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Ava B's story

16th November 2016

Leanne knew her newborn baby daughter Ava was not right, but doctor after doctor didn’t listen to her maternal instinct or connect Ava’s high-pitched screams and high temperatures with her mother’s Strep B during pregnancy

Ava B's story

Eventually Ava’s temperature spiked and she was rushed to hospital, where she finally received the treatment she so desperately needed. Leanne, from Kidderminster in Worcestershire, recounts their story here.

“When I fell pregnant with my second daughter, the first urine test taken by my midwife showed that I had Strep B meningitis. I didn’t have this with my first daughter, so I was very concerned. The doctor put me on a course of antibiotics and I suffered a lot of bleeds and because I have rhesus negative blood I had to go to hospital a lot.

“I always asked different doctors and midwives about Strep B and they told me not to worry; I just needed antibiotics as soon as my waters went or I was in established labour.

“I was induced with my daughter and they only managed to give me one hour of antibiotics. I laboured very quickly once given antibiotics and they monitored my baby daughter for 12 hours afterwards for Strep B. She was born on the 13th of August and we soon went away with our bundle of joy.

“On 26 August, I felt my daughter wasn't well, she just wasn't right. I took her to the doctors and he checked her over. He made me feel like an over paranoid mother.

“That evening Ava woke at 12am and didn't stop high-pitched screaming. I tried everything, walking with her, rocking her. At 4am, we took her temperature and it was 38c. My husband, Martin, and I rang my mother, worrying, and she came straight down. My mother in law also rushed round and she too felt Ava wasn't well. We rang 111.

“The doctors said we could give her Calpol and an hour later she seemed to settle. I took her to primary care at 11am to get her checked, and all was okay. The doctor was happy with the checks and said to come back if I was worried.

The screaming started again

“Over the next few days Ava didn’t seem well. I rang the surgery and asked for another appointment. That week I went on Wednesday and Thursday but the doctors both put it down to colic. On the Thursday Ava was screaming in front of the doctor. She changed her milk like I asked.

“That evening the screaming started again, high pitched all through the evening and night. At 2am I rang my mother again. My husband rang primary care and said no one is listening to us. We went down and Ava was seen again at primary care. The doctor put it down to reflux.

“We went away again and Ava settled for a few days. The Wednesday evening (7 September) the high pitched screaming started again and I couldn't do anything to stop her crying. It was clear to see how much pain she was in. I rang my mother again, she came at 12 and we rang primary care. The doctors were out on visits but they said we could take her to Redditch.

“I was desperate. I knew something was wrong but just didn't know what. Mum and I took her to Redditch at 2am while my husband stayed with our other daughter, Olivia. The doctor saw us straight away and he felt it was something to do with the Strep B. He wanted us to be seen by our local hospital, Worcester Hospital, and said he could arrange an ambulance to take us in.

“He told us to go to the waiting room while he rang the children's ward. Finally we felt someone was listening to us and would make our baby better. The doctor called us back in and said that Worcester didn't want to see her as her temperature was 37.8 and not 38. I told him it was that a week ago, and that I had seen six doctors in the last week or so. He rang them again in front of us but they didn't budge, they just gave us a number to ring if her temperature went up.

“We went away so upset. I had to sleep holding Ava again to help her to sleep. The next morning she was screaming in a high pitched way again. We went to my doctors at 11am and Ava screamed non-stop in the waiting room and in the doctor’s room. I told him the doctor in the night felt it was something to do with the Strep B. He wasn't happy that Worcester wouldn't see her. He did all the checks and showed us how to check her soft spot. He felt she had thrush, so gave us thrush drops and told us to ring Worcester if she got worse.

I wish someone would listen

“I walked out of the doctors crying. I said to my mom, there is something wrong with her; I just wish someone would listen. We went home and Ava slept all afternoon; she was very sleepy. My mom woke her up and checked her temperature and it had gone up to 38.7! I quickly rang the hospital and cried and begged,’ please see my daughter, please, please help me. She's so poorly, her temperature is 38.7.’

“They told me to bring her straight in or ring an ambulance. My mum didn't want to waste any time so we got straight in the car. My husband rushed back. Luckily my mother in law had my other daughter; she had helped all week with Olivia as Ava had been so poorly.

“The journey to the hospital felt like it took a lifetime, although it was only about 30 minutes. Ava was getting worse. When we got there she was grey and floppy, her soft spot was bulging and her feet were ice cold. We ran in with her and the nurse rushed me to the room. She said ‘no way would I have turned you away, even if she didn't have a temperature. You were begging and crying so much and you should never have to do that with a child.’

“All the nurses and doctors ran in to the room. Ava went grey and floppy and her temperature went up to 39.7. They had to give her oxygen. They told me they would treat her for meningitis to be safe. My husband and I were distraught. I was on the floor crying. I just couldn’t believe our baby was so poorly.

“She had a cannula put in for her drugs and she didn't flinch. She was very poorly. They did bloods. All night she screamed. I was walking up and down the room rocking her, singing to her, crying with her through the constant high pitched screaming.

Confirmed it was meningitis

“The following morning the consultant came to see me and asked what had been going on? I said ‘would this be anything to do with my Strep B?’ She said that was her next question - did you have any problems in pregnancy? She said they needed to do a lumbar puncture. My heart was breaking. They took Ava and did a lumbar puncture. Later that day they said she had a very nasty infection. I just felt relief that I was finally getting help. Then, that evening, the consultant came back to me and confirmed that it was meningitis, septicaemia and a brain virus. Every parent’s worst nightmare!

“All the family was devastated. My mom couldn't believe it. She had viral meningitis when she was 17 and was very poorly. The consultant felt positive that we had caught it in time. She also said this could have been brewing for weeks. I told her how often I had been to the doctors and you could see Ava was in a lot of pain because of her high pitched screaming.

“The next few days Ava kept spiking a very hot temperature; it kept shooting up to 39. She would be crying and obviously not feeling well. She was having Calpol and ibuprofen all day. The consultant was very concerned as she didn't know if it was the meningitis or the brain virus or another virus on top. She sent Ava for an ultra sound scan on her head to see if she had any fluid build-up on her brain from the meningitis. It was clear.

“Over the next few days her temperature kept getting worse and spiking more often. The consultant then sent her for an MRI scan, stomach scan, chest scan, more bloods and another lumbar puncture, to rule out anything nasty. Thankfully all the scans came back negative and she felt it was another virus that Ava may have picked up in hospital. After two weeks in hospital her temperature had come down and eventually stopped spiking. Further tests showed Ava had picked up another virus.

“The consultant who looked after Ava was amazing; I can’t thank her enough for saving my daughter’s life. The amount of support we had from our family and friends has been amazing. Luckily Ava has made a full recovery and seems happy and healthy so far.

“Thank God I went with my mother’s instinct and also took my mother and mother in law’s advice. If I’d listened to doctors and ‘stuck with the colic and screaming’ I would not have my daughter here today. When meningitis strikes it can happen so quickly and take a life within hours. I feel the luckiest mom alive that I still have my beautiful daughter. I will be doing everything I can now to raise awareness and to raise money for Meningitis Now, starting with a half marathon next year.”