Mum suffered a rare reaction to the epidural used for her caesarean section, causing memory loss.
Bernadette Strange, 35, developed an unusual form of meningitis which left her in a coma for three days and wiped most of her memories, reports Daily Mail.
‘It was such an awful time,’ said Mrs Strange. ‘When I first woke from my coma, I didn’t even know who I was, let alone know who my husband and our children were.
‘I couldn’t remember I’d been pregnant, and certainly couldn’t remember that I’d given birth just days ago.
‘Neil kept showing me photo after photo of a baby he kept telling me was ours.
‘But I was adamant that it wasn’t mine and I’d never given birth to him.’
Mrs Strange, of Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, gave birth to Elijah in January 2014 and posed for a happy family photo.
Just hours later in the recovery ward, she started to suffer the reaction to the anaesthetic. It had caused a rare strain of bacterial meningitis to develop and she quickly slipped into a coma. ‘The doctors didn’t even know if I was going to survive,’ she said. ‘They phoned Neil straight away to get him to come back to the hospital as things weren’t looking good.
‘Three days later when I finally woke from my coma, I had no idea of who I was. I didn’t recognise anyone around me, including my husband. And I certainly didn’t remember giving birth.
‘It took a few days of Neil and the doctors gently telling me who I was before I started to remember. It was so scary – my mind was a complete blank. It is terrifying not knowing who you are.’
Gradually Mrs Strange started to remember who she was but still refused to believe she was Elijah’s mother.
‘Neil kept showing me the photos and then finally after ten days something clicked in my memory,’ she said.
‘Yes I had been pregnant and this was my baby. But I still couldn’t remember anything of the birth at all.
‘My sister came to visit me. She showed me some photos of a house I had never seen before in my life. She told me it was my house but I didn’t remember it.’
Elijah went home to be with his father and brother Theo, now six, but it was two weeks before his mother could join him and have her first proper cuddle. She said: ‘I had finally accepted that he was my baby – even though I still couldn’t remember giving birth to him.
‘When Neil drove me home through our village, it was like seeing it for the first time. I had no recollection of it and no recollection of the house. It was as though we had just bought it and each room was new as I walked around.
‘Neil had kept a diary for me for the first two weeks of Elijah’s life so I could read it and feel that I hadn’t missed out on it. So he wrote down all the nappy changes he’d done and when he’d had his feeds.’
Despite regaining most of her memory, Elijah’s birth and first two weeks are still a blank. ‘The only thing I have of the birth is the photo Neil took of us holding Elijah just after he had been delivered,’ said Mrs Strange.
‘I went to see the GP as I was so upset. She was wonderful and told me I have the whole of my life left with Elijah, so to focus on that, not the two weeks I have lost.
‘She told me just to concentrate on enjoying being a mum so that’s what I’m doing. Theo loves his brother and I feel lucky to be a mum to them.’
Meningitis is a rare but serious complication of spinal and epidural anesthesia.
The strain of meningitis that Bernadette suffered was so rare that her consultant wrote a case study which was published in a medical journal.
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