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The most terrifying day of my life - my 1-year-old's febrile convulsion

By Lauren - Gold Coast Mum. This is a repost of Lauren's original article, it has been shared here with permission.


One of my 1-year-old twins was taken to hospital by ambulance last weekend after experiencing a febrile convulsion. Without a doubt, it was the most terrifying /petrifying/horrible experience of my life. I'm still emotional whenever I think about it. Here's what happened…

One of my three daughters, Victoria, 19-months, had a febrile convulsion at the park Saturday afternoon and we were taken to hospital in an ambulance.

It started out as a nice day at a park in Surfers Paradise, where my four children and I were celebrating the birthdays of two of their little friends.

It ended up being the backdrop for the scariest minutes of my life. Victoria had a temperature and was a bit unsettled in the morning at home, so I gave her Panadol before we left the house. Once at the party, Victoria didn’t have much of an appetite, though she was happy, for a little while, to walk around, following after her three other siblings.

Mr 3 and I enjoying our outing. Just moments before Twincess Victoria had a febrile convulsion.

Victoria (left) and Natalia. Victoria was warm so wasn't wearing as many layers as Natalia. 


The kids were having their last play in the playground as we were getting ready to head to the car to head home. Victoria had had a short nap in the pram and I got her out to change her nappy.

As I laid her down, I expressed my concern to my sister and our friend who was nearby, that Victoria seemed to be quite hot again, and not her usual self, so I’d be heading to the doctor straight from the park.

Just as I was fastening her fresh nappy, Victoria started vomiting and convulsing. 

I laid her down and screamed out to my friend to call ‘Triple 0’ and to my sister who was playing with twincess, Natalia on the swing. Luckily my sister, my children’s godmother, had joined us at the park (as it was on her way home from work) and was there when it all happened and was a huge help.

The incident was pretty traumatising for us all - the kids & our friends whose birthday we were celebrating at the park. Victoria lost all colour, looked grey and no colour in her eyes. It was the most horrible, terrifying, heartbreaking thing I've ever seen. We actually thought we were losing her as she didn't appear to breathe either.


Our friend was still on the phone to ‘Triple 0’, Victoria was still convulsing and even though we were doing everything required of us/ that first aid training tells you (having her lay safely and then place her in the recovery position) I still felt hopeless like we were losing her and there was nothing that could be done. I was thinking ‘this can’t be happening, pleeeease wake up’, then ‘f#$%, it’s happening, this is real, she’s in trouble here, we need HELP’. I was yelling 'HELP PLEASE, my baby!'

I stood up and was freaking out screaming/ flailing my arms about screeching for help to passers-by and people in the distance having BBQs in the park. Luckily a Registered Nurse was nearby and became alerted to the commotion and he rushed over to help, joining my sister kneeling down next to Victoria. He gave the stats over the phone to 000 whilst we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The seizure stopped after around 6 mins (though it felt like hours!) and the ambos arrived 3 minutes later. 


As Victoria and I got in the ambulance, my sister and our friends with their kids stayed with my other three children and I called my husband to meet them there at the park as Victoria and I were on the way to the hospital. Once in hospital, it took a few hours for Victoria to come good as she couldn't keep down Panadol etc which was needed to get the temperature down.

My hubby and sister took our kids back to our place where my Mum joined them to look after the kids with my sister so hubby could join me back at the hospital. The doctors reassured us saying it's just something that can happen and that fevers can spike like that without any warning. My hubby had a few febrile convulsions when he was little too.

We were kept under observation Victoria’s temperature came down and she could stand again, though she still wasn’t her normal self. We were discharged around 10.30 pm.  We came home and Victoria wolfed down some food before falling asleep sitting on my Mum’s lap and was transferred to bed. I hardly slept. I was up during the night to check on her repeatedly. Checking she was breathing. Checking she wasn’t too hot.


During the day on Sunday Victoria was still lethargic with increasing temps as she couldn’t keep down any Panadol.

(I stayed home with her and sent hubby and my sis off with the kids to the Disney on Ice Brisbane show that we had all been looking forward to).


I called the hospital with my concerns, speaking to the doctor who had assessed Victoria the night before, and Victoria and I made the trip back to the hospital where we were admitted.


Because she'd been spewing up the Panadol and water, Victoria had been off food for almost 24 hours.


Though, as luck should have it, my plans to wean the girls off their remaining 2/3x daily breastfeeds in the coming weeks went out the window as she was still happy to breastfeed and the doctors didn’t need to give her any extra fluids/IV as she was getting everything she needed from the breastmilk.


Victoria had a cannula inserted so blood tests could be conducted. She also had an X-ray to rule out any chest infections/pneumonia. The blood tests confirmed there was an infection of some sort and I stayed up most of Sunday night holding a wee jar near her bare bottom in an effort to catch a wee sample for the doctors. Which I finally got at around 9 am!

The urine sample confirmed a UTI and she was quickly given antibiotics. And we were released in the afternoon when she was back to walking around and had regained some colour. Since then, she’s been on the improve, though still fragile and not 100% but she’s getting there. I/ we're all just so thankful that Victoria is OK. I'm still pretty shaken up.  And I know Miss 5 is still concerned as she has asked a couple of times about the day of the incident, ‘why was mummy crying’, and ‘did Victoria nearly go to heaven?’, ‘I’m going to be a doctor when I’m bigger so I can help fix people too’. Heart melt.

I appreciate that I'm fortunate enough to have only had to deal with an unwell child for a few days (hats off to parents dealing with major/ongoing illnesses/ injuries/hospital stays etc as you are so unbelievably strong). This one incident has shaken me to the core.


I think it’s important to share this information, as even though I completed a First Aid course years ago, I had no idea how common febrile convulsions are, and that, usually, children make a full recovery. Knowing this may have possibly taken away some of the terror on Saturday when I was catching my baby’s vomit and watching her little body go limp, thinking she was gone.

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