Lifestyle and parenting blogger Katie Williams was 41 weeks pregnant when she went into labour with her second daughter, Emmie, in the early hours of April 25.
But just minutes before her parents arrived to look after her eldest daughter Elara, who was fast asleep, she found herself in excruciating pain and completely drained of all energy.
It was the start of a very long and deeply traumatising few days for both mother and baby which would end in unimaginable tragedy.
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“Just before my parents arrived I felt an almighty, incredibly painful tear just under my left breast,” recalled Katie, 28, from Swansea.
“I instantly dropped to the floor and told my partner Mike where the pain was and to phone an ambulance as something was wrong.
“I was instantly wiped of all energy and couldn’t even open my eyes. The pain was constant and I could no longer tell when I was contracting.
“The paramedics strapped me into a chair and carried me down my stairs, through my home, down my steps outside and into the ambulance.”
Despite being in severe pain, Katie was initially taken to the midwifery-led unit at Singleton Hospital, Swansea, where it was discovered that Emmie had “pooped” in her waters which can block the baby’s airways. She was then rushed to theatre for an emergency C-section.
“As soon as they opened me up two litres of blood clots fell to the floor. They got Emmie out and she wasn’t breathing. They resuscitated her but she took 14 minutes to start breathing which resulted in her sustaining brain damage.”
A day later Katie woke up from an induced coma to discover she had undergone an extensive and risky operation which could easily have claimed her life.
“After my C-section they had to cut right up my tummy to search for where the bleed was coming from and discovered my spleen’s artery had torn. There is a 75% mortality rate just for this part of my surgery,” she explained.
“I was then taken by ambulance to ICU at Morriston Hospital – away from Emmie and Mike – and lost another two litres of blood there – which totalled a massive 10-and-a-half litres of blood lost – so they reopened me and had another dig around to make sure I had stopped bleeding.
“It was a huge surgery and everyone in the two hospitals seemed to know who I was or had worked on me.”
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After waking from her second coma she was transferred back to Singleton Hospital – where she had given birth – to be reunited with two-day-old Emmie and Mike.
Katie added: “She was perfect. She was everything I dreamt she would be – red hair, beautifully soft skin and the cutest little button nose you have ever seen. I was told that she was extremely poorly but continued to pray and believe she would be okay.”
However, in the following days Emmie’s body began shutting down to the point where doctors could do nothing to save her. The parents then had to make the heartbreaking decision to give her pain relief and remove her life support.
“Emmie passed away peacefully in my arms on Sunday, May 2, and I already know I will never be the same person again,” admitted Katie.
“She never opened her eyes. She never made a noise. I never got to see her beautiful eyes open or her little arms and legs moving in my arms. Emmie was forever on the move in my tummy and would kick me non stop. I would always see her wriggling away at the scans, so to see her so still broke my heart.
“The horrendous guilt I feel that my body didn’t keep Emmie safe will live with me forever. I know that it wasn’t something I could control, but as a mum all you want to do is protect.”
Katie, who needed to have her spleen removed during the ordeal, added: “I would give my life for one more cuddle, one more kiss. Just to hold her tiny perfect body and bring Emmie home. Life is just too cruel and I cannot even explain to you the utter heartbreak we are feeling.
“I am broken. I am a shell of the person I use to be and I don’t think that’ll ever change. I am constantly aching for Emmie; constantly wishing that she was here and sobbing every single day for hours on end.”
As a result of the surgery and essential blood transfusions, Katie said she developed sores on her body as well as extreme swelling, dry, itchy skin and eczema. She also suffered a collapsed lung, pneumonia and needed an abdomen drain put in to reduce the abscess that had collected where her spleen used to be.
She added: “Being a new mum without a baby is hell. There are not enough words to describe the loss we have suffered. If love could have saved Emmie she would have lived forever.
“The pain is truly something else. I feel numb, broken, lost and angry. My baby girl deserved to live and I can never accept why she isn’t here.”
A GoFundMe page was set up for Katie and her family to help them cope with this terrible tragedy. To donate please go here.
“I’m blown away by the incredible love and support we’ve received, and I cannot even begin to thank you all for the lovely advice, support and just kindness,” she added.
“So many of you have lit candles on Emmie’s behalf and it’s such a beautiful feeling knowing she is also so cared for by so many people.”
Katie added: “My wound has finally healed after three months and I finally feel like I’m recovering. I still cannot walk very far and require a wheelchair for long distances.”
To read Katie’s blog about her experiences, as well as on lifestyle, beauty and parenting, please go here.
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