A first-time mother whose “severe headache and backache” was symptoms of fatal maternal sepsis and water in the brain at 30 weeks gestation told how her family feared leaving her son without a mother.
Michelle Bazari, 31, worked as a pre-school teacher in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland and was rushed to Victoria Hospital in nearby Kirkcaldy in May 2019 after calling 999 when she felt “a surge of blood” during a visit to the toilet in the Night.
She now lived in Nottingham with her family and her 18-month-old boy Braxton-Lee and only realized the gravity of her situation when she heard a paramedic warn the hospital of her alarming blood loss.
Still unaware that her and her baby’s life was in the balance, she said, “When I overheard the paramedic, I just thought, ‘Oh, I have a premature baby. ‘I just wanted my baby to be fine. ”
Michelle Bazari in the hospital with her father John (PA Real Life / Collect)
Michelle, who is not with her boy’s father and lives alone, said there was little warning of the horror to come.
“I haven’t felt well in a few days,” she said.
“I had severe headaches and back pain, but I thought these were just normal pregnancy symptoms.”
She was so sure everything was on the right track that she even agreed to move to a new apartment on May 13th – the day she was unexpectedly born.
When she experienced a slight loss of blood after going to bed, she thought little about it at first.
She said, “I know some people can bleed during pregnancy so I thought everything was normal and just went back to bed.
“But when I woke up and went back to the bathroom there was a huge gush of blood, so I called an ambulance.”
By the time she got to the hospital, Michelle still had no idea she had sepsis – a potentially fatal reaction to infection – which is the leading cause of maternal death in the UK according to an NHS study and was 1.13 between 2006 and 2006 per 100,000 deaths caused in 2008.
In the antenatal room, the mother-to-be couldn’t understand why the midwives insisted on opening the windows and said, “I felt very cold and very sleepy, but they said my temperature and blood pressure were both high.
“I fell asleep until the doctors came and told me it had something to do with an infection and my placenta and that they had to give birth early.”
Fortunately, her mother, Roselin Bazari, a mental health nurse, had flown in from the East Midlands to be there for the birth.
But Michelle has little memory of what happened when she kept falling asleep during the caesarean section.
Baby Braxton-Lee is healthy and lives with his mother (Anthony Aigbomian / Omonstony Photography)
“I felt a little pressure when my baby came out, asked if he was okay, and then immediately fell asleep again without seeing him or crying. I just didn’t know how sick I was, ”she said.
When she got to the recovery room, she was told by doctors that although her placenta was infected, it had not passed on to her baby who was being cared for in the specialty baby unit, it weighed 1320 g and was fine.
Unfortunately, her infection was too severe for her to see.
“In a way, it just wasn’t registered that I had a baby,” she recalled.
“I was sad that I hadn’t gone into full pregnancy with the pregnancy because I had so many plans for this final phase, like shopping for the baby and arranging with the doctor to be picked up and taken to the hospital for mine Caesarean section as well as other things on my ticklist.
“I kept thinking, ‘How did that happen? “
“But I also felt very confused. My visitors would talk, but I just couldn’t answer.
“I tried to get out of bed but my right leg didn’t move so I was put in a wheelchair to see my baby.
“Still, I wasn’t myself. I was just calm and didn’t react.”
On Thursday of that week Michelle was so sick that she was transferred to the intensive care unit, where she remembers her body trembling with what she was told “septic shock” and visitors crying by her bed.
She tried to speak, but her words made no sense and made her afraid to speak.
Concerned, doctors ordered a CT scan six days after she was born, which revealed fluid in her brain and caused both her blurred speech and the paralysis on her right side.
Their baby was taken to the more specialized Western General Hospital in Edinburgh to drain the fluid and stayed at Victoria Hospital.
At this point, Michelle and her family were also told that she had sepsis and was being treated with high doses of antibiotics.
Too uncomfortable to give her permission to have surgery, Michelle’s parents had to give her consent for her brain surgery.
Michelle pregnant with Braxton-Lee (PA Real Life / Collect)
All she can remember is coming and feeling something stuck up her throat – a tube that helped her breathe and feed – that she was trying to pull out.
It was a complete surprise to find out later that she had been in a coma for a week so her body could heal. Her family feared she would die and left Braxton-Lee without a mother.
“The doctor who came to remove the tube asked me if I knew where I was, when I was born and what happened,” she said
“I was just confused and shook my head.”
Michelle had woken from a coma after suffering a minor stroke with weakness on the right side of her body and had to learn to walk and speak again.
She was held in Edinburgh hospital for another three weeks until the antibiotics cleared her sepsis. She was eventually sent back to Victoria Hospital and reunited with her son, who had remained in Dunfermline and whom she had barely seen for a month.
“I knew I had a baby and the staff in Edinburgh kept showing me photos of how well he was, but when I got back to the hospital where he was born I couldn’t walk or take care of mine personal care, let alone I take care of him. “
It took the hospital’s physical therapists and nurses another three months to get Michelle back on her feet, bond with her new baby, and take care of him well enough to return to Nottingham with her parents.
“It was very emotional when they first took him in my arms,” she said. “I just hadn’t seen him so we didn’t have a chance to connect.”
In the weeks that followed, Michelle learned to take care of Braxton-Lee when she realized she was lucky enough to be alive.
She also discovered that the doctors once told her parents when she was in a coma after brain surgery that there was nothing more they could do for her.
Her brother Keithe Bizari, 27, a pianist, toured Scotland with the Kingdom Choir, who sang Stand By Me at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and visited them in the hospital.
He told Michelle that the family seriously feared they would lose them.
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Spurred on by her own experiences, Michelle is now “on a crusade” to raise awareness of the sepsis in mothers that she says can be caused if an infection is discovered during intercourse.
“Women don’t think about the risk of infection in pregnancy, but it’s important that we do,” she said.
“If you feel like something is wrong, you must insist that you be checked out.
“You know your body better than anyone. Ask about the tests and make sure what you are experiencing is not caused by maternal sepsis.”
Michelle, who is now a patient advocate, advocate for follow-up care for those affected, and volunteers with the Sepsis Trust charity, wants to highlight symptoms of the condition, which can include muscle pain, extreme tremors, speech disorder or confusion, and severe shortness of breath, and long periods without it Urine.
“I was lucky, I got to the hospital on time and my beautiful boy was unharmed,” said Michelle, who has stayed with her family throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
“But I was living alone at the time, and if I hadn’t called the ambulance that morning, I would have died easily.
“Now I thank God for every day I spend with Braxton-Lee, but I want other mothers-to-be to learn about maternal sepsis because not everyone who gets it has happy endings like me.”
According to the Sepsis Trust, it’s important to identify early on the condition caused by the body’s overreaction to an infection or injury.
A spokesman said: “If not treated immediately, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death. However, if diagnosed early, it can be treated with antibiotics.
“Many people have never heard of sepsis, but 48,000 of the 245,000 people affected die from sepsis each year in the UK. This is more than death from breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. “
For more information on sepsis, visit: Sepsistrust.org