A MUM has shared a devastating photo of her lying in a coma with her dead baby in her arms after doctors ignored her pre-eclampsia fears.
Lynsey Bell, from Newscastle upon Tyne, had suffered from the condition during her three previous pregnancies and was terrified history was repeating itself when a scan revealed her fourth child was smaller than he should be.
When the 33-year-old former nursery nurse’s health started to deteriorate, she begged doctors for help but was sent home with blood pressure medication.
The next day Lynsey lost her baby and was forced to deliver her stillborn son – but during the labour she suffered a devastating haemorrhage that nearly killed her.
When Lynsey discovered she was pregnant with a fourth child, her first reaction was to break down in tears.
She explained: “My husband Mark told me it was going to be alright, and I wanted to share his optimism, but I’d suffered pre-eclampsia while I was pregnant with Daisy (now 10), Max (seven) and Poppy (four).
“Each time my blood pressure had soared in the final weeks and the babies had been induced early.
“After Poppy’s birth my consultant had warned me that with each episode of pre-eclampsia the risk of developing it in future pregnancies increases.
“I was advised not to have any more children.”
Lynsey’s pregnancy hadn’t been planned and the news came as a shock, but the couple decided to give the baby a chance.
Her first trimester passed smoothly and as she was classed as high risk, Lynsey was given regular urine tests to check for protein and her blood pressure was monitored.
But her 28 week scan showed the baby was smaller than he should be.
Lynsey recalled: “The midwife said they’d book me in again at 32 weeks to see how he was developing and told me not to panic.
“But as I left the hospital my tummy churned with worry – a small baby was a sign of pre-eclampsia.
“I tried to stay calm and put my fears to the back of my mind. But by 32 weeks the baby hadn’t grown and my blood pressure was up and down like a yo-yo.”
To put her mind at rest Lynsey bought a home blood pressure testing kit so she could keep an eye on herself.
Each time it measured high she took herself into hospital – but after sitting in the waiting room for hours on end her blood pressure would stabilise and she’d be sent home.
As the weeks progressed, her heath took a downward turn.
She said: “My blood pressure was sky high, I had a raging headache and I was so swollen I was barely recognisable.
“Mark insisted on taking me back into hospital, where I begged for help.
“I sobbed to a midwife and pleaded her to get the baby out, but she just told me to go home and put my feet up.”
A few days later Lynsey went back in for a scan.
She explained: “Staring at the monitor I could see my little man darting and twisting.
“As his little arm moved up and down I said to Mark, ‘Look, he’s blowing kisses at us’.
“Afterwards, we saw my consultant. Again, my blood pressure was scarily high. I thought I’d be sent for tests, but instead she wrote out a prescription for medication to regulate my blood pressure.
“She warned me I might feel a bit sick and light-headed after taking them but told me not to worry as that was completely normal.”
The next day Lynsey woke feeling light-headed, but put it down to side-effects of the medication.
But that night, as Mark got ready for his nightshift at the factory where he worked, she felt a jolt judder through her bump.
After initially putting it down to Braxton Hicks, as the hours passed the pain got worse and by 2am she was doubled over in agony.
Terrified she was going into labour she phoned the hospital.
She recalled: “The midwife on the line didn’t seem too concerned. She told me to come in but said there was no rush.
“I phoned Mark who rushed straight home, and my brother Michael came over to babysit.
“When we arrived I was taken to a private room on the maternity ward and asked to supply a urine sample.
“But as the nurse dipped in the tester stick and looked at the results I saw her face tighten.
There was a high level of protein in my urine and my heart raced with fear as the nurse placed the heart monitor on my tummy to listen to my baby.
“But there was silence.”
Lynsey then had a scan which revealed she had lost her baby.
She explained: “In that moment, my whole world came crashing down.
“Then as Mark tried to comfort me, an agonising pain ripped through me.
“The doctor told me I needed to give birth to him but I begged for a caesarean – how could I give birth to a dead baby?
“However, my pleas fell on deaf ears.”
But as doctors opened Lynsey’s legs, blood gushed from inside her onto the white sheets of the bed.
She was haemorrhaging and doctors rushed her into theatre.
Two days later she awoke from a coma.
She had developed serious pre-eclampsia that had caused her placenta to detach from her womb, causing the haemorrhage.
Their fourth son, Rory, had died instantly.
Doctors had struggled to stem the bleeding and had to deliver a transfusion of 15 pints of blood, then her kidneys started to fail so she was put on dialysis.
The surgeon also had to perform a hysterectomy.
While Lynsey was sleeping, Mark put Rory in her arms and took a picture.
Lynsey said: “They thought it might be the only photo of the two of us together we’d ever have.
“Later I was asked if I wanted to see him. I didn’t want to, but I was his mummy, and I knew I had no choice.
“Mark went to fetch Rory from a fridge on the labour ward, then came back with our boy in his arms.
“I looked at my boy, but I was scared. Reluctantly I reached out and touched him. He was cold and his cheeks were hard.
“I asked Mark to take him away, but as he did I was hit by overwhelming guilt. Rory was my son. I needed to care for him, I owed him that.
“So when Mark brought him for another visit I drank in every perfect little feature of his body. I took photos of his face, the back of his head and his tiny fingers and toes.
“I changed his nappy and rocked him in my arms, and my bond grew and grew.
“For 15 days as I recovered, we saw Rory as much as we wanted.
“My only fear was letting him get too warm. If I felt we’d cuddled him too long I told Mark to put him back in the fridge – I wanted to preserve my boy for as long as we possibly could.”
When Lynsey was discharged they brought Rory home for one special night.
She explained: “We did everything we would have done during his first year. We cuddled him in bed, we read him stories, we changed and bathed him, we showed him his nursery and his wardrobe full of clothes.
“Our families came to say goodbye, each taking a turn for one last cuddle.
“Now, Rory is buried alongside my granddad in a cemetery near where we live.
“In a glass lantern I keep a candle burning, going back every two days to replace it. And we make sure we talk about Rory openly with the kids.
“Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d been induced early. Would Rory have been OK? But I try not to let those thoughts consume me. I’ve got three children who need me and I’m lucky to be alive to be their mummy.
“People often feel awkward about mentioning Rory’s name around me, but I love talking about my son. He’s just as much a part of our family as our living children.
“I’ll never forget my special baby, and for as long as I’m able I’ll keep his candle burning.
“I won’t let the light go out on my precious boy.”