A PARKGATE mum has been recognised for her bravery after suffering a rehabilitating stroke two weeks following the birth of her daughter.

Angharad Pulford, 39, gave birth to her daughter Aoife in June 2015 after a straightforward pregnancy but two weeks later things changed drastically when she felt a sharp pain in her head while feeding the baby.

The next morning when she was preparing breakfast for her eldest daughter Niamh, Angharad collapsed.

Her husband Martin called an ambulance and Angharad was taken to Arrowe Park Hospital where, after multiple scans, doctors discovered that she had suffered a stroke caused by a right carotid artery dissection - the separation of the layers of the artery wall.

Angharad told the Globe: “My stroke was believed to be birth related as there were no other pre-disposing factors.

"Bang and my world changed. I could barely hold my baby, let alone do anything for her.

“I spent nine days on the stroke unit, and the therapists would help me to use a doll to practice dressing and changing nappies.

"We also made up milk bottles and played games to encourage dexterity. Simple tasks had suddenly become so difficult.

"My parents were also by my side the whole way through and brought Aoife in every day to ensure I could bond with her.”

Angharad was then transferred to a stroke rehabilitation unit where she practised standing up and then attempted a few steps.

She had to re-learn how to climb stairs too but ultimately, Angharad was wheelchair dependant.

Angharad said: “I was allowed home for weekend leave which was lovely but I wasn’t really prepared for how overwhelming this would be.

"Going back to the rehab unit after a weekend at home was the hardest thing.

"While the staff and physiotherapists were brilliant, my overwhelming feeling was that I was being robbed of my little girls and I grieved for the life I knew.

"When I held Aoife, my heart was broken as this wasn’t how it was meant to be.

"I worried for the future and how I was ever going to look after her.”

Angharad was discharged from hospital with support from the Early Supported Discharge Team and once home she went from strength to strength.

During her time on the stroke unit she had been introduced to the Stroke Association and the team helped her to get back to her life after stroke once she had returned home.

She added: “I can honestly say my Stroke Association coordinator Jane became a rock during an awful time.

"I’m now in such a better place now emotionally and physically.

"My little girls are growing up and I love them both with all my heart, I’m lucky to have them and hope they won’t remember too much about when Mummy was poorly.

"Having being taken to the ‘edge’, you truly learn to value family and friends, and I cannot fault the love and support I was shown.

"I’ve been fortunate to come out the other side of it.”

Angharad's husband Martin nominated her for the Life After Stroke Award, he said: “I always believed in Angharad’s ability to get herself back on her feet, but when I look at her now with our two beautiful daughters, it really is difficult not to be amazed by what she has achieved.”

On Thursday, January 31, Angharad found she had been awarded with a Highly Commended certificate at a celebratory event at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.

Chris Larkin, director for the Stroke Association in the North said: “A stroke happens in an instant and often changes lives forever. We were thrilled that so many local people across the North West were nominated to receive a Life After Stroke Award.

"Our regional event highlights the tremendous courage people like Angharad have shown in rebuilding their lives after a stroke, or in helping others to do the same.”

For more information on the Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Awards visit www.stroke.org.uk/LASA