Eva P's story

22nd September 2017

We went to bed on 28th December with Eva just one week and five days old. The day and evening had been entirely normal with nothing to indicate that Eva was poorly.

Eva
At about 11pm she began to get grizzly, escalating into full on screaming. When we tried to comfort her she screamed even more.

It was terrifying, but as new parents we tried to pass her to each other in case it was something we were doing or not doing to calm her.

She dozed throughout the night intermittently, but each time she awoke she was crying. She found some comfort being held and lying on her stomach, but could not settle on her back.

We were unsure if this was colic, as it’s something everyone had said to us when she had cried before. But again, as new parents we didn't really understand colic or how we would tell if it was that.

Eventually at about 7am I called my mum, who on hearing that she cried more when handled instantly told me to call the NHS. She even hung up the phone to let us do that.

Very scared

I first called the doctor’s surgery and took Eva round to their first morning appointment. The GP sent us up to the local hospital. At this point we were very scared, although a part of you thinks you are just being ridiculous.

We waited to be seen by the nursing staff, trying to feed Eva as she hadn’t taken any fluids since the night before. She managed a few minutes and just seemed too tired to continue.

The hospital staff were lovely. Their first action was to take swabs from Eva before getting a lumbar puncture.

My husband and I were advised not to go and went downstairs to the café. At that point I think it hit us that our baby could potentially be very sick.

We then had to wait for the results of the lumbar puncture, so Eva stayed in overnight, and for the next three nights.

She was immediately put on antibiotics in case it was bacterial meningitis.

Her temperature was so high, we were advised not to handle her and she was on the bed stripped. Her temperature and heart rate both stayed continuously high and she was given fluids intravenously to try and reduce this.

As she still wouldn’t lie on her back, she was X-rayed for any stomach issues, which fortunately were clear.

After two days she was fitted with a tube to feed her as she wasn't able to feed herself.

Fantastic doctor

After three days, we were given the diagnosis of viral meningitis. The doctor was fantastic, explaining what was wrong without mentioning meningitis until the very end. Once I heard it mentioned I didn't hear anything else that was said.

Fortunately, Eva got better as quick as she got sick and after nearly 4 days she was discharged.

She still has her last hearing test ominously on Friday 13th October, but hopefully that will be all clear.

The meningitis effect though, didn’t disappear when Eva got discharged.

I struggled mentally. I felt as though I had lost my daughter. I felt guilt for leaving her as long as I did, and not knowing it was something serious.

Sense of guilt

I struggled to allow others to handle her and I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for even feeling like that at all, as some people are worse off and have lost their children, or they are living with life changing after affects.

I felt as though I had no right to feel the way I did when Eva was healthy.

As Eva was better, people stopped asking if we were ok, because obviously she was ok. It was just me not being able to deal with it.

The GP diagnosed me with some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I was left pretty much to my own devices, advised to 'make sure it didn’t turn into Post Natal Depression'.

My Health Visitor was more supportive in making me feel normal. Despite that, it took a long, long time for the guilt to disappear.

If I’m honest, I still feel uncomfortable allowing people who aren’t around her often to handle her. I try and hide it as to not offend anyone but it is still difficult.

My husband and my mum were huge supports for me on an individual level. I couldn’t have got through it without them. Here’s hoping the memory will soon fade.

My husband is doing the London cycle event to raise money for Meningitis now, so hopefully if anything the experience can lead to more positive experiences for us, and to help others.

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