Showing posts tagged with: 'mummy'

Karate slice

Mon 24th Sep 2007 by Ben Palmer.

While the pizza was in the oven tonight I ironed Harry's Karate Gi for tomorrow. That's not remarkable (or at least it shouldn't be) but what I was thinking while I steamed is.

I write, periodically, about some of the most intimate moments of my life, of Jessica's life and death. I'm used to that and it's a conscious decision, with a clear aim of trying to prevent it happening again to some other woman and her heart broken family.

What I never expected was to be inundated with emails and comments on this blog from other women who are prepared to share their equally intimate, graphic and heart rending stories of near disaster, pain and mistreatment.

I'm so grateful for all of this honesty and I hope that these stories as well as Jessica's will help to change things for the next mother, maybe for you.


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Only a child

Wed 29th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Harry looked green even after he'd been sick this afternoon. Skipping supper, he had a bath at the usual time and got ready for bed.

Suddenly he found new strength while watching CBeebies - all signs of being unwell have vanished and he began playing merry hell. I had to stop reading half way through the penultimate chapter of Prince Caspian (as I warned I would) and say goodnight.

Now he is dancing around in his bedroom, shaking the lights in the kitchen ceiling. He has broken the landing nightlight and is winding Emily up as well.

I've been up twice, read the riot act, then explained calmly that naughty behaviour is not acceptable. So far I have said goodnight three times. In return I've had Bear thrown at me, his photographs of Mummy have hit the deck and he's hurrumphed until I lost my temper. Only a child can recover from sickness so quickly.

He's angry. He's angry with me for telling him off, for playing the bad cop and for not giving him any tea or bedtime milk. All I can do is explain why and tell him I love him. "No you don't and anyway, I hate you, you silly man." I do and you don't.

What he won't be aware of for another hour (going on past experience) is that he's really angry because he doesn't have his mother, and he'll be sad that he discarded her photographs from his bedside chair. The only thing I don't know is whether he'll fall asleep before realising all of this or whether he'll come down the stairs, sobbing.


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It is strange

Wed 22nd Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"Does it feel strange, having people read about your life?" I was asked today by a Mum. "I feel it's a bit voyeuristic reading your blog."

I hadn't really thought about it that way. I know my parents, siblings, friends and some of the Mums and teachers at both Harry's and Emily's school read my blog - sometimes that's the only way people know what I'm up to, because I'm totally useless with a telephone and can be fairly forgetful about email as well sometimes. My web stats page tells me others read it too, but I often think of it as a number, not real people.

Every blogger has their own reason, and mine is two-fold. I want people to know about, and remember, puerperal sepsis: there is no reason or need for a mother in Britain (or any developed nation) to die from it, so fore-warned is fore-armed.

I also like writing about my children - they mean everything to me - and I like writing about the highs and lows of being a single parent and about coping, every day, with children who say things like, "I don't have a Mummy, 'cos she died and went to live in heaven."

It's not meant to be a sob story, though people do. It's meant to be a taste of a strange life that, God forbid, most will never know. Next time your other half has a go at you for forgetting to do something, for doing the wrong thing or just generally stuffing up; relish it - it keeps your feet on the ground, and proves that you're loved. Well it did for me, and it's one of the things I miss most.


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Breast is best

Mon 6th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Although she found it hard to start with, Jessica loved breastfeeding Harry, and she continued to do so for six months.

Her biggest sadness when she first was admitted to hospital and was being giving a rich cocktail of drugs, was that she wouldn't be able to breastfeed Emily until she was better. It really upset her.

I was really touched and pleased to find that a fellow blogger has picked up on my website and Jessica's story, and is helping to spread the word.

Particularly in light of Jessica's belief in breast milk, it only seems fitting that I do the same.  I recommend both her blog and her post today to you.


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Missing Mummy

Thu 2nd Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

jessica.jpgFor the first time in her little life, Emily just came up to me and said, "Daddy, I want my Mummy."

'Mummy' is just a concept and a photograph on the bedroom wall to Emily. She has grown up not knowing what it is to have a mother, just that she was once loved by a beautiful woman.

Harry's pain is lessening as he adjusts to life without her, and I've always feared that Emily had yet to feel her pain. Perhaps she's just starting to, at almost the exact age that Harry did.

"I know you want Mummy," I said as Emily sat on my knee, "Harry and Daddy want Mummy too. We all want Mummy, but you know where Mummy is, don't you?"

"Mummy's upstairs," Emily told me brightly and knowingly.

Upstairs in heaven with the angels; Mummy is an angel. Or did Emily just mean the photograph?


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Deliver us from this disaster

Mon 23rd Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

cot-hospital.jpgSo far I've always said that Maternity care in this country is excellent for babies and sub standard for mothers. The reasons for this are obvious, but it goes wider than Jessica and our family. So many of Jessica's friends have said that they were not adequately looked after post-natally, both in hospital and at home afterwards although, luckily, no permanent damage was done.

I've just watched Channel 4's Dispatches programme, 'Undercover Mother', and I'm not so sure any more. It showed that babies are also suffering from inadequately resourced Maternity services.

A few months ago BBC1 showed a Panorama programme, 'Midwives Undercover', which ended with the covertly recorded line from a midwife that said that nobody would sit up until they lost a mother. Well wake up and sit up: healthy mothers like Jessica are dying as well as babies. Neither baby nor mother is expendable, neither's loss should be budgeted for nor tolerated.

Why is this government ignoring the danger that we all; rich/poor, black/white, educated/uneducated, northern/southern, married/unmarried face. Childbirth is a traumatic and dangerous event for mother and baby, and it must be provided for. To Gold Standard.

This country is not going to stop having babies, and nobody's going to limit procreation to fit a government budget. The NHS must look at the number of babies being born, look at the level of care required to ensure the safety and health of its patients and plan accordingly. Now. Not in nine months time.


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Too many happy returns

Mon 23rd Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

three candlesLast Friday was my birthday. Having had much excitement with the childrens', particularly for Emily who still insists "it's my birthday today," it was a welcome low-key day, even if Harry and Emily were both churning out birthday cards for most of the time.

Everyone seems to think I should "have a wonderful day" on my birthday. Yes, I suppose I should, and I do try for the children's sakes, but it's still one of - if not the - hardest days of the year.

I'm not really a grumpy old man, but every birthday that passes widens the age gap between Jessica and I, and underlines how left behind she is. Of course she'll never be forgotten, but we've almost reached the point where Harry has been motherless for longer than he had one, and Emily - well, she reached that point before she was two weeks old.

There's a limit to how hard we can try to hold on to her, and every birthday underlines the current of time. All we have are our - mainly my - memories to return to, and there ain't no-one gonna take them away.


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Everlasting love

Tue 17th Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've been reading 'Danny the Champion of the World' to Harry and Emily at bedtime for the last week or so; sometimes one, sometimes two chapters - depending on our combined excitement.

It's a book I loved reading as a child, but I probably haven't picked it up in over twenty years. The images and memories are as strong as ever but every now and then, this time around, it leaves me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

Danny never knew his mother and, when his father speaks strongly and fondly of her, I can't help but cast a sideways glance at Harry and then Emily.

Harry's excitement at the next chapter is overriding, but I've had to explain a few things. Firstly, that I'm not a poacher, and secondly, that I would never, ever leave him (or Emily) alone in the house at night, nor with a babysitter that they didn't already know.

I feel that some things don't need explaining to Harry. He understands that love is enduring and can be felt even when unspoken. I hope that the same sense is growing inside Emily.


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Time of the moth

Sat 7th Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

SuitWhen I went to change for last night's school parents' party, I carefully brushed my suit jacket and then started on the trousers, only to find them full of moth larvae and holes. A cursory inspection of the rest of the rail found another suit and a jacket in the same state. I didn't dare look any further, and hung them on the garden bench.

With a horrible hangover this morning I looked again at the wardrobe. My three suits, two jackets and ten jumpers are now in the bin as they're all riddled with the same holes, larvae and wispy white trails of their devourers.

My morning coat, bought for Jessica's and my wedding, almost eight years ago, is a more recent feast I think, because although spotted with larvae I can't find any major damage. It's now in the deep freeze and will be dry-cleaned next week.

I bought one of the suits to wear to go away after our wedding reception, and have since worn it to Funeral, Inquest, legal conferences, round table settlement meeting and the High Court. It's travelled well with me until now and I'll miss it.

Throwing so much of my wardrobe out has made me think about Jessica's clothes in boxes upstairs. Some has already been sent to charity shops, but the 'most Jessica' of her clothes are still kept, maybe for dressing up boxes, maybe for Emily, maybe just for memories. I'm fearful that they could have been invaded but haven't dared look.

As Harry says, usually when he's in trouble and I'm a grumpy Daddy, "I'm not having a very nice life" today.


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Last man standing

Wed 4th Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I've just been out to dinner with the Mums from Harry's class, and the children's teachers. Another fantastic evening organised by our form Rep, Fiona, with much wine flowing. A fair bit of talk about breastfeeding and standing naked in the women's changing rooms at the gym as well, not that I know much about the latter, of course.

It was nice to be 'thrown out' by the manager and to stand on the pavement with him as he locked up. Curious as to why I had spent the evening with a dozen or so young and beautiful women, he asked me why and so I told him that I was an honorary girl for the night as my wife had died. "Oh, I'm sorry," he said in a thick Italian accent.

Not as sorry as I am - I'm a man and so I had to wait for the last taxi, whose driver didn't want to take the shortest and cheapest route home.


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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.
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.