Heidii-Mea’s Story

6th November 2014

In December 2011, Zoe’s daughter Heidii-Mea was not even a week old when she fell ill and was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. After a stay in hospital, she was well enough to return home, but lightning struck twice; at 12 weeks old, Heidii-Mea contracted bacterial meningitis again

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Lightning strikes twice

I had an up and down pregnancy with my second child, from having many unexplained bleeds to a pause in my baby’s growth between 31 and 36 weeks. Nevertheless, after many scans and tests she was born naturally at 40 weeks after a 55-minute labour and was very healthy.

We were sent home very soon after to introduce our little 6lb bundle of joy Heidii-Mea to our family, including older brother Joshua aged 3, and friends. The first few days went past like a whirlwind with visitors and gifts all flowing in along with the excitement of getting Christmas prepared – everything seemed perfect.

Six days after giving birth I began to bleed heavily and so went down to the local hospital maternity unit to check everything was okay. I was told I had a womb infection and prescribed a course of antibiotics but was okay to go home and rest, but little did we know we would be taking another trip up to the hospital less than 24 hours later. The following morning I took Heidii-Mea up to see the local midwife to do routine checks and hand over to health visitor care.

Not so routine checks

I remember waiting for what seemed forever for this appointment and questioned if I even had the right date or place! But finally a midwife came and greeted us and took us through for the check-up. She went through the standard questions; how things were going etc. and then shortly after a quick check over she began asking more unusual questions. How is her breathing? Has she seemed unwell at all? Have you noticed this rash before?

I hadn’t seen the rash but was shocked when she pointed it out. She advised that she wanted a second opinion and she called in one of the doctors. He also couldn’t work out what it was and asked me to take her to A&E as soon as I could. He called the local paediatrics at Royal Berkshire hospital to advise them that we would be attending shortly.

Slightly concerned, but not overly worried, I went home to let my partner know that the doctor had advised us to have her checked over at the Royal Berkshire hospital and that I was coming back to pack her a small bag. Being his usual laid back self, he comforted me and said he doubted it would be anything to worry about and that he would see me later on. And with that I went.

An initial sample came through inconclusive but with signs of high white cells and so they decided to make a bed (cot) ready in the ward to monitor her overnight. We settled in upstairs and called family to let them know what was happening. By this point I was getting a bit more anxious. At around 1pm we got to the children’s A&E and checked in to reception. We waited for what seemed like forever but Heidii-Mea seemed quite content in her car seat. I felt a bit silly sat in there with all the sick and hurt children; almost felt I shouldn’t be there as my baby looked so well.

Little did I know that we wouldn’t be leaving that night, or even that week! The doctor called us in and did some initial checks and then sent us over to an assessment area where she was checked over for this rash. Another doctor came over to also take a look and between them both decided on taking some samples.

Something not quite right

A few more samples later and 48 hours of no diagnosis the doctors finally decided that something wasn’t quite right and put her on a course of antibiotics and a drip as a precautionary measure and went to take her for a lumbar puncture.

Finally, after the long wait, we got the results back that my little baby had meningitis. I was dumbstruck. I had read bits about it here and there but I didn’t have a clue what they were telling me, it just wouldn’t sink in. I broke down and had to get my mum to listen to the rest of the results and decisions they had made for her. I just feared the worst. Once the diagnosis had been made and the IV and antibiotics were in place she began to make a dramatic recovery. Day by day she got better and better and after 10 days she was given the all clear.

On 23rd December 2011 I was finally allowed to bring my baby girl home to be as a family again; and that was the best Christmas present I could have possibly asked for. But, unfortunately, lightning struck twice in our household. 

On 20th February 2012 at only 12 weeks old, Heidii-Mea was blue-lighted by ambulance back to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. She seemed to have no control over her breathing, with it being very fast and wheezy along with unusual shaking. She was taken straight into intensive care after another lumbar puncture to confirm she had bacterial septicaemia. She was wired up here and there with cannulas and all sorts of drips. It scared me so much. I honestly thought we had lost her.

Showing signs of improvement

I couldn’t stay with her that night due to the health and safety of being in ICU, so they put me in a side room in a different ward and told me to listen out for the phone as they would call me in if she deteriorated at all. That was the longest night of my life; I just sat up expecting the buzz of the phone any second. Thankfully Heidii-Mea began showing signs of improvement and pulled through. I have such a little fighter I must say. After another four days in ICU, followed by slightly over a week on the ward, my little princess appeared to be right as rain again.

Many times we went back for hearing checks, growth checks, brain scans, developmental experiments etc. but each time she hit each milestone and more! She is now the bounciest, bubbliest and happiest 2-year-old I’ve ever come across and I thank each day she is with me. She is my little miracle and she fought so hard to keep bringing me this joy each day.

My husband and I set up a raffle in Heidii-Mea’s honour to raise money for Meningitis Now as we wanted to give something back. We managed to raise around £250 between family and friends.