Rebecca and her partner had a very long, happy relationship. She ran REK photography and Karma Camping planning to expand these ventures when they moved home. She loved food, family, friends and festivals, especially Glastonbury and had a natural sense of colour, dress and an endearing sense of humour.
Rebecca had a long journey to conceive a baby and had suffered miscarriages previously, so was over the moon to fall pregnant with her baby in 2016. She had a trouble free pregnancy but suffered a long and difficult labour and traumatic birth. The natural labour she so wanted was shattered when her baby became stuck, culminating in copious medication, an epidural, a near missed Caesarean section, and a failed forceps, eventually baby being born by Ventouse.
One wonders WHY though the first mention that’ the baby’s stuck, I can’t push him out’, came from Rebecca?
Bless him, having been dragged into this world, baby looked like he’d been in a car crash, despite this he appeared healthy and home in 2 days with mum and dad.
The birth trauma significantly affected Rebecca, recording both she and baby as traumatised, baby neither sleeping, feeding or latching properly. This didn’t stop her and Dad proudly taking on Lidls 4 days after birth, when unsurprisingly she almost fainted.
WHY wasn’t she counselled and advised against this, before discharge?
So, relaxing in the coming weeks was difficult and this meant her start in motherhood was more exhausting and stressful than most, compounded as baby had an undiagnosed tongue tie, causing feeding and gastric problems. This went uncorrected until he was over 4 months old, consequently, he slept little and screamed a lot in distress. During this time Becky became frazzled from coping with a fractious baby making her feel like she wasn’t a good mother as she couldn’t soothe or feed her baby properly, and was being treated like a nuisance by the professionals she sought help from. She then began to dread asking for their advice.
This was untrue because Rebecca was a fabulous mother. Since the day baby’s problems surfaced, she did everything in her means to find complementary medications and treatment to help baby, always wanting the most natural route, yet willing to do what was necessary like any good mother. Despite professional opinion to the contrary, once his tongue tie was eventually confirmed by a breastfeeding specialist after a long wait, they hastily arranged for a private ‘correction’, the next day. This was 4 months after it was first raised! Relieved though, although some gastric issues remained, baby now began to thrive, but by this time the damage was done. Unfortunately the added stress and anxiety caused to Rebecca, had built up and it was now herself who was unwell. She developed gathering symptoms of ill mental health over the next few months driven by lack of sleep which developed into insomnia.
If this tongue tie had been corrected soon after birth, Rebecca would not have developed these conditions and would still be with us.
So WHY wasn’t it?
So many ‘If’s’.
As if the failings in baby’s care weren’t bad enough she now found herself battling for medical support and treatment.
It was at this point that despite Rebecca’s requests for continued help, her Health Visitor discharged her because PND was the G.P.’s responsibility not hers. She was abandoned.
The G.P. continued prescribing, but Rebecca felt collectively patronised and abandoned by those conducting her post natal care and was dismissed into the self-help system. Even now she was voicing worries about the medication making her too drowsy to be safe with baby.
Again she sought multiple forms of help and in desperation resorted to: CBT recommended by her G.P.,and a range of holistic therapies and remedies.
The Coup de Grace came with a highly recommended private psychiatrist, principal in Rebecca’s care when she took her life.
*WHY did she have to resort to private psychiatric treatment and alternative medicines?
Her mental health deteriorated very quickly and the health visitor, GP and other professionals who were meant to support her and coordinate her care failed to do so, even *failing to inform members of her family that she was expressing suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Although as a family we were all there for her, helping on a daily basis, the professionals involved never shared what they were privy to and we weren’t, never warned any of any of us to the extent of her mental distress, and the growing risks of this and the medications. Worse, they never shared it with each other or spotted the danger signs. Worse than all of this, we misplaced our trust in them, believing that she was in the best hands, but in her last two weeks alarm bells rang loudly as the effects of the new medication took hold and she was clearly worsening.
Rebecca often said she needed ‘respite’ but all that was available was in ‘Mother and Baby (psychiatric) Units’, but her fears were that these were then out of the county, and usually meant separation from baby, Dad and her family, should the option arise of self admission/sectioning into a psychiatric ward to fast track her to an MBU. She, as we now understand, realised that she was developing a form of Post Partum Psychosis.
Why weren’t her concerns about this taken seriously ? This left her so confused that she withdrew from CBT, becoming more desperate.
Why wasn’t this disengagement and other contradictory behaviours recognised as symptoms or acted upon as they should have been?
She began to feel afraid and ashamed, and turned to this private psychiatrist, who Mum attended with her. She was prescribed Mirtazapine and when this made all of her symptoms and fears worse, despite her desperate complaints Zopolicone was added, compounding them.
She deteriorated further and begged the psychiatrist to stop or reduce the dosage of this ‘Black Box Medication’. Incredibly she was dismissed and humiliated, being told her side affects were imaginary, and the dosage increased. She was scared of the risks to both her and baby, yet no safeguards were ever made to protect them. She tormented herself for what could then be causing these symptoms which she had been advised weren’t because of the medication. She could only conclude that she must be to blame and was going mad. We later discovered that the cries for help she now made were ignored, and are too painful and private to share. She and her mother were due at her next appointment a couple of hours after she was lost to our world.
Rebecca couldn’t face that appointment with the psychiatrist.
Afraid for her precious baby on 14th of June 2017, she took her life whilst at her mother’s home as she knew baby would be safe there. This was exactly 2 weeks after the medication began and a text book case of the ‘precipitated suicide’ described in the Mirtazapine leaflet, which directs immediate and supervised withdrawal from it, should the symptoms develop that she had. Instead of this, hers were ignored and the medication increased. The adverse reaction she had to it had magnified to a fatal extent. Our treasured Rebecca was driven to this. Finding her that day came as a catastrophic shock to the family and shattered our world as the loyal, compassionate and caring Matriarch, Mother, Daughter, Partner and Sister was gone. No goodbyes. It desolated baby, his Dad, our close knit family and her community of friends, leaving us with so many unanswered questions.
This is where our journey started. With the knowledge that the ‘urgent’ CAMHS referral letter had taken 8 days to arrive, from the CB Therapist, by post, at her G.P. practice, on the day she gave up her life.
Is this an URGENT responsible action?
If only they had listened to her. If only we had. Instead we trusted in the wrong people who didn’t have the capability to understand what mothers and their babies need: To be listened to, their instincts to be taken seriously and to feel safe, and, obviously have access to the benefits of the best clinical care not the worst.
If you listen to our anthem: ’Everglow’ (by Coldplay), you will understand better.
Multiple professionals seemed unacquainted with the guidelines they should have followed.
*Why? They missed the signs of her deteriorating mental state and failed to liaise or to inform us her family, of the many risks, and when she became a risk to herself, these were fatally misjudged. Incorrect and inadequate actions were taken to support her whilst on medications, and the urgency in providing the correct help and support failed.
If it can happen to Rebecca with no mental health history, it can happen to anyone. It would be wrong to let her loss be in vain especially when it can so easily be rectified with some T.L.C., common sense and effort.
There were a catalogue of failings in the NHS and private sector that led to Rebecca’s suicide that continue to this day, which must be corrected. Everglow the Rebecca Kruza Foundation Campaign was created to ensure that no other women are left to suffer like this, and to protect their babies, the fathers, siblings and families from what we have been through. To prevent the development and escalation of maternal/perinatal ill mental health, we aim to raise the standards of and services for maternal/perinatal care for women, during what is the most physiologically and emotionally sensitive time in a woman’s life, yet we have found this is not being respected.
Our evidence is being ignored, communications blocked, and efforts to collaborate with the authorities and professionals, sabotaged.
Based on the principle of Tender Loving Care, these improvements in Perinatal Care: throughout pregnancy, birth, and the post natal year for mother and baby, from the evidence we have so far will include:
More frequent and extended face to face Midwife and Health Visitor checks.
Access to early domestic support when Mums struggle to cope, as a means to assist and liaise with professionals.
Most crucially to reinstate Respite Homes where Mums and their Babies can have the rest, time out and therapeutic treatment they need to recuperate, feel safe and cared for.
Cultural Research will be invaluable to enhance nationwide improvements needed from the bottom up in our continually failing services.
Until the government and their agencies accepts accountability and the need for these vital improvements, and approves and provides the funding for these we will however never be allowed to succeed.
We are crying out to Mums, Dads, their families, and maternity professionals to ask you to lend your support with your knowledge, experiences and time, to give us the impetus to help in making East Kent Maternity Services a model of excellence, without further procrastination.
Please browse our Everglow page for bulletins with information about the facts and progress of our campaign.