Unfortunately, I was unaware that I carried the Group B Strep bacteria and Emily contracted GBS infection upon delivery, resulting in overwhelming sepsis which began to attack her tiny organs. Within 3 hours of her birth she was grunting and showing signs of distress. The midwives recognised that things were not right and took her to SCBU, where fortunately for us the paediatrician on call that day suspected that Emily may have GBS infection and began to administer antibiotics. Emily’s condition quickly deterioriated and we were told that she must be transferred from Colchester to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge where there was a NICU. Unfortunately, Emily proved very difficult to intubate due to an anterior trachea, and it took a team of paediatricians and anaesthetists 3 hours to eventually get her onto a ventilator, before the Acute Neonatal Transfer Service (ANTS) team could transport her to Addenbrookes. A very distressing time for my husband, Steve and I to endure.
Upon arrival at Addenbrookes we had the nightmare scenario of being taken into the family room and warned about how poorly our baby was and that there was a risk that she may not survive. She had seizures and had begun to exhibit signs of brain damage by lip-smacking and clenching her fists. She had a lumbur puncture to look for signs of meningitis, blood transfusions and numerous painful canula insertions. We were distraught. Our little family had been torn apart – we had to leave our, then 3 and a half year old, son with grandparents while we stayed at Addenbrookes to be with Emily. Instead of celebrating the birth of our daughter we were questioning whether she would survive and, if she did, what disabilities she may have. I distinctly remember thinking “How do I arrange a funeral for a baby?”.
Fortunately, Emily is a fighter. Worryingly, in view of the aformentioned difficult intubation, she self-extubated a couple of days later(!) but, luckily, was strong enough to go onto CPAP. I was expressing breast milk which was being fed to her through a nasal-gastric tube and slowly, after 6 days or so in NICU she was strong enough to go back to SCBU in Colchester.
She did not, as initially suspected, incur any lasting brain damage, although she was diagnosed with an ASD (hole in her heart), which was monitored and closed on it’s own. She does also have a leaky valve which is continuing to be monitored by the Brompton Hospital and not causing her any problems – we would not even be aware of these heart issues were it not for the barrage of tests she had to endure after the complications of GBS and sepsis.
Unfortunately, just as she had recovered from the traumatic events described above, at 7 weeks old, Emily also contracted bronchiolitis severe enough to require a second trip to PICU, this time at Gt Ormond St Hospital in London. She was intubated again at Colchester, which they did very early on in view of the difficult intubation first time round and then transferred by the Childrens Ambulance Transfer Service (CATS) to GOSH under blue lights and sirens. Again, Emily fought back and after a 2 week stay we were discharged the night before Christmas Eve.
And now? Emily is a feisty, thriving, tall 4 year old with no obvious signs of how poorly she was.
Luckily for us the paediatricians started treating Emily’s GBS infection and sepsis with the right antibiotics and at the right time…