“My third child Ashley was born completely healthy on 12 May this year.
"On 4 June, when he was just 3 weeks old, I woke up in the early hours of the morning to him making a strange grunting noise with each breath.
“He often made noises when he slept but there was something different about this one. I touched his chest and noticed it was burning up. It was a very hot, muggy night so I thought initially it was environmental. I took him downstairs and checked his temperature, which was 38.5, so I stripped him down to his nappy.
“I changed his nappy, and tried to breastfeed him. However, he wasn’t rousing enough to feed. I lay with him on the sofa for a little while just listening to his breathing. After 30 minutes of him being in a nappy I rechecked his temperature, but it had gone up to 38.9.
“I phoned 111. The doctor called me back within an hour and advised me to go to A&E. My husband Glen had gone to work. I dropped my older children, Nathaniel (age 6) and Zack (age 4), off at my parents and did as advised.
Seen straight away
“When we arrived we were seen straight away. The nurse checked him over and then said she thought one of her machines was playing up and not reading his heart rate correctly. She said we needed to go to a different room and took us into resus. At this point I felt a bit more panicked. She put the monitor back on and his heart rate was reading at 209 bpm. His temp had gone up to 39.7.
“She asked me about his skin, which I hadn’t looked at properly until now. I had just shone a torch over his body to check for rashes when we were at home as it was dark but I didn’t see any. But I also hadn’t seen how mottled his skin looked. Three doctors came to see us and told me he needed a lumbar puncture and blood tests. I broke down, thinking the worst. Suddenly I felt like a terrible mother; that I should have brought him in sooner.
“I knew if they were doing a lumbar puncture they suspected something more serious than just an innocent fever. I agreed to the procedure and they advised me to wait in another room, as it could be distressing for me to watch. I called my husband to come to hospital and I waited for what felt like the longest half hour of my life. I imagined all sorts of horrible scenarios.
“Then my husband arrived and shortly after the nurse came and got us to go and see Ashley. He was crying. I sat on the trolley and cuddled him and he stopped crying. The doctor told me that Ashley needed to be admitted. They suspected he had sepsis and needed treatment straight away. They gave him some antibiotics and fluids and then moved us to the ward.
“He was kept on a monitor for his heart rate and the nurses checked his temperature every hour. For 24 hours his temperature was between 39.3 and 39.7 despite paracetamol every six hours and his heart rate between 175-224. He didn’t want to be held, or put down. He didn’t want to feed, cried a lot, was miserable and critical.
“After 24 hours his temperature came down to 38.4, and continued to come down. Eventually it got to 37.7 and we decided not to give him any more paracetamol and just see what his body would do. His heart rate was coming down to around 150/160. As he cooled down he started to feed again and his heart rate returned within normal limits.
Able to go home
“After three days the bacterial results from the lumbar puncture were back and were negative. We were able to go home. We were given open access for 48 hours in case his temperature spiked or I had any concerns.
“Just under two weeks later I received a phone call from the doctor to tell me they had the viral results back and he had had viral meningitis, which caused the sepsis. A few weeks later he had a check-up and the doctor was happy he was doing well and officially discharged Ashley. He needs a hearing test when he’s a bit older but everything seems to be normal so we don’t think there are any lasting after-effects. He is now 15 weeks old and a very happy baby.
“Meningitis Now has offered advice and support if I need it, and is sending me leaflets to hand out at my family fun day, which I have organised to help raise awareness of meningitis and sepsis. The profits will be donated to the hospital ward so that they can refurbish the children’s department.
“I am much more aware of the symptoms of meningitis now and I am trying to raise awareness and to tell others that there’s not always a rash and parents need to know the other symptoms associated with meningitis too. Meningitis is known I think by most parents as coming with a rash that doesn’t fade with a glass, and while that is true and I’m sure many cases do present with a rash, it is not always the first symptom, and sometimes it doesn’t appear at all. Parents should know more of the other symptoms in order to encourage them to take action sooner and not wait to seek advice from a medical professional.”