CRADLING beautiful baby Mirren in her arms, Pamela Sinclair couldn’t look any happier.
She’s clearly delighted at being a new mum – especially as she almost didn’t survive to experience it.
“She’s our little miracle,” the 33-year-old gushes, gently kissing the tot’s head.
“And I suppose in a way, I’m her miracle too.”
Just days after giving birth, Pamela was in a coma in hospital, with sepsis, pneumonia and a rare skin condition which meant several layers had to be cut away.
She went under the knife 10 times in 12 days.
Eventually, medics were forced to shut down her immune system and her family were called to her bedside to say goodbye. Her best friend even flew in from Australia to bid a final farewell.
Husband Derek, 36, had to tell the couple’s nine-year-old son, Damian, that Mummy might not come home. And he had to come to terms with the fact that their newborn may face a future without a mother.
But miraculously she survived and now, home after a 10-week stay in hospital, she has to cope with the prospect of a two-year uphill struggle to semi-normality.
“It seems so surreal sitting here talking about it,” she said.
“I mean, I’m so lucky to be here. I almost died.
“For so long, all I wanted was a baby to love. Never in my craziest dreams could I have predicted having one could almost kill me.”
To add to the struggles, while she was in hospital, Pamela’s dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
For Pamela and Derek, who suffered the heartbreak of two miscarriages, having Mirren arrive safely was a blessing.
They couldn’t wait to get home and enjoy those first special snuggles, and even the onset of sleepless nights.
But life had other plans.
With the baby in breech position and a dropping heart rate, Pamela, from Craigbank in Glasgow, had to undergo an emergency caesarean section four weeks before her due date.
The first few days had passed fairly smoothly but then the section wound began to look infected.
Huge, crater-like ulcers started to appear.
It was discovered she was suffering from rare skin condition, pyoderma gangrenosum, which had been lying dormant in her system and only flared up as a result of the trauma wound.
Doctors initially thought it was the flesh-eating bug, necrotising fasciitis.
Layers of Pamela’s skin was cut away to remove the infection. And the distress of repeatedly going under the knife became so much that she was placed in a medically-induced coma. She spent her 33rd birthday under sedation.
It was only later, when an ulcer appeared at the cannula site, that dermatologists realised Pamela had pyoderma and her skin was treatable with steroids, but they had to shut down her immune system to administer them.
At the most critical stage, doctors didn’t think she would make it.
But amazingly the child development worker survived – only to be met with the devastating blow that the lung cancer her father Jim had two years ago was back, and had spread to his kidney and his brain.
“To say it’s been a rollercoaster is an understatement,” she said.
“When I think ‘what if?’ I just burst into tears. I might never have had the chance to welcome my baby – or say goodbye to my dad.”
Pamela now has a gaping inch-deep hole across her entire abdomen. She had to have part of her muscle cut away which has given her a hernia and her bowel is being held in by a temporary mesh.
She relies on a wheelchair and walking stick to get around and a cocktail of pills to keep the pain at bay.
She was only discharged from hospital last week.
But after 10 weeks away from her family, being home is definitely aiding her recovery, both physically and mentally.
“I’m struggling to get my head round it all and deal with the loss of independence, but trying to stay positive for the family. The impact on them has been huge.
“It’s great to be back home, but difficult.
“I feel robbed of my baby. The ability to bond with her was snatched away from me.
“I can’t lift her up or rock her when she cries. I feel worthless.
“But I need to remember that I’ve done the hard bit, and now it’s all about concentrating on making up for lost time with my kids.
“When I hug them, it’s painful – but I don’t want to let go.
“However, even if I could turn back time, I would do it all again for Mirren.
“I feel so lucky to have her – and to be here for her.
“Derek has been mum and dad for Mirren’s first three months and that can’t have been easy.
“I think she’ll definitely be a daddy’s girl!”
However, Pamela’s fight isn’t over, with a long road to recovery ahead.
In January, she’s set to have a double skin graft to reconstruct her abdominal area. And a hernia operation has been scheduled for next September, around the time of Mirren’s first birthday.
“The doctors wanted to do the skin graft just now, but I said I needed to be with the family at Christmas.
“It’s been such a tough year that it’s so important for us to be together.”
With most of the Sinclairs taking time off work to help Pamela and Jim through their ordeals, they decided this year’s celebrations would be small and only token gifts would be exchanged.
But, after Pamela’s kind-hearted cousin swung into action, it looks like the festivities will be in full flow.
While the mum-of-two was in hospital Kimberley Boyce, 27, set up a Go Fund Me page in her honour.
The care worker asked friends and family to make a donation to the family – or send a festive message in a Christmas card to inspire them. She set out to collect £250.
But within days, thousands of pounds had been donated and the cards came flooding in from across the globe. The total currently stands at £2600.
Pamela admits she’s blown away by the response.
“This Christmas is going to be extra-special. And this is the best present we could ask for.
“I can’t thank everyone enough. They have shown such kindness and it really means a lot.
“My family deserve the world this Christmas and now they’ll have it.
“We’re going to use the money to book a log cabin at New Year, make memories, and bring in the bells together with as much positivity as we can muster. And to mark the 33rd birthday I never had.
“When the celebrations are over, my journey will continue, but I’ll be facing it head on – with the biggest smile on my face.”
To donate to the Sinclairs, visit gofundme.com/HelpMakeChristmasBetter
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