"How can you sum up something which means so much…"
How can you sum up something which means so much to so many people? Something which is written from the heart and I expect through tears?
I read this book in just under 5 hours one Sunday evening, I could not put it down. I didn't want to do anything else apart from sit in silence and take in the magnitude of the words laid in front of me.
I read and re-read, making sure I was taking it all in. I cried. I got angry. I mourned. I felt a sense of loss for the author, for his children and his family. This book touched my heart and mind in ways I cannot explain.
Ben Palmer wrote this book in 2004 after his wife Jessica gave birth to their second child, a much wanted daughter and sister for their 3yr old son Harry. I am sure at the time the last thing he thought he would be doing is writing a book. Telling the story of how his wife was taken from him, their son and 6 day old daughter. I imagine he had never wanted to write a book - although he says that Jessica did, and she said that 'everyone had one book in them'. Sadly Jessica is the inspiration for this book - I wish she hadn't been. But sadly there will always be someone out there going through this, with 18 deaths between 2003-2005 attributed to 'childbed fever' (also known as puerperal fever or sepsis).
Ben gives the background to their story with details on how they met, including emails from friends, clients and family from before Emily was born to months after Jessica's death.
We learn how Ben had to cope with 2 children during Jessicas time in hospital, how Jessicas health deteriorated rapidly and this could (and should) have been picked up earlier. As little as just a few hours before Jessicas hospital admission, she could have been saved, with something as simple as antibiotcs.
You feel the excitement in the lead up to their daughters' arrival, the thrill of welcoming a new baby into this world, and then suddenly, you feel the crash. 'STOP' 'NO' I found myself shouting, literally trying to rewrite history, wishing I was not reading this book because I wish there wasn't this story to tell.
You literally 'live' through Bens story, you feel every emotion possible - happiness, joy, excitement - sadness, crying, anger, frustration, helplessness.
After Jessicas death, their daughter has to be tested and family rally round. Jessica is then buried and Ben attempts to come to terms with what they are all going through. A legal battle begins to establish responsibility for Jessicas death and to secure the childrens future.
This book is a rollercoaster. You want to know everything is 'OK' - but will it ever be? For Ben, Emily and Harry their mother and wife was taken away. For Jessica, she never gets to see her children grow up or feel her husbands' arms around her.
We only have to read this book and then we can walk away - but this will happen again, another mother will die - we have to support the trust which Ben has set up in honour of his wife.
www.jessicastrust.org.uk The Aims: "We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life";
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