"It began to sink in how serious this really was, and that our gorgeous boy had a real fight on his hands."
“Carlo was born on 21st October 2010 at 34 weeks by cesarean section at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.
He was initially in an incubator and also required CPAP support; the staff were so amazing in NICU and Carlo quickly made progress. After two weeks he was released from hospital and we began our life as a family of four.
“Saturday 6th November was just like any other day, we had family coming over to meet Carlo, and at the time were living with my parents who were celebrating with a fireworks party. The midwife had also visited and said how well he seemed to be doing. The following day began with my parents bathing Carlo, ready for our first proper outing as a family, with Mia, Carlo's older sister.
“We saw our friends and then decided we would take Mia and Carlo shopping in Watford. As we entered the store, we looked for the lift, Dave, my husband, went one way with Mia in her stroller, whilst I went the other with Carlo in his pram. Dave called to say the lift was over by him.
Moments like hours
“The following moments felt like hours, where I felt like it was slow motion. I looked down to tell a sleeping Carlo that we had gone the wrong way, to see my gorgeous boy had a dark blue/gray look to him. I shouted to my husband and got Carlo out of his car seat; he was lifeless. By then Dave was at my side and I was saying, 'he's not breathing'. Dave took Carlo from me and I started to call for help and rang 999. A supervisor came over and said he would get a first aider. Within a few minutes, Carlo had started breathing again, with Dave rubbing his back.
“The first aid lady arrived and took Carlo to begin to check him over. We were incredibly lucky as she had previously taught first aid at the local college and had been a healthcare professional.
“When we got to the hospital they monitored Carlo and felt that things did not quite add up, so the doctor decided to keep him in and monitor him, administering antibiotics. Within hours Carlo continually stopped breathing and so was admitted to the high dependency unit and was put on CPAP. Over the following 24 hours lots of tests were conducted with no real answers. Eventually a lumbar puncture test was performed.
“I remember sitting at home as we had gone to visit Mia before going back to hospital to spend another night next to Carlo's incubator. The consultant phoned to say he was about to finish his shift and did not want someone else to deliver the news - Carlo had Meningococcal meningitis.
“When we arrived back at the hospital they explained how serious it was and that Carlo had begun having seizures and could not control his body temperature.
“It began to sink in how serious this really was, and that our gorgeous boy had a real fight on his hands. All we could do was be by his side and pray. We met a family, who are now close friends, who helped us through the awful period of time, and we will forever be grateful to them and our amazing family who visited and supported us throughout.
"After 10 days, Carlo started to show improvements and we edged closer to being able to continue his antibiotics as an outpatient. The weeks that followed were challenging and we returned for further hospital stays due to other health issues such as bronchiolitis as well as seizures. Carlo was also diagnosed as being deaf, though this has since improved with no lasting issues.
“Today, Carlo is a healthy, bright and caring 12 year old boy. Despite his challenging start to life, he has smashed through all of his milestones and is thriving. He loves life, loves his siblings and wider family.
“We will never be able to thank the amazing people who helped us through all of the moments to get us to this point. We were blessed with amazing support from both the hospital and charities such as Meningitis Now! The support and advice given was so useful, particularly reading other people's experiences and realizing there is hope.
“We feel blessed every day that we were one of the lucky families who came out of this experience with a happy ending. We know there are others who are not so lucky. We tell Carlo to live life to the max, to try new things and appreciate everything around him.”