Showing posts tagged with: 'mummy'


Mummys in Heaven

Sun 1st Jul 2007 by Ben Palmer.

We've had the Diana Concert on all afternoon, and Harry picked up on it quite early on. I explained about Diana and who she was and who Princes William and Harry are. Harry picked up the story with, "I've heard of her, and their Daddy's going to be king when The Queen dies." No flies on him.

Then we got around to why there was a concert for her birthday and why she wasn't there. We talked once again about people dying young and what a beautiful and kind princess Diana was.

"So, you see, Harry," I finished, "Even a Mummy in the Royal Family can die too soon." There was just a glimmer of recognition in his eyes; that it could happen to anyone, as he looked back to William and Harry.

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Retraining the NHS

Mon 25th Jun 2007 by Ben Palmer.

So Gordon's going to be driving the train in a few days, and the popular buzz seems to be that he'll be re-shuffling his conductors in a major way.

I wonder what Patricia Hewitt's prospects are? Her First Aid carriage is in pretty bad array, so she may be waiting on the platform. Few will be waving out of the windows as the train steams out of the station, but who will take up her post?

Whoever it is will have their work cut out, but my original invitation to Patsy still stands, in the event she is replaced. As reported back in March, my invitation to the incumbent Health Secretary is:

"I would like the Health Secretary to explain to my two children why Jessica isn’t going to tuck them up in bed tonight."

I've waited three months already, and I'll wait for as long as it takes for somebody to take responsibility.

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Faith in healers

Mon 25th Jun 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"What's an infection, Daddy?" Harry interrupted the bed time story. "How do you get an infection, Daddy?"

No prizes for guessing what was on his mind, but satisfied with my answers, he tucked himself back down again.

They're questions he has asked time and time again, and I always explain them as accurately as I can in six year old terms, but I can see he's struggling to understand why Mummy died because of her infection. Why, if doctors (real or make believe, like Emily with her new doctor's kit) are there to make people better with stethoscopes and medicine, did his mother not get better?

He is obviously not getting it to add up, but the only thing left for me to tell him is that the doctors (in his world this would include midwives as well) could have made Mummy better, but didn't recognise that she was ill until it was too late to save her.

I know that when the penny drops he will be angry. So, so angry. I won't be able to say he shouldn't be and it's going to be very painful for us all.

What will I say to them both if one of us gets even slightly ill? That the doctor will make us better? Will they believe me? Pretty unlikely, I would guess.

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What a cheek

Sun 24th Jun 2007 by Ben Palmer.

It's unbelievable to think that Emily was born three years ago to the minute.

I was going to say that she was so small, but she was a very large small thing at 9lb 13ozs. Yet she was still so vulnerable and dependant, and also very opinionated.

Now I look at her, with a 'Dora the Explorer' back pack on - I gave it to her at some ungodly hour this morning, and she hasn't taken it off since - and she is still so strong-willed and determined. Determined to be her mother's daughter without every having known her; she is the spitting image of Jessica in looks and character.

When I tucked her up last night, she held my face with her hands and turned to give me a cheek. "Kiss me here, Daddy," she ordered.

Jessica would be so proud today.

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Into the tunnel

Fri 22nd Jun 2007 by Ben Palmer.

It's been a very busy week at work, so I've barely thought about blogs, let alone anything else. Now that it's Friday night I've got some breathing space and there's a lot to think about.

Sunday is Emily's birthday. She'll be three, and she will cause mayhem with pink wrapping paper and chocolate cake. It'll be a fun and busy day for her, but a part of me will be in the past, remembering.

Poor Harry will too. He hasn't yet fully understood the link between the birth of the baby sister that he has loved since the moment he saw her and the death of his mother, but sadly he's getting there.

He'll be a little sad and reflective in the coming week (going on past form) and there could well be some scenes. All I can do is let him get on with it within a safety barrier, and be there to pick up the pieces if tears take over.

Each in our own way we'll have to relive the events of 2004 day by day, but hopefully the campaign highlight I've got planned will lift us all a little.

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Cake and candles

Tue 22nd May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Mummy’s BalloonIt's Jessica's birthday today. She should be 37, but she will always be 34 in our hearts and in our memories.

I've bought a helium balloon, and at the children's request, a birthday cake as well. We'll have our little tea party and then, like we always have, we'll write our messages of love on the balloon and let it go from our garden and watch it rise magnificently.

Usually there's a wind that blows it over the roof of the house and out of sight, to go wherever it will, but today is calmer than in previous years and so with luck we'll see it keep rising, until it's a speck, up to Mummy in Heaven.

It's hard to believe it's nearly three years since we saw her; at times it seems like just yesterday, the memories are so strong. At other times it seems like a lifetime ago.

It is, for Emily.

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One’s only a number

Wed 16th May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I wrote to my MP a while back, and she tabled a written question in Parliament, addressed to the Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the death rate per million maternities from puerperal sepsis and other forms of septicaemia was in each year since 1999-2000; and if she will make a statement.”

The answer came from Ivan Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Dept of Health.

“Deaths from puerperal sepsis are very rare. The Department-sponsored confidential enquiry into maternal deaths 'Why Mothers Die' report for 2000-02 only identified five women who died of puerperal sepsis in the United Kingdom for the three years 2000 to 2002. This gives a maternal death rate of 2.5 per million maternities. The next report is due to be published later this year and will contain the figures for the three year period 2003-05.”

Well: if you discount the eight further deaths from sepsis before term or after caesarian, yes it's five. Wait, he didn't say that, he said “only...five women who died.” Oh silly me, getting all worked up about dead mothers – it's OK really after all, it's only five.

If you look at the years since 1984 - the last time no deaths from sepsis were recorded - 30 women have died from this easily treatable illness. If you look at pre-term and post-caesarians as well, add another 59.

But it doesn't matter, does it Mr Lewis? It's only 89 families without a mother; don't trouble Patsy with it, because each family has only lost one mother, and any statistician will say that it doesn't get much better than that.

The full answer to the original question, according to 'Why Mothers Die?', for the period 2000-02 is 13 deaths making a rate of 6.5 per million maternities.

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Minimum iron percale

Sun 13th May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

We've just been to buy sheets for the children's new beds which are being delivered tomorrow. On the way into the underground car park Harry commented that he'd been there before. Yes, with Mummy – a long time ago. Buying things for the house, and for the children's room in particular is the sort of thing that Jessica would have loved doing, and she'd have chosen well for them.

Emily picked out pink spots and pastel flowers. Her taste is as similar to her mother's as is her character. Nature not nurture, however good a job I'm doing.

They both proudly clutched their bedding as we queued to pay. The assistant even gave Emily her own little carrier bag to carry one item in. She probably thought, 'What a good husband, giving his wife Sunday morning off while he and their children go shopping.'

There's much excitement back in the house as lunch is cooking. Discussions about where the beds are right now, and whether there'll be time to put them together before bedtime tomorrow. It's actually a bunk bed, but we'll only put up one half of it as a single for Harry, and Emily can have his junior bed for a few months, while she gets used to the lack of cot bars.

Through the discussion and as we lay up for lunch, I'm aware that the kitchen table which Jessica lovingly beeswaxed is looking worn and thirsty, and still has the detritus of jam and cereal from breakfast on it. Never mind, it'll wipe up with the mince that'll be ground in with it, before I get back to writing a press release.

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Pasta and pesto

Sat 12th May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

"Did it hurt when Mummy died, Daddy?" is not your average conversation opener during children's tea.

Coming from a five year old boy, clearly it warranted a considered reply. "The doctors made Mummy as comfortable as they could, and in fact, she was asleep for a long while before she died." On a ventilator too, but I omitted that bit.

"But, do you know, Harry, the last thing that Mummy and Daddy talked about before she died was you and Emily. She loved you so, so much."

He beamed at that. It reminds me (not that I need reminding) why I feel such a strong urge to make a difference. There shouldn't have to be any more children that are like Harry and Emily.

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Have your say

Sat 12th May 2007 by Ben Palmer.

I sometimes feel, when I'm a web reader rather than a writer, that web sites and the people behind them can be a bit intimidating, so I observe but don't get involved.

I imagine that Jessica's trust may be the same. I write, I craft and I create a petition, but short of the petition signers, I only get a little feedback. I'd love to have more, but the stories, comments and observations that I do hear are so powerful that I wonder if I could take in any more. Do try me though, it makes it all worthwhile.

For this reason I set up the Your Say page. It isn't about me or Jessica any more, it's about the future mother and her family, so they deserve to be heard as well. Maybe commenting on a blog will be more approachable. I hope so, so go on: have your say!

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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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