A MUM has described coming to the horrifying realisation that her eight-day-old daughter might not make it as she held the tiny tot in her arms.
Little Maddison had meningitis – an infection of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord that can be deadly to babies.
In a post shared by child and baby first aid page Tiny Hearts Education, the mum is now pleading with other parents to trust their gut and get their little one help if something doesn't seem quite right.
Madison was just seven days old when her mum thought: "Something's just not right."
There wasn't a specific symptom she could point to, but a few subtle changes in Maddie's disposition had her parent's alarm bells ringing.
In an accompanying clip to Tiny Hearts' post, the mum recalled how her daughter's jaundice had gotten "markedly worse".
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Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin that's common in babies and usually harmless, NHS guidance states.
Dark yellow urine and pale coloured poop are other symptoms of jaundice, which usually develops two days after birth and tends to get better without treatment within two weeks.
But you should speak to your GP or midwife immediately if your baby's symptoms quickly get worse or they become very reluctant to feed.
Aside from jaundice, Maddison also seemed more lethargic and her umbilical stump seemed to irritate her. But her temperature was within a 'normal' range when her mum took it – 37.2 C.
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She spoke to her husband about her concerns and booked a GP appointment for the following morning.
"She didn't look acutely unwell but it just wasn't sitting right and I wanted her to be checked out," the mum wrote.
But she grew even more worried when her little one became unsettled during the night and kept falling asleep while she was being fed.
Meanwhile, Madison's temperature increased to 38.2 C. The other red flag was that she had fewer wet and dirty nappies that usual.
That's when her parents decided to take her straight to the emergency department.
Maddie's care was fast-tracked and she was taken to a treatment room where the health team started looking for signs of sepsis and she was hooked up to multiple monitors.
"We were asked a lot of questions to understand what brought us in, and despite the chaos, I felt clear and confident in explained the course of events and my concerns, which boiled down to 'she's just not quite right'," the mum recalled.
The emergency department team took her concerns seriously and performed a lumbar puncture on Maddie.
Also known as a spinal tap, this involves inserting a thin needle between the bones of the lower spine to take a sample of fluid from the spinal cord.
It confirmed that little Maddison had meningitis.
The mum wrote: "I don't think anything can prepare you as a parent to be told such devastating news.
"I remember holding my 8-day-old little girl in my arms and thinking, 'She could actually die'."
What consoled the mum and got her through this agonising time was the fact that they'd caught the dangerous illness early.
Maddison was given an aggressive round of intravenous antibiotics – that means the medicine was inserted into the tot's vein.
Meanwhile, the family waited with baited breath for five day for results from the cultures taken from Maddie, which would show if there was bacterial growth.
Fortunately, there was no evidence of bacterial meningitis, which is when bacteria invades the meninges.
Instead, doctors were able to determine that the baby's meningitis was viral and likely caused by enterovirus.
This is a very common type of virus that usual causes mild illness but can be dangerous to babies before they have built up immunity.
"Any of us could have passed this on to her," the mum said.
She added: "One thing that stood out to me was the team kept praising us for coming in when we did and took my concerns and my “mum gut” seriously."
The mum credited Tiny Hearts for giving her the confidence to act quickly and convey her concerns about Maddie to medical team.
"She’s now fully recovered from her rocky start," she shared.
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Maddison has to have some follow up visits to the doctor to check her hearing wasn't affected by the illness, the mum feels incredibly lucky to be able to hold her daughter in her arms.
"We are just so grateful she’s here and safe at home. I hope sharing our experience can help others feel confident to trust themselves."
Signs of mengitis parents should know
It can be hard to tell when you’re baby is unwell and meningitis can cause subtle changes to their behaviour and habits.
Here are the common signs of meningitis in babies and children:
- fever, cold hands and feet
- drowsy, floppy or unresponsive
- unusual or high pitched cry, moaning
- refusing food and vomiting
- rapid breathing or gruntng
- a tense, bulging fontanelle – this is the soft spot at the top of a baby's head
- fretful, dislike of being handled
- pale, blotchy skin or a rash that doesn't fade when you roll a glass over it
- stiff neck, dislike of bright lights
- convulsions and seizures
The symptoms can appear in any order and some many not appear at all.
Don't wait for a rash to appear before getting help if you think something is wrong.
Source: Meningitis Now
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