Like all expectant parents, I started the journey with worry. I worried if I would miscarry, I worried if my baby would be born with a defect, I worried if something bad would show up on my 20 week scan, I worried if the labour would be awful. You name it, I can guarantee I worried about it!
However. One thing I didn’t worry about was Group B Strep. I mean to be honest, if you had mentioned this to me whilst pregnant, I would’ve stared at you blankly as I had absolutely no idea such thing existed. There are no routine tests, no information, not even a mention of the words Group B Strep in a routine antenatal appointment, so why should I have known?
Oh how I wish I’d of known. I felt I had prepared myself with endless information about all kinds of problems, and I felt as though I knew enough so that if I did stumble across a problem, I would at least have known what was being spoken about.
So, when our baby (now 2 years old) came in November 2013, as beautiful and perfect as we had hoped and dreamed he would. We were beside ourselves with happiness, I think every new parent feels that overwhelming relief that their baby has come just as they’d hoped, the pride and joy you feel is just beyond any explanation.
Fast forward 2 weeks. Our nightmares were becoming apparent. Something was not right with our beautiful,tiny baby boy. He had woken me up at 6am for his usual feed, the only problem was, he would not take the bottle, maybe he just had wind? Maybe he wasn’t hungry and just needed a cuddle? I tried everything. My usual settled and content baby, was extremely distressed, he wouldn’t feed, he wouldn’t sleep, he just wouldn’t do anything. I even called for my mother in law to come over as by this point (around 12pm) I was at breaking point, I was all out of ideas, what was making my baby so distressed? I had checked his temperature and it seemed fine (however looking back now I feel this thermometer was inaccurate). My mother in law came, and we had both come to the conclusion that we thought he just had trapped wind and was a bit colicky. I had managed to get about 2oz’s of formula in him by this point, and my mother in law had managed to get him to sleep. Something did still not sit right with me, I really had a bad feeling, and this is when I decided enough was enough and phoned for an emergency doctors appointment.
As we sat waiting in the doctors surgery, Finlay had settled from the car journey, so was quite peaceful, and I began to wonder if I was just over reacting? Baring in mind our little one had still only drank 2oz in about 6 hours. As we sat down in the doctors office, I had explained all of the problems, to which the doctor didn’t say much, he then checked his temperature… 38.9!!!! This is when alarm bells started, and the panic set in, our baby boy was really quite unwell. The doctor phoned the hospital immediately and we were told to head there straight away. I honestly cannot explain to you what that car journey was like, the worry, the fear, the scenarios you play in your head. It was just so terrifying.
We had got ourselves into the children’s ward at the hospital and whilst waiting to see a paediatrician, we were asked to get a urine sample from Fin. This sounded much easier than it was. Why do little boys choose to piddle on you every other time but the actual time you need them to? We didn’t manage to get one, and by this point the paediatrician had come and explained to us that they would take some blood tests to try and establish whether Fin had an infection or not. My poor baby was prodded so many times, seeing them in pain is just so heart wrenching. A few hours later the paediatrician had returned. “I’m afraid Finlay has got some sort of infection going on, we will need to run some more tests, and he will need to be started on IV antibiotics straight away”. My heart sank. What was wrong? Was he going to be ok?
Over the course of the next few days Finlay underwent, more blood tests, injections, a lumber puncture, and a brain scan (he had began to have small seizures). It was the most terrifying experience for my entire family. The only thing I can be thankful about was that Finlay would be too young to remember any of it.
Eventually the diagnosis came.. Septicaemia caused by a bacterial infection called Group B Strep. We were told we had caught it extremely early, and had we left it longer, we could’ve been looking at meningitis. We had been very lucky in the grand scheme of things, Finlay continued on antibiotics and was released from hospital 8 days later and just a few days before Christmas.
Would this have happened if I’d have known or been checked for GBS. To be honest i’m not sure. However I really do feel that if I had been checked and it had came up, precautions would’ve been put in place to try to prevent it. I cannot stress how important I feel it is to do the research on this, to make yourself aware of the symptoms in a baby. GBS will cause no symptoms in the mother and is completely harmless to her, but it can be life threatening to the baby. We were so so lucky. Many babies are not, it can leave them with brain damage, and future difficulties, in some cases even cause death.
I really wanted to write a post to create some awareness of this awful infection, as we were personally affected by it. I really hope that one day some checks come in place to try and prevent this happening. Please click the link below for more information and the signs and symptoms from the Group B Strep Support website!
I am so thankful that my Finlay is now a happy and healthy 2 year old!