At 10.23am on Tuesday 22nd April 2008, baby Liam James was born to my daughter, Charlotte, after 17 hours of labour. During Liam’s delivery, forceps had to be used to assist the birth and probes were attached to his head to monitor his heart rate etc. Unfortunately, he became at risk of infection as the delicate skin on his head was damaged by the probes.
Due to Charlotte’s fluctuating blood sugar levels and the manner of Liam’s birth, Charlotte was placed in the high dependency ward so Liam could be more closely monitored. He appeared to be a healthy, but quiet baby but there were immediate causes for concern. His core temperature was below normal and Charlotte was advised to keep him wrapped in extra clothes, hat and a blanket to keep him warm. It was also noticed by members of the family that he was not feeding particularly well as much of his milk was being ‘spat out’ and his eyes were ‘vacant’ and not opening much. His blood/sugar levels and core temperature were monitored over the next 24 hours and when his temperature started to climb, Charlotte was advised to remove the extra clothes. Liam’s temperature appeared to stabilise and two days after he was born, Charlotte and Liam were discharged, having been told that he was fit to leave. Charlotte and Liam’s dad took him home to their flat and they prepared to start their life as a family.
During a visit by family members when Liam was just three days old, we all noticed that he was showing signs of distress; he seemed to be ‘murmuring’ with every breath, was not taking his milk and cried as soon as he was handled. During the day, Liam had several fits and his temperature rose alarmingly. Charlotte had not been given any information about meningitis and none of the family recognised any of the symptoms. The midwife was called and when she saw Liam, she immediately called an ambulance. Liam was admitted to the neo-natal intensive care ward at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, placed in an incubator and diagnosed as suffering from Group B Streptococcal meningitis (GBS). He was given a lumbar puncture which revealed a white blood cell count ‘in the thousands’. Charlotte was told by a doctor that his chance of making it through the next 24-48 hours was 50%.