After welcoming a baby girl, Beth Law, 40, was given shocking news
***WARNING*** Graphic scar images below
As I held my swollen tummy, I couldn't believe we were so close to welcoming our baby.
'I can't wait to meet our new arrival!' my husband Chris, then 40, beamed.
We were so thrilled to be having our first bub together.
When we'd met at a bar a year earlier, we just clicked.
Chris was incredibly handsome and a real character too.
He'd smiled at me that very first night we'd met and declared, 'I'm going to marry you one day.'
I could only laugh.
Still, it turned out Chris predicted our future from day one.
After dating for three months, he moved in, then surprised me by getting down on one knee and proposing.
'Yes!' I replied happily.
Chris was already a dad to Mark, 11, from a previous relationship and I had a son too, Louis, 14.
We weren't planning on adding to our brood, but then I fell pregnant unexpectedly and we were thrilled.
Three months later, Chris and I were married and headed overseas for our honeymoon.
Then, six months after that, with my belly in full bloom, the time had come...
The doctor explained there were complications
My waters broke while I was at home.
Chris quickly rushed me to hospital.
There though, I was in for a shock.
The doctor explained there were complications and I'd need a caesarean.
After being rushed into theatre, the world turned black.
Hours later I woke to see Chris standing by my bedside with a tiny newborn in his arms. It was our daughter - Katie.
But I couldn't remember her being born at 3am, weighing in at a healthy 3.4 kilos.
What was going on?
It turned out I'd suffered an internal tear and had started bleeding heavily during the birth.
Doctors needed to operate on me for another four hours after Katie was born.
Seeing our girl for the first time, I felt so disorientated.
Was that my daughter?
But gradually, taking in the cards and gifts that decorated my room, I realised the wonderful truth.
I was a mum again and this was the start of a new chapter of our lives.
But the next day, still in hospital, I was overcome with crippling pain.
I couldn't lift Katie out of her cot and Chris had to carry me to the toilet.
At first, I put it down to the caesarean.
But then my stomach started to swell.
In the days that followed, things got worse.
I was given drugs to ease the pain, but I began to hallucinate.
At one point I thought I saw Yoda - a small green character from Star Wars- in the room.
It was very distressing.
With my condition quickly deteriorating, five days later, I was taken back into theatre.
The last thing I remember is the worried voices of my mum Rita, 68, dad Graham, 69, and sister Lisa, 42.
'Why does she have to be put to sleep?' someone asked.
Then, once again, the world went dark.
It was only afterwards I learnt that I spent the following three weeks in a coma.
Chris was told that my ovaries had become affected by gangrene and, despite undergoing three operations, the infection was so serious he was warned I might not make it.
It had been touch and go. Finally though, my eyes fluttered open.
I'd survived, but there was a shock to come...
'We tried our best but the infection was too severe,' the doctor said gently.
'I'm afraid we had to remove your ovaries and perform a hysterectomy.'
I was only in my mid-30s, still so young.
It was all too much to bear.
'You mean, I have no womb?' I stammered, tears streaming down my cheeks.
The doctor nodded, and explained it meant I would go through early menopause.
He was right.
Just days later I started experiencing headaches and hot flushes.
It was devastating, and when I looked at the scar from my operation, I felt even worse.
There was a big hole where my bellybutton used to be.
I felt like I'd come into hospital an expectant mother, and had somehow, suddenly, lost my femininity.
It felt like my body was ruined.
Even when I was finally allowed to go home later, I really struggled.
I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which put the whole family under a lot of strain.
It has taken a lot of time and treatment, but gradually I've started to come to terms with what happened.
Somehow Chris and I managed to battle on together.
But we definitely couldn't have done it without the financial and emotional support from our parents, close family and the tight circle of friends we're so lucky to have.
While my memory and concentration still aren't what they used to be because of the time I spent in a coma, I'm not going to let it stop me from being the best possible mother to my kids.
They need me, and being here to care for them is the greatest gift imaginable.
Originally published in that's life! issue 11, 2015