“My first child was born abroad where GBS was tested for in pregnancy, and I was found to be negative. I didn’t know at the time the full extent of GBS, so didn’t question it as she wasn’t affected.
During my second pregnancy, I developed gestational diabetes that was monitored closely, and induction was spoken about but, after multiple scans, our little baby boy was growing normally, and there were no concerns for me going full term. GBS was never mentioned to me during this pregnancy, nor was testing discussed with me; therefore, I did not ask questions about it.
Our beautiful, healthy Marcus was born 7lb 9oz at 39 weeks. There were no other risk factors, so we were discharged after staying overnight.
After nine days, Marcus became poorly, though there were no obvious signs at first. After a big feed around midnight, he had an unusually high-pitched cry, but we managed to settle him back to sleep. A few hours later, I noticed he had rapid breathing that turned into grunts, but he continued to sleep soundly. I now know this is a sign of group B Strep infection.
It was early morning when we noticed he was unresponsive, his body was limp and cold. I called the prenatal assessment unit to explain, and they said to go into A&E if we felt something was off. Mother’s instinct said ‘yes,’ so we drove as fast as we could to the hospital, where he was immediately seen by NICU nurses, doctors and the critical care team, who started fitting him with a cannula, giving him antibiotics and taking blood.
Marcus’s condition spiralled downhill very quickly, and within hours, he needed to be transferred to the PICU at a different hospital for further care. It wasn’t until then that a doctor on the critical care team asked me if I had tested for GBS. I said no, and he explained that this could be what Marcus had.
After he was transferred, we had hoped he would pull through, but within the hour, Marcus suffered a severe brain injury due to swelling, and despite the tireless efforts to save him, we had to say goodbye as he took his final breaths in our arms. He was diagnosed with group B Strep sepsis the next day. We are heartbroken that we have lost our little boy and our future with him.
I wish I had been tested for GBS and wish that I knew late-onset GBS infection existed beforehand.
I have called the GBSS Helpline a few times and spoken to Jane when it first happened, as I needed support on what to ask during Marcus’ birth review. Jane was incredibly helpful. I will continue using GBSS’ Helpline when I need it, as I have found comfort in speaking about what happened to Marcus.”