Lincoln's Meningitis Story
I was blessed with a chilled baby. My second son, three weeks old, barely made a peep. So when I had friends over one day to meet him, I didn't think much when he was settled and sleepy, enjoying his extra cuddles.
It had been a little longer than usual for him to go without a feed so I took him from my friend, and immediately noticed he was quite warm. I peeled off his blanket and touched the back of his neck and decided that I was worried enough to check his temperature. When it beeped, my stomach flipped, and I instantly felt sick - it was 38.2 degrees. I knew that fevers in newborns were never normal, so it wasn't long before I was packing a bag for my baby and myself, and my other son, who I dropped off with a friend, before heading to the ED to meet my husband.
As soon as I mentioned how old he was, we were whisked straight through to a bed and asked questions there. When did the fever start? How was the birth? Had I had the GBS swab? Does he have any rashes? I've been in the ED a few times in my life, both for myself and as a support person for someone else, and I was acutely aware of how little time we spent on our own. Someone was always with us, or if we were left alone at any point, it was never for very long. His fever had risen to 39.4 in this time, as well as having a bulging fontanelle.
The registrar then came in and told me that he had called the head paediatrician. He also strongly urged us to do a lumbar puncture and a blood test, which we consented to, as well as taking a urine sample. He explained that newborn babies are very good at hiding things and that this testing would give us a clearer picture of what was going on with my baby. He mentioned the possibility of meningitis, but also said it could just be an eye infection upsetting him [he had a gunky eye for a day or so prior].
Handing over my tiny, 22 day old baby for a lumbar puncture was the hardest thing I had ever done, and I wouldn't wish it upon anybody. We were asked to wait outside for the procedure, and I just stood outside the room with tears silently streaming down my cheeks.
As he was so little, they had trouble getting a drip in to start antibiotics - it was hard to find a vein in his chubby little hands. Three different doctors tried in his little hands and feet, but they couldn't get it in. In the end, they had to inject the antibiotics straight into his legs. Time is not your friend with meningitis - they needed to treat him as if he had it, even though the results hadn't come in yet.
The next night, the paediatrician told me that his blood results were good but that the lumbar puncture confirmed he had enterovirus meningitis, a form of viral meningitis. He also had a heart murmur, but after a few tests, they concluded that it was just his little body working double-time to try and beat the infection.
We stayed in the hospital for a few days after, while they administered another course of antibiotics, as a precaution. We were then finally able to go home - heart murmur free!
My little dude is four years old now and loads of fun. He's the happiest little kid and shows everybody so much love. There have been a couple of health issues since then, but we don't know if they were a repercussion of his meningitis or not.
When his little sister was born last year, I was very vocal about people being well before visiting, no exceptions - I could never forget what my boy had been through.
I have had a few people come forward and say that our story gave them the guts to say no to people visiting if they weren't in perfect health. Newborn babies don't have the same immune systems we do - a simple cold can be life-threatening to them.