what you think of it. Please leave your thoughts, good or not-so-good, and suggestions in the comments below.

If you have somewhere that you can pin one up I'd love to hear from you as well. When it's fully refined I can make a hi res download available. If anyone knows a friendly (read 'low cost') printer as well, I might get some properly done.

Download the new poster [Link removed  7/3/08 pending redesign]
Update 30/05/08: The new poster and leaflet are now on-line

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Power to you, Mums

Tue 19th Feb 2008 by Ben Palmer.

Never under estimate the power of the Internet, or of mums.

My sister in law very kindly posted a request for help with our awareness survey on a very busy Mums website earlier this afternoon.

The response has been absolutely fantastic: in seven hours well over 100 people have filled in the survey form and the website has been busier than in ages.

The information so far is:

a) extremely useful
b) very interesting
c) anonymous (so please add your honest response as well)

What really touch me are the comments added on the response forms. They're under wraps, but let me just say that I feel encouraged, supported and useful.

There's no official end to the survey as yet, but at some point I will be showing the overall results to some big decision makers, to illustrate the need for a change of attitude, so please, add your voice and help us make changes - we don't want any more unnecessary tragedies.

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Intervention

Tue 29th Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

For the last two weeks we've been without our nanny, who's on leave. In the past, being without help for this amount of time would have filled me with fear, dread and at times depression.

For the first time since Jessica died I feel I am coping. Maybe it's because both children are at school/nursery during the weekday, but I don't think that's the extent. Possibly I've graduated as a Mum (albeit with a very basic level of qualification) or possibly it's because I also feel I'm able to help do something about the terrible condition that killed our wife and mother. Something, anything that prevents another's death is good.

Children's bedtime tonight was prompt and relatively struggle free, but Emily interrupted our bedtime rituals with, 'Daddy, I really miss Carly [our nanny] and Mummy.'

"We'll see Carly again soon, darling, and ..."

"But I still miss Mummy, Daddy."

"... we know we can't see Mummy, but we can look at her photograph, because she's safe in Heaven now. Mummy doesn't want you to be sad, Emily."

"Oww. But I reeeally miss my Mummy. I want to see her now, Daddy."

Even when they're without tears, these conversations leave me in no doubt as to why I want to start the ball of change rolling.

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Screen for GAS

Tue 8th Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

BBC South Today has tonight reported further in the aftermath of the two tragic deaths at The Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

The hospital has, to reassure its patients, implemented a screening programme for Group A Streptococcus, but it doesn't plan to continue with it beyond the short term.

So, is it just a PR exercise, or is this test an accurate and useful weapon against childbed fever (still nobody calls it that, it is still 'complications caused by...') There may 'only' be an average of six maternal sepsis deaths a year, but even one avoidable death is enough to warrant prevention, isn't it?

If the test is not accurate then why are they doing it? If it is not 'cost effective' to continue it or take it nationwide, does the NHS not consider what yet another death could cost it?

If there was anything that could stop mothers dying, surely a responsible government would want to implement it, when 30% of the population carry Group A Strep?

I hear so many stories from mothers who have only just survived a Group A Strep infection that, if the problem is not taken seriously, it will be a time bomb that we are sitting on.

If only infection rates were measured and not just deaths - this is a far more common problem than we are led to believe.

Watch the BBC's report 

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No news would have been good news

Sun 6th Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

There's been a fair bit of news recently (see here and here) about two poor mothers who gave birth on the same day, in the same hospital, and who both died within three days, just before Christmas. The coverage has focused on the fact that they both had a Group A Strep infection, and there has been much talk about infections (hospital and community acquired) and superbugs.

Luckily, it was acknowledged that GAS is not a superbug and that it is treatable. Unfortunately there was no mention of the fact that these two women died of Childbed/Puerperal Fever, and that it is a well documented and once much feared condition that should not be killing any more.

My heart goes out to these women and their families - how well Harry, Emily and I know their pain and confusion.

I have failed in my New Year's resolution to give up smoking (sorry, Harry) but am so far succeeding in my second - to tidy, sort and organise the house better. I also have a third: to step up the campaign to raise awareness of childbed fever. 2008 was always going to be a big year with the launch of my book, Friday's Child, in June but I want to make more noise and more of a difference than just that.

Thanks to a very kind person who has offered her professional help at no charge, I just may be able to. Many others have also offered to help, and I'm sure I'll be in touch.

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
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What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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