Meningitis in your words

Aila Hazel Beattie's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: GBS (Group B streptococcal)
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Aila Hazel Beattie

Aila Hazel Beattie was born by C-Section on Saturday 10th July 2010 at Ninewells Hospital. Me and my husband Craig were surprised – but delighted – that what we’d both been convinced was a blue bump turned out to be a girl! We loved spending time with our gorgeous little girl and Craig got stuck into changing nappies and lots of cuddling.

On the Monday myself and Aila transferred to Arbroath Infirmary and lots of visitors came to get a look at our beautiful daughter.

That night Aila was very unsettled and wouldn’t sleep unless she was in bed with me. The next day she developed a rash and would get incredibly frustrated when I tried to breastfeed, raging to the point she was red all over except her blue hands and purple feet.

"I felt so guilty for making my daughter so ill"

That evening I was feeling tearful and worried about Aila so the midwife called on the doctor on call to come and attend to her. As it is a small maternity unit the doctor who came was a GP; he said that the rash was probably erythema which was common in newborns and nothing to worry about and he thought that the rage and frustration when I tried to feed was Aila picking up on my discomfort and pain from her latching onto my already severely damaged nipples. They took her temperature – which was high – so they stripped our daughter down to her vest and the midwife was told to take her temperature every hour.
I woke the next morning at 4am realising that Aila’s temperature had not been taken for several hours and she had not woken for a feed. I buzzed the midwife who took Aila’s temperature which had spiked again. Four hours later me and Aila were in a neonatal transfer ambulance for an agonisingly slow journey back to Ninewells where she was admitted to NICU and put straight onto an antibiotic drip. We were told she had septicaemia and they would like to do a lumbar to check for meningitis. My heart sank; having lost my friend to meningococcal septicaemia I knew how quickly these devastating diseases can kill.
As Aila’s platelets were so low the lumbar puncture was never carried out, blood tests failed to identify the culprit but a swab of a sore area on Aila’s neck showed positive for Group B Strep. I had none of the risk factors but my daughter had picked this up from me; I felt so guilty for making my daughter so ill. On Friday Aila’s condition deteriorated to the point that she was fed through her nose and a drip, I felt numb.
Thankfully over the next few days Aila bounced back and has made a full recovery. We were finally released from hospital when Aila was two and a half weeks old. I am saddened and at times angered by the level of care Aila received in Arbroath – her story could so easily have had another ending. My husband says that my mother’s instinct saved our daughter’s life, but I don’t feel I did anything any mum wouldn’t.

This is a terrible disease that parents and health care professionals alike need to be more aware of as babies’ lives are being put at risk needlessly. I wouldn’t wish our ordeal on anyone.