An unmarried mother was shocked when the Poppy Day bomber’s device detonated yards away from her Liverpool Women’s Hospital feeding room.
Helen Edwards-Hughes, 34, a civil servant, was admitted to the Crown Street maternity hospital on November 9, five days before Emad Al-Swealmeen, 32, tried to bomb it.
Helen looked at Penelope her newborn and thought, “Someone tried to take your away.”
Helen Edwards Hughes, 34 (right), has come to terms with her trauma and is now sharing her profound gratitude for the Liverpool Women’s Hospital team
Five days after Emad Al Swealmeen (32), attempted to bomb the Crown Street hospital, Aigburth, a civil servant, was admitted at Crown Street Maternity Hospital.
After reporting that Helen was experiencing cramping and bleeding, her husband James Hughes (33) took Helen to the hospital.
A Caesarean section was decided by doctors at the beginning of November.
After a few minutes with her mother and father, Penelope was taken away to begin treatment for suspected meningitis.
Helen told the Liverpool Echo: ‘I was scared beyond my wildest dreams quite honestly. The covid visiting restrictions for partners made it more difficult.
“When the accident happened, I was alone in the hospital. Although I was at the front, I could not see the entrance because I was still recovering from my caesarean.
I think Penelope was being fed when it sounded. Although I was thinking “oh, that sounds loud”, it’s really not far from my home so it didn’t bother me too much.
After reporting that Helen was experiencing cramping and bleeding, her husband James Hughes (right), took Helen to the hospital.
A Caesarean section was performed by doctors in the morning of November 10, 2010.
“But then it started to go around. Someone’s partner had been at front entry and seen the car.
“Then it was all kinds of stuff. It began to spread that terrorist acts were being applied. The presence of so many police officers was quite reassuring.
“But I suffer from severe anxiety, and terrorist attacks are my main trigger, which really put me on the edge.
“Whenever I witness something like that, the bombing in Manchester or attacks on Europe, it’s very difficult for me to get off the computer. The terrorist who attacked the hospital were outside and my little girl was trapped. I just can’t go.
It was hard for Penelope to see and feel that someone had tried to take her from her.
Penelope was released from hospital to receive treatment for her suspected meningitis.
Al-Swealmeen, according to Counter Terrorism Police was killed by the bomb that he had made at home.
Helen became overwhelmed by stress and anxiety over the next few days.
“On Tuesday (16 November), I was in a little bit of an emotional meltdown,” she said. The thought of leaving was so overwhelming that I couldn’t believe it.
“Just horrible, terrible fear. Then you start to wonder if the other one is available, or if they can finish this job.
“It was awful, I couldn’t go to the front door for fresh, clean air, and the infant was not eating.”
Helen said that it was in this setting that the midwives from her ward came into their own.
Helen was asked how staff were handling the attack. She replied: “You wouldn’t know what had happened. They were incredible.”
Helen shared her story with the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Board in a message. She described how midwives from her unit were calm and supportive, which helped her to overcome her depression.
“A combination hormones, all the physical and mental events that were going on in the parking lot caused me to fall apart,” she said.
I couldn’t be happier with Matbase’s staff.
“I was able to see their busy lives and could tell they felt the pressure. But they organized for me to receive the help I needed. They moved me into an adjoining room in no time.
“I do not know her surname but believe that the midwife who was assigned to me on that particular day was Emma. She was brilliant.
“I felt better after I was in the side ward, as it enabled me to think more clearly.
Helen looked at Penelope, her baby girl, and said “someone tried to take your place”
“It’s also difficult to feel alone when I’m surrounded with people. After spending almost a week in a hospital ward, it was time for me to go home.
“I believe it allowed me to deal with what happened, without the distraction of other people’s noises causing more anxiety.
“The purpose of the communication is to tell you how happy I am that Liverpool Women’s was chosen for my maternity care.”
Penny, Penelope’s mother, was discharged from the hospital on November 20, 2018.
Helen was referred by the perinatal psychological health team and has since been granted counselling.
She wrote to the hospital board, “Liverpool Women’s made sure that my child did not leave the hospital until she was ready and also provided the best care for me during our time together.”
“I am shocked at the attack on your hospital. I’m glad that nobody else was hurt.”
“We will all process it differently, and some people may be more affected than others.”
Ironically, her encounter with an actual terrorist incident has decreased her anxiety and she doesn’t worry about the possibility that she might be involved in atrocities.
“I have a feeling of wanting to do the best I can and not being afraid.”
Helen and James now plan to raise money to support the hospital. James is a keen player who plans to host sponsored events through his Twitch streaming channel, where he’s known under the name ‘Supereffective Jay.
The hospital managements have prepared a Major Incident Report that outlines how the staff was supported following the bombing.
Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust provided psychologists and counsellors on-site. Additionally, staff were signposted for organizations dealing with terror trauma such as Peace Foundation.