Baby Rio was just over a week old when he became poorly, on the hottest day of the year. Mum Leah, from Didcot in Oxfordshire drove him to hospital that night, where bacterial meningitis was diagnosed
Rio’s just out of hospital now but still receiving treatment and Leah is glad to have him home and start their new life as a family of six. She tells their story here.
“The 14th of July 2019 was the day we welcomed our fourth beautiful baby into the world. Rio was 7lb 8oz of perfection, everything fine, no problems and we were sent home to start our life as a family of six! We had just over a week of being home and settling into baby mode before our nightmare began."
“July the 25th is a day I will never forget – the day everybody was struggling as it just so happened to hit record breaking heat that day. Little Rio seemed fine the majority of the day; maybe a little more sleepy, but because it was extremely hot, I put it down to that."
Just wasn’t happy
“Early evening, I noticed he felt a little hot, but his temperature wasn’t worryingly high. Around 9pm he kept crying, like he had trapped wind or just wasn’t very happy. I was sat outside with him as he felt so warm, but it didn’t seem to help or stop him being unsettled. By 10:30pm I was starting to worry as he still didn’t seem happy and for a baby who hadn’t cried in the 11 days of being in the world it wasn’t like him at all. His temperature at this point was 38c and this was when I panicked a little."
“My partner was trying to reassure me that it was just the heat and he was probably just hot and bothered but I just knew I had to get him seen. So, at 11pm I’m in the car on route to our A&E, which is a 40-minute drive."
My heart sank
“Within half hour or being there Rio was checked over, in a room, observations done and talk of cannulas, urine tests and lumbar punctures had begun. Hearing the words lumbar puncture on my tiny baby my heart sank. My poor little baby was going to have to go through so much at so young an age – I knew it was for the right reasons, so I didn’t even question them."
“Unfortunately, the lumbar puncture was unsuccessful, but they would repeat it the next day. A positive result for infection from his urine came back but we wouldn’t know what kind for the next couple of days. We were put on a ward and he was already having antibiotics for the urine infection and also in case meningitis.The next day we were told it was an E-coli infection and that it can spread quite quickly to the spinal fluid, so they would need to redo the lumbar puncture. Again, it was unsuccessful. The doctor said they could only do it once more and then they would decide whether or not to treat Rio for meningitis regardless."
Waiting felt like a lifetime
“Three days later on the Sunday they did the third and final lumbar puncture. I was praying for a successful result just to know if he did or didn’t have it. They managed to get enough to send off and said it would take a few hours to know more. That felt like a lifetime waiting to hear back from them. Three hours later two doctors walked in and said the words no parent ever wants to hear – unfortunately it is meningitis, bacterial meningitis, which from what I had heard is the worst type."
“Within seconds I was sobbing! My poor little baby wasn’t even two weeks old! Is he going to die? Will he be okay? What happens now? I was crying uncontrollably but also trying to stop myself to listen to the doctor. He explained that Rio had caught an E-coli water infection, which is quite common in young boys, and also unfortunately spreads and turns into meningitis."
“The only good thing I heard from this was that I had brought him in so quickly and that he was responding well to the antibiotics. I didn’t and don’t know a lot about meningitis, only the horror stories and posters you see stating ‘meningitis can kill in hours. I always assumed meningitis was a rash and that’s how you knew it was that and that’s how it started! I am so glad I trusted my instincts to get him seen when I did!"
Never thought of meningitis
“I would of never even thought meningitis going by how he was being. Knowing now the first signs of it before the rash, he did have signs. High temperature, irritability, crying for no reason. My friends and family also didn’t realise these were signs as they all kept saying ‘but he doesn’t have a rash’. Not everybody gets a rash and by then it’s a lot more severe as septicaemia has kicked in."
“We are still currently in hospital and have done one week of antibiotics with two more weeks to go. He is showing so much improvement and I’m praying he makes a full recovery. We have a long road ahead with lots of follow-ups. Hoping the next two weeks go as well as they can and that our beautiful baby boy is healthy, healed and home. Having to stay in hospital with my poorly baby while my other three children are at home is heartbreaking and I can’t wait to be home and finally start our life as a family of six."
“Mummies and daddies just remember, the first sign is NOT a rash! Not everybody gets all the signs and they may not be in any particular order. You never think it will happen to your child; I know I didn’t! So, just knowing the symptoms to look out for other than a rash may help get people seen sooner. I’m very thankful to Meningitis Now for having so much information about it and also for afterwards. I’m terrified of what’s to come after Rio finishes his course of antibiotics, so to have some information on what could happen and support for afterwards is very helpful.”