'I didn’t expect to bring my first born home in a tiny white coffin' – grieving mum on losing baby to 'missed opportunities'
'Eli should be here. We should have a one-year-old running around. My husband and I are still trying to come to terms with it'
A grieving mum whose newborn baby passed away due to medical mishaps said that she still blames herself for what happened.
Krystle Hunt from Tramore, Co Waterford went into labour on October 18, 2016 at University Hospital Waterford (UHW).
Krystle, who was 41 weeks pregnant, said that as a first time mum she had no idea what to expect during labour with her son Eli.
"I had a very easy pregnancy and I was overdue. I found out earlier in my pregnancy that I had the Strep B infection but that it was common among women and that it could be treated with antibiotics," Krystle told Independent.ie.
"During my labour, there were a lot of missed opportunities. I developed sepsis and I had a high temperature. I had severe pain in my hips and tummy but as a first time mum I had no idea that this level of pain wasn’t normal. I was never led to believe by doctors that anything abnormal was going on."
Despite the warning signs of developing sepsis, seven and a half hours passed before Krystle was taken to theatre for an emergency C Section.
"I knew when Eli came out that something was wrong. He had no heartbeat and wasn’t breathing when he was born. He was rushed to Cork University Hospital where he died less than two weeks later."
An inquest found that hat Eli died from brain damage arising out of an inflammatory response due to ascending amniotic fluid infection arising from the Group B Streptoccocal infection.
The coroner heard that there was no doubt that warning signs were missed and that there were "missed opportunities" during Eli’s birth.
Krystle said that she and her husband Trevor were left devastated.
"For other first time mums I would advise them to just not accept that everything is going ok.
"Inform yourself as much as you can and ask questions. After I had Eli I was told about sepsis and the Strep B and how fatal it can be.
"I wish I had had known that before Eli was born. I would have picked up on the warning signs.
"I should have had an emergency C section once my sepsis was detected. Unfortunately all signs were missed.
"It was very hard for me and Trevor to hear that. Eli should be here. As a mum I did everything right, and this still happened. I still blame myself even though I know it wasn’t my fault. The anger adds another layer to the grief."
She added that passing the Strep B infection onto a baby is preventable and that maternity services in Ireland should have mandatory testing for pregnant women.
"Mandatory testing could save a lot of babies’ lives," Krystle said.
Next week, Eli would have been celebrating his first birthday.
"He should be here. We should have a one-year-old running around. My husband and I are still trying to come to terms with it. The last few months have been very hard as we remember the milestones we were going through in my pregnancy this time last year.
"I can’t mark his first anniversary because I feel guilty. It’s very hard. I know I’m not to blame for that night but I feel let myself down. As a mother, your natural reaction is that I should have been protecting my child.
"When I’m having a good day, I feel guilty because Eli isn’t here with me. I feel like I should be protecting him and be with him."
Krystle said she believes that all parents who suffer miscarriages, stillbirths or lose a baby feel the same sense of emptiness.
"Pregnancy is such an exciting time. We had the nursery ready with Eli’s cot, clothes and pram all ready to go. It’s very hard to come back from the hospital and see all his stuff.
"I didn’t expect to bring my first born child home in a tiny white coffin.
"We had to watch our baby turn blue and gasp for air, each time scared this would be it."
She added that it was very hard explaining to family members that Eli was perfect, but that he was going to die.
"It was very traumatic. It’s like losing someone through a car crash or sudden illness.
"But it’s worse because you can’t talk about it. Infant loss is hard to talk about. People don’t give parents the chance to speak about it. They’d rather avoid it.
"Eli was very much here and was very much a part of our family. People often won’t say his name but they’ll just refer to him as the baby. It makes us feel better when we can acknowledge his presence."
Krystle added that because she doesn’t have any other kids, she finds it very difficult not being recognised as a mother.
"We would love more kids but we need to take time to heal for ourselves. What happened makes us more aware of the dangers and we want to make sure that we are ready."
The grieving mum praised the work of Féileacáin, which aims to offer support to anyone affected by the death of a baby during pregnancy or shortly after.
The organisation was formed by a group of bereaved parents who supported each other after the death of their own babies and have now come together to formally offer support to other parents and families who find themselves in a similar situation.
"Féileacáin were excellent. They provided us with beautiful memory boxes and a cuddle cot so we could take Eli home with us after he passed away.
"They also provided us with matching teddies so we could bury Eli with one and keep the other with us. They gave us precious time with Eli."
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact Féileacáin at http://www.feileacain.ie/ or 085 2496464.