In January 2013, baby Savannah was not even two weeks old when she started vomiting unusually. Her worried mum, Michelle, suspected something wasn’t right and acted quickly by taking her straight to her GP
On the evening of 16 January Savannah vomited back three full bottles of milk which I found unusual as she wasn't a ‘sickly’ baby. The following morning she woke with a temperature of 39.6. I called NHS 111 to explain the situation but they weren't concerned, and just told me to see a GP within the next few hours.
From doctors to hospital
I wasn’t happy with this so I called my GP straight away and he told me to give Savannah 1ml of Calpol and water down her milk (at eight days old she’d come down with gastroenteritis which hadn't gone).
My instincts told me I couldn't just take her home and give her Calpol, so I asked the GP to take her temperature again.
Savannah’s temperature had risen to 40 degrees, so the GP called a paediatrician and we were sent to the children's assessment unit at Blackpool Victoria hospital.
Within half an hour, my daughter had been taken for a lumbar puncture and had a cannula fitted. Blood test results showed an infection, but they didn't know what it was so Savannah was put on a general antibiotic and painkillers.
A rare disease
By 6pm, a doctor had come to me and told me that my tiny 13 day old baby had meningitis and they thought it was listeria.
A microbiologist came later that evening and confirmed it was listeria and said it was an extremely rare form of meningitis; the majority of doctors and nurses had never seen a case of it before.
Savannah was put on two different antibiotics, given intravenously every two hours, and blood samples were taken every day.
For the first two days, Savannah wouldn't take her milk and she was very lethargic. I was worried sick that we hadn't caught it in time.
By day three she started taking her milk, and lots of it! The blood results were showing that her white blood cell count was coming down which meant she was fighting it. The local environmental health agency had to be informed, and they came to question me.
Investigating the cause
They said listeria is usually passed from mother to baby via the placenta, so I was asked about the foods I had eaten. I had never eaten anything that I was told to avoid whilst pregnant, such as pate or soft cheese etc.
I was shocked how many different food stuffs can contain listeria! I felt like I was to blame for my baby being poorly, but the doctors reassured me that it was something I couldn't have helped.
Within seven days Savannah was showing signs of recovery. The doctors were surprised by how well she was doing, and agreed for us to take her home in the daytime where a nurse came out to administer the antibiotics.
By day ten, she was sent for a CT scan to check for any abscesses on her brain, but the results came back clear.
Home at last
By day 13, the doctors were happy that she had made a full recovery and we were sent home. My little miracle surprised everybody and defied all odds.
She still has developmental checks, but so far she has reached all her milestones and is developing well. She’s a beautiful 6 month old now and is fighting fit.
Meningitis Now's website has a lot of information on it and it helped me understand what my baby girl was going through.