Most women forget their labour pains once they're cradling their newborn baby, or certainly by the time they're contemplating a second child. But for mum-to-be Debbie Mills, the pain of childbirth
is never likely to leave her.
She suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
(CRPS), a chronic disease of the autonomic nervous system which causes extreme pain and swelling. There is no cure for the condition, and if sufferers undergo surgery or are injured, they are left in pain in that area for the rest of their lives.
Debbie, 23, from Derbyshire is seven months pregnant with her first baby with partner Dan Hamlett, 23, a rail engineer. She says her unborn baby is a miracle
"When I first found out I was pregnant I was completely shocked as I had always been told it was impossible because of my condition," says Debbie.
"My first thought was whether I would even be able to have the baby and the doctors were not able to tell me anything because they had never seen anyone my age, with CRPS, get pregnant before.
But it never for one moment crossed my mind not to have the baby. As far as I am concerned he is a little miracle and I can't wait to meet him.
Debbie was diagnosed in 2009, when she ended up in excruciating pain after standing up from the sofa and hurting her foot. She had broken her foot twice before and doctors believe this old injury might have been the trigger for her CRPS.
"When they first told me about CRPS, I couldn't believe it was happening to me. I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that my life was now going to consist of constant pain and that there was no cure," says Debbie.
"I had always been so active and I loved agility training with my dogs and I had danced tap, Latin and ballet since the age of five. I can't do any of those things now.
"Then, when they said I wouldn't be able to have children I don't think it really sank in because of everything else they were telling me. I had always imagined I would be a mother some day. I was crushed."
Debbie spent the next three months in a wheelchair and had to teach herself to walk again unaided over the next year.
The couple say their baby was a 'surprise' and are now gearing up for the birth, which could leave her in agony for the rest of her life.
"There's also the chance that I could be paralysed. My mum has started having nightmares about the possible things that could happen and I admit I'm scared too.
I might suffer the pains of labour for years after the birth or maybe forever - no one can tell me. Dan wants to take a month off for paternity leave because we don't know how able I will be to care for the baby myself when it arrives.
"As the pregnancy has gone on I have been suffering more and I can't take any of my medications. Plus I've become a bit more clumsy the bigger I get which is not a good thing at all.
"But I try not to think about. My determination has got me this far and I know it will all be worth it in the end."
What a brave lady. We wish Debbie and Dan all the best with the rest of the pregnancy.
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