Meningitis in your words

Ruby-Louise Erica Smith's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Baby 0-1
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Ruby-Louise Erica Smith

This is the day I will never forget, being called upstairs by my boyfriend saying our daughter Ruby was not breathing properly in her sleep. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could, almost missing every step as I ran.  I picked Ruby up and thought to myself 'oh my god what is wrong with my little angel?' She was all floppy and looked as if she was unconscious.

I immediately ran downstairs and handed Ruby to my boyfriend’s mum and called 999. As I explained Ruby's symptoms the woman calmly said “don't panic but it sounds like meningitis”. My mouth dropped, how could this happen, she is so healthy and up to date with all her jabs?

We arrived at the hospital at 10.30pm and doctors and nurses were already waiting for us. They took Ruby off me and ran into resus with her, while a nurse led me to the family room. After about five minutes I was allowed to see my baby girl, then reality hit me, why was she here, why all those tubes?

"The nurse said there is nothing more we can do, Ruby is at rest now"

The paediatrician came over to me, pulled me aside and said: “Ruby has contracted meningococcal septicaemia”. I felt a lump in my throat and could hardly stand up. I went to Ruby's bedside looking down on her small innocent little body, being kept alive by machines. I held her hand and said mummy’s here. Why could this happen so quickly? With tears running down my face I told Ruby I loved her. Then the woman came back over to me and said: “We have to transfer Ruby to London’s Evelina Children’s Hospital”. I felt like my whole body was going to shatter, why my little princess?

When the London medics arrived they all agreed that Ruby was not stable enough to be transferred. After half an hour of more doses of antibiotics, Ruby's heart monitor started to beep then a very long beep. 'Noooooooo' I shouted – they were pumping Ruby's chest and squeezing air into her, my mum holding me up against the wall to stop me getting in the way, what's happening to my Ruby?

After 15 minutes of frantic screaming and shouting Ruby’s heart rate picked up again, the relief gushed through my veins. Then ten minutes later we were told that Ruby was very paralysed and brain damaged and she would never walk or talk, or even be able to do anything on her own ever again. If her heart rate goes again it’s going to be very difficult to bring Ruby back. I screamed in panic saying you’ve got to bring her back don't just let her go!

I stroked Ruby’s hair and told her I loved her, wiping blood from her little nose. I put my hand on her chest and whispered 'Mummy’s here you’re safe now'. With that I felt her heart stop beating from underneath my hand. “Noooooo come back, come back,” I screamed. The nurse took one look at me and shook her head and said there is nothing more we can do, Ruby is at rest now. Not my little girl, no it can't happen, she is only five months old and I'm only 18, why us???

I fell to a heap on the floor, trying to wake up from a dream, but it wasn't a dream it was real life, but no life is worth having without my baby girl. How would I cope and how would I tell people? I was so scared.

Now it’s nearly a year since that tragic day and I feel like I'm re-living it every day. May 27th is the anniversary of her death which I am already getting upset about, I just want my baby girl back, why did she go? What did she do wrong? Was I the wrong mum for her? Or was it God just wanting the perfect little angels first? Either way I'll never know why Ruby was chosen but I wish I did.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, sorry I can't put any pictures on here I don't want people to see Ruby like she was, I have a picture of her that was the last picture taken before she died. I hope in some way you found my story helpful and it has helped you a lot. xxxx

Stacey-Louise Roberts
March 2010