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Phoebe C’s story

17th November 2017

In 2014 Gemma’s daughter Phoebe had a high temperature, high pitched cry and was unable to settle. Motherly instincts told Gemma from Cricklade in Wiltshire that something wasn’t right – here she shares her story

Phoebe C’s story

“My daughter Phoebe was three weeks old and on a Saturday morning she had a temperature and wouldn't settle. Her hand felt stone cold too.

“I took her temperature and it was reading nearly 40! My husband and I called 111 - not the best experience, and it left us a little baffled. We were told to wait at home then to go to Stroud. I knew having an older daughter that what was happening to Phoebe wasn't right, so instead we went straight to Cirencester.

“Not really knowing what was wrong, I was concerned but not panicking at this point. I'd had HG (a complication during pregnancy) with Phoebe when pregnant, so felt pretty comfortable in hospital at this point! When we arrived a doctor took a look at her immediately. I'll never forget the look on her face when she asked how quickly we could get to Swindon - if it was more than 30 mins they would blue light us.

“The fear in both Dan and I started to set in. What could be so wrong for them to rush us? With Madeleine in tow we went straight to Swindon. Once there, a consultant met us but still no one said what could be wrong. Phoebe was examined and admitted.

“We were told a lumbar puncture would be done so I asked what for - as soon as the dreaded ‘M’ word was uttered I lost it. Sleep deprived I couldn't contain myself.

“My husband arranged for family to have Madeleine and went home to get our things. Utterly terrified I remember looking at our tiny girl thinking that already we'd been through so much – complications during pregnancy and now this!

“It took a few days for tests to come back and confirm viral meningitis, and in that time Phoebe was pumped with antibiotics to treat it as if bacterial. Her temperature spiked and the first night in hospital she couldn't settle. Horrific doesn't do it any justice. The staff were amazing, nothing was too much trouble and I think they liked the cuddles with Phoebe.

“The rash didn't appear until days three and four. I dread to think if I had waited for that - it's like a rash I'd never seen, or want to see again. After what seemed like forever, but in reality just under a week, we were home.

“I was told about the long term impact of viral meningitis at the hospital, but it was all too much to take in to be honest. She wasn't showing any signs but it was a case of wait and see. Thankfully you'd never know Phoebe had such a dramatic start to her little life. She's full of energy, laughter, smiles and strops! All of which I'm very, very thankful for. I know this isn't the case for everyone.

“The social media posts from Meningitis Now about generating awareness are amazing. The info on what to look for is so easy to glance at that it makes all the difference. I'm more aware than ever of the early signs of meningitis. Please do not wait for a rash and always go with your gut feeling - mums know their babies best.”