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Downton Abbey drama 'all too real' for Justine
DOWNTON Abbey is gripping the nation’s TV viewers on Sunday nights ... and there was a shock in the last episode when Lady Sybil died from eclampsia shortly after giving birth to a healthy baby girl.
The drama was frighteningly lifelike for Taunton’s Justine Baker, rekindling memories of her two pregnancies when she had pre-eclampsia.
Justine, whose children, Iris, eight, and Harrison, four, suffered no effects, has praised the makers of Downton Abbey for increasing awareness.
She said: “When I was 30 weeks pregnant with Iris, I was at the cinema and afterwards could hardly walk because my ankles and feet had swollen to twice their normal size.
“I went to Musgrove Park Hospital and stayed there until after the birth. My blood pressure was really high and there was protein in my urine, just like Lady Sybil.
“They started inducing me 5½ weeks premature but I started fitting when I was pushing so they did an emergency C-section.
“I was close to a fatal stroke so they rushed me to theatre and pumped me full of blood pressure drugs.”
Justine, of Staplegrove Road, a LibDem district councillor, suffered pre-eclampsia from the third month of her second pregnancy.
She was again admitted to Musgrove, where Harrison was born naturally 4½ weeks early.
“The symptoms were worse second time and my body hasn’t fully recovered,” said Justine.
“I’m on and off blood pressure tablets, I get unbearable headaches and get exhausted.”
Justine, who is adopted, traced her birth mother and discovered she also had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.
“It’s dangerous because the only way to stop it is to have the baby,” said Justine. “It can develop into eclampsia up to seven days after giving birth, when your body reacts and you start fitting.
“It’s more common than you’d think and I say ‘Well done, Julian Fellowes’ for raising awareness.”