A Subject of True Importance

After an extended hiatus, I knew I wanted my first blog to be about something special. I'm not sure this subject can be described as special, but I can absolutely describe it as incredibly important. 

Now you may or may not know, but I spent a large proportion of my pregnancy in hospital. My waters broke at 23 weeks and I was ordered to stay on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I was having twice weekly hospital visits, and praying for my little girl to stay cooking. She was born a perfectly healthy, 7lbs 4oz, 4 weeks early, which the doctors told us was a miracle. 

Then, after all that, at just 4 weeks old, we almost lost her. 

One evening in January, I had my daughter resting on my chest as I watched Call the Midwife. As the show came to an end, I noticed my then as yet unnamed little girl, throw herself backwards, eyes wide open, as if stunned and lips tightly pursed. It took a moment to realise that, although she was conscious, she was unable to breathe. 

My first instinct was to pat her back, between the shoulder blades, this made no difference, and it was then that I realised - I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. 

Her lips began to turn blue and I screamed for my older daughter, who was upstairs, to call an ambulance. 

Panic firmly set in now, as what I was doing wasn’t working and she had begun to grow limp. 

I felt that she was giving up and I, her Mummy, couldn’t help her. I cannot adequately describe how devastating a realisation this was.

I completely lost it. Hysterical, I fell to the floor, screaming and crying as my baby’s cheeks began to get red hairline marks all over. She maintained eye contact with me the whole time, as if to say “help me” and I couldn’t. I didn’t have a clue.

By this point I was on my knees begging her, PLEASE BABY, I NEED YOU TO BREATHE! PLEASE BREATHE FOR MUMMY!

My eldest daughter, Téja, then came into the room with the emergency operator on the phone, who, through my daughter, instructed me on Baby CPR. An amazing feat in itself as she had to simultaneously calm me down in order to pass on the information.

After 2 rounds of breaths and chest compressions, True began to foam at the mouth and a tiny gasp was made. It felt like she had drawn that tiny breath for the both of us. I was instructed to do another round, and as I did so the ambulance team arrived as she struggled to breathe properly. Relief. Although she was still struggling, struggling was so much better than the unresponsive baby I had been dealing with for the past few minutes.

It took about 10 minutes for her breathing to return to normal, but thankfully, return it did.

My husband, who was working at the time, is fully first aid trained. I, obviously, was not.

The next few days were an absolute blur, we were taken by ambulance to our local children’s hospital, and over the next few days, True was tested for everything possible. While the doctors are still not 100% certain, they do suspect that True is suffering from what is apparently quite a common condition called reflux (GERD). Something I found extremely surprising, as we were not warned about this.

My girls and I were given first aid training at True’s hospital bedside. After the event. Now while I am grateful for the teaching we received, especially as True has had a few similar episodes since that awful evening. I can't help but think this training, prior to the event, would have helped us to avoid being utterly traumatised by the whole experience.

That being said, better late than never is very apt, as her subsequent episodes were greeted with a much more calm and controlled reaction. Armed with this invaluable knowledge, we all feel capable of confidently dealing with her, thus avoiding another awful experience. In fact, each episode has been over and done with, within seconds, rather than the agonising minutes I spent bewildered and hysterical.

It’s funny, as new parents we are given SO much advice; place babies at the bottom of the cot, ensure they sleep on their backs, keep the room cool, I could go on and on. But at no point were we told about the importance of First Aid knowledge. This baffles me. 

Today I appeared on This Morning to speak about what happened, not to sensationalise it, but to implore those of you who are parents or caregivers of any kind, to arm yourself with the invaluable knowledge that Paediatric First Aid provides. Especially considering the fact that choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for infants, who require a different rescue procedure than adults.

I’ve also joined forces with Nicola, who appeared in the film I made for This Morning, to talk about a similar situation she experienced with her gorgeous daughter, CeCe. I’m in full support of her campaign to make infant first aid training for choking, and CPR compulsory in all NHS neonatal units and antenatal classes. I have signed her petition, and I’d like to encourage you to do so too.  I'm also looking forward to doing more with her in the future and we're affectionately calling the campaign the "True CeCe Campaign", in light of our shared experience x 

And in the meantime, while First Aid isn’t compulsory for new and expectant parents on the NHS, i'd like to point you in the direction of a fantastic company I got in touch with, called Daisy First Aid, (also in the film)  who specialise in the teaching of paediatric first aid all over the UK. I’ve partnered with them and when ordering a gift card for a class near you, you’ll get 20% off when using my unique discount code; JAMFIRSTAID

And until you can get yourself formally trained, please do familiarise yourself with the correct infant first aid procedures recommended by St John’s ambulance for choking.

And Dr Ranj's demonstration for what to do in the event of finding an infant who is not breathing/unresponsive could also prove helpful. 

It still isn’t easy for me to talk about, and our family has been traumatised. But being in the public eye, I feel a duty to use my position to raise awareness for an important cause that is now close to my heart. The fact that 95% of us would have no idea what to do in the situation we found ourselves in on that January evening is shocking. And while I pray you never need to use them, I cannot stress just how empowered you will feel knowing that you have these skills in your locker should you ever need to call on them.

Oh, and True is doing really well now, she's a very happy and funny baby. She's taken over Tiani's spot as Diva of the household and is completely surrounded by love x