Tilly, mum to Phoebe, says
“During my pregnancy, I was extremely lucky. I had none of the ‘usual’ symptoms that women get, and I enjoyed every day of being pregnant. I made it to 41 weeks + 5 when my waters finally broke, and I found myself in labour. With it being my first baby, I wasn’t sure what to expect but managed to do quite well and breathe my way through contractions for quite a while without any pain relief – I’m usually awful with pain, so this surprised me!
After a few hours, I opted for pethidine which they were unable to prescribe due to my rise in temperature and my baby’s heart rate. This was our first sign that something wasn’t right. I carried on and had gas and air instead. My temperature continued to rise, and my little girl’s heart rate did too, so I was rushed for an emergency caesarean. After 10 minutes, my beautiful little girl was born at a healthy 10.7.5lbs, and, like any new mum, I was just in awe of her.
They took her to the side room with her dad to check her over whilst I was in recovery, and I was told she’d be wheeled in for a cuddle once they had done so. A few moments passed, and then before I knew it, she was rushed off to the neonatal unit. My partner ran in to tell me that her oxygen had dropped, and she needed medical attention fast. During this time, I suffered a substantial bleed and was extremely poorly myself, so I was still unsure what was going on. It was all very overwhelming.
I woke up the following morning in complete shock and with so many questions. I just wanted to be with my little girl and to know how she was. The midwives took me to see her in the neonatal ward, and I was in utter shock. My beautiful little girl was all wired up to oxygen machines and feeding tubes. We were told she had an infection and needed antibiotics and would hopefully be better soon. I spent the next few days visiting her and holding her tiny hand, promising her I’d make her better. I was still trying to recover from the operation and blood loss myself, so was very weak and still overwhelmed by it all.
One evening as my partner left me to go home, a nurse came to the ward to explain that they needed to complete a ‘lumbar puncture’ exam on my baby as they suspected she might have meningitis. As any new mum can imagine, this sent me over the edge. How had my little girl become so poorly? I broke down for what felt like the hundredth time. I didn’t have any more ‘strength’ left in me. The results thankfully came back as ‘low chance’, but we still had no idea about what the infection was.
Days later, our little girl made a huge improvement and was removed from all her machines to join me on the ward. As difficult as it was trying to care for her and recover myself, I was just thankful to finally have the moments with her that were stripped from me the minute she was born. She was still on antibiotics but was responding well.
After six days, they told us we would be allowed home if her blood test came back as clear from infection. That night I was visited by a midwife who explained that after swabbing my placenta, I had tested positive for ‘Strep B’. I had never in my life heard of this and had no idea how dangerous it was. Phoebe had every symptom and is so lucky to have made a recovery.
We were allowed home the following day, but I still had a million questions, my first one being, ‘Why wasn’t this picked up during my pregnancy?’.
We’re now a happy little family, and although the trauma from the birth will always stay with me, I love being a mummy. However, I am very nervous now that she may still develop further problems due to her group B Strep infection and I also carry awful ‘mum guilt’ as she caught the infection from me. If only I’d known more or been screened for Strep B, things could have been so different. This is something everyone should be tested for, or at least made aware of, especially as I now know it can be prevented from passing to newborns.”