A young mum who was left her fighting for her life after suffering a placental abruption has described the pain of losing her baby boy to raise awareness of the rare condition, which affects just one per cent of pregnancies.
When Amy Curry’s baby Alfie was born three months early last July, he weighed a tiny 2lb 10oz. The 26-year-old from Penwortham was hopeful he would recover, but just six days after he was born, he died in her arms after suffering from the resulting complications.
Amy says: “I woke up on the morning of July 11, 2018 and my tummy felt a bit strange. I was 28 weeks pregnant.
“Before long, I had a shooting pain I’d never experienced before in my life and started thinking I was going into labour. It got worse and I lay on the bathroom floor in agony.
“My mum managed to get me into the car and that drive to the doctors was the most horrendous I have ever taken in my life. The panic was starting to really set in. As I stumbled towards the entrance to the surgery, my waters broke and blood just started to pour.
“They called an ambulance and I remember fading in and out of consciousness. I later found out that I lost two-and-a-half litres of blood (more than four pints) and was lucky not to have needed a transfusion.
“The actual birth was surreal. I just remember dozens of people around me and being whisked into theatre for an emergency C-section. They started putting tubes in my mouth and nose and the next thing I was out.
“I woke up and a woman said to me: ‘Congratulations, you have a baby boy,’ and I smiled. When they wheeled me down to see him in the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) I couldn’t believe it. He was gorgeous. Although he was only 2lb 10oz he was perfectly formed. He looked like I could just take him home.
“I named him Alfie John, his middle name is after my dad. I just kept looking at him, thinking ‘Wow, I did that. I made him.’ I was so proud.
“Alfie was stable for 24 hours and I started to get my hopes up and think maybe he would be okay. But as the days went on, he went downhill. Each day there was something new. He was starting to develop problems with his kidneys, his lungs and his heart, and then bleeding on the brain started.
“The complications were due to the placental abruption. The doctors didn’t know how long the placenta had been detached but he hadn’t been receiving the right nutrients and oxygen.
“The frightening thing was that there had been absolutely no signs whatsoever. I’d had a textbook pregnancy and everything had looked fine at my scans.
“It was difficult, but in the end we made the decision to take Alfie off the machines. Before we did, the neonatal nurse at Derian House Children’s Hospital, Penny, came to see us. She arranged for some of the Derian staff to do his hand and footprints.
“When Alfie was taken off oxygen, the doctors told me he shouldn’t have even survived two minutes, but he lasted four hours. I held him in my arms with his head near my heart because he was used to my heartbeat. I just talked to him and gently tickled him, so he went off really peacefully. And when he did I knew straight away.
“After Alfie died I bathed him, got him changed, and put him in his little hat and blanket.
“Alfie stayed in one of the Sunflower Rooms at Derian House Children’s Hospice. The staff were lovely with him.
“I don’t think there are enough words to describe what Derian House has done for me. I don’t think I’d have got through it without them. I needed the time I got with him there and it’s what I valued most.
“I had counselling through Derian and am still using some services there now. It’s a safety net when you’re at your lowest. In amongst the sadness, I’ve met some amazing people who have shared in my tears and laughter.
“On what would have been Alfie’s birthday – October 2 – we released a balloon with messages written on it for him. I didn’t want to let his due date go by without being marked. It was too special for that.
“I want to tell my story to raise awareness of this rare condition, because I’d not heard of it before it happened to me. The doctors later told me that I was incredibly lucky to have survived and that if it had happened when I was out shopping it was likely that I wouldn’t be here.
“When something like this happens, it changes you. I’m not the same person I was before I gave birth. But I feel hopeful for the future. I hope one day to have a brother or sister for Alfie.”