I have just found out about this site and am hoping that it will help me deal with the many emotions I am trying to deal with after my daughter contracted GBS meningitis. I have a lot guilt in not being able to stay with her while she had blood work done and the one who gave her GBS meningitis. I hope to be able to move through the grieving processby sharing and reading all of your stories. Thank you and here is our journey with meningitis.
It was the happiest day of my life. The one thing that I wanted most out of life and the one thing I had always wanted to be happened on December 11th, 2005...I became a mom!! Avery was a healthy 7lbs 2 oz and 20 inches long baby girl. Born within my 40th week of pregnancy. It was a text book labour and delivery. However, my happiness soon became frustration, fear and worry. My daughter had stopped nursing and eating anything for that matter. The nurses tried cup feeding, syringe, and SNS because initially they thought she needed "suck training". I had to call my mom. I needed her help. On the second day after her birth my almost 2 day old baby was wrenching her head back and locking it in place. Her once noodley body was stiff and clenched. Her eyes were rolling back in her head. I called the nurse, "I think she´s having a seizure!" Her response and many others that I received were, "she´s rooting for the breast". "She´s stretching from being in the womb". My husband arrived back to the hospital after writing his final exam at school. He requested for a nurse to take Avery´s vitals again even though they had just been taken only 45 minutes earlier. Our intuition was right. She had a fever of 38.5. The nurse said, "I need to call the doctor". Thank God that they had kept us in the hospital for another day because she wasn´t eating. I don´t know what we would´ve done if we had been sent home.
My doctor arrived and said no questions asked we were going to be transferred from Cobourg to Peterborough to the NICU. We would be rooming in with her because I was breastfeeding and transferred babies cannot go into the nursery. Within the half hour they had made room for us in Peterborough and the ambulance had arrived. My husband had to go with my parents and I rode in the ambulance. It was the longest half hour drive of my life.
When we arrived to the hospital, I had to stay downstairs and register Avery. She went upstairs alone and I pleaded with the nurse to go with her. My husband and parents arrived shortly and went upstairs with her. I didn´t want her to be alone. Within 48 hours and 5 minutes of her birth she was hooked up to IV antibiotics. I sat by her side and they tried and tried to find a site it the new little veins in her hands, but they just blew out. The IV was placed in her ankle and we kept our fingers crossed that it would not have to be changed. They took more blood work and placed her limb little body in an isolette. The lights in the room had to be shut off and all there was was this night light over her. Her tiny ribs protruded from her body because she was so dehydrated. She was yellow from being jaundice. The stats monitor would keep alarming because it had a hard time detecting her vitals even though they were doing OK. They told us not watch the monitors but it was impossible. I sat up all night just watching them and watching her and praying that she would make it through the night. At this point they didn´t know what was wrong because no results were back. The paediatrician told us that in the morning she would have a spinal tap. My parents began to sob. My brother at 8 years old was in Peterborough with meningitis as well. They did not want their first grandchild to go through that.
That morning shortly after 8:30, the paediatrician came and took Avery in the room next door. We were not allowed in due to the procedure. I sat there listening to her crying as they curled her into a little ball and did the spinal tap. I only got to hold her briefly and then she was placed back into the isolette. I was only allowed to take her out to nurse her. The paediatrician told us that the fluid came out and was cloudy. I lost all feeling in my body and my mind went blank. Avery had Group B Strep meningitis. She contracted it from me at birth as my GBS swab was a false negative. I was instantly overcome with guilt. I made her this way. We were then told that the next 72 hours were critical. She had the shakes from encephalitis. Her little body would just jump and jitter. It ripped my heart out to see her like this. The paediatrician said that she would need to be on antibiotics for 14 days. My mom started to ask, "so we will be here for Christ...?" And I cut her off pleading for her to stop counting the days. I wasn´t ready to accept that we would be spending Avery´s first Christmas in the NICU. We were not supposed to be here. We were supposed to be home.
Avery immediately responded to the antibiotics. A lactation consultant came to see us in the morning and Avery latched on and ate with vigour. After 5 days of antibiotics she was acting like a newborn. Keeping us up at night and eating and dirtying diapers. She did develop a rapid heart rate however. We had an ECG that showed very little so we were scheduled for an ECHO. This would be our first trip out of the hospital. I was terrified. She also underwent a brain ultrasound to check for fluid. All the test came back great. Things were turning around. We started calling her Xena the Warrior Princess. We slept together in the hospital bed and my husband slept on a fold out chair. She was gaining weight and getting chubby. Miraculously her IV site held for 10 days and on the 11th day it had to be switched to her other ankle. But for the short time it was out, we got hold her and walk around with her just like a healthy baby. We were hoping the IV would last for the next 3 days so it wouldn´t have to go in her head. And it did.
Christmas was a difficult day. Avery was the beginning of Christmas being a good thing for my husband who tragically lost his mother Christmas Eve 13 years earlier to cancer. The nurses were great. They gave her presents and really tried to make it the best they could for us.
On December 27th, we went home. As we were walking out of the hospital I was waiting for someone to stop us. We celebrated Christmas that day and probably always will from now on. That will always be a special day for us. My family was there everyday. It was a 40 minute drive one way and they were always there for us. My husbands father and sister even came out from New Brunswick.
Today, Avery is a healthy 7 month old weighing almost 18lbs and 27 inches long. You would never guess in a million years that her first days of life were all she almost had.