At my 36 week OBGYN appointment, I was tested for GBS (Group B Strep).
The next time I went to the Doctors office, my OB had simply forgot to discuss my results with me, so instead, as I was getting into my car to leave I received a phone call.
"Hi, Erica? This is Dr. ---- , I just wanted to let you know that I forgot to talk to you about it, but your test results came back and you are positive for GBS. Please don't worry, it's completely normal, 1 in 4 women test positive during pregnancy, all that it means is that when you go in to deliver, you will be given antibiotics through your IV."
She sounded completely nonchalant and said it was normal.. so I just said "okay," and hung up, not realizing that my entire life would change based on the information she just provided.
At my 39 week appointment, I went in to be checked and had my membranes stripped in hopes of avoiding being induced the next week. (Another thing that I, and obviously my Dr, were unaware of that SHOULD NOT be done if you are GBS positive!! Sweeping of the membranes can introduce bacteria to your baby!) My Dr went ahead and did the procedure without reservation.
On July 3, 2016, I went into Labor & Delivery to be induced. I told the nurse I was GBS positive and she said okay and started penicillin through my IV.
On July 4 at 12:22am, our angel, Mila Reign, was born. After two days in the hospital, we went home with our perfectly healthy baby girl.
Five weeks later, in the middle of the night, Mila woke up screaming. Not a typical "hungry" cry, but a painful cry. I tried to feed her anyways to comfort her (she always liked to be latched) and she wouldn't eat. (THE FIRST SYMPTOM OF GBS that was missed)
We thought she might be constipated so my husband went to get some prune juice. While he was gone, I laid her on her stomach and rubbed her back. She started breathing funny and sounded as if she were sighing with every exhalation. (THE SECOND SYMPTOM OF GBS that was missed)
I turned Mila over to pick her up and noticed she was extremely lethargic. (THE THIRD SYMPTOM OF GBS that was missed) I knew something was not right.
When my husband returned home, we brought Mila to the emergency room and after waiting in line, the nurse finally took her temperature and discovered she had a fever. (THE FOURTH SYMPTOM OF GBS that was missed)
After discussing Mila's symptoms and waiting for a room to become available, we were finally sent back to begin testing. After a urine and blood test that came back normal, we were almost sent home by the Doctor. Luckily, he cross-checked with an on-shift pediatrician who told him not to let us go without performing a spinal tap.
A couple hours later, we were sent to a different hospital by ambulance when it was discovered that Mila had meningitis.
At the hospital, Mila had to have a central line put in and during insertion, she stopped breathing and started to seize. The hospital we were at did not have the proper machines to monitor the seizures so we were once again transported by ambulance to another hospital.
Over the next couple days, Mila's health rapidly declined. We found out that by the time we arrived at the final hospital, her entire brain and brainstem had been completely affected. After about a week of constant monitoring and medication, Mila was removed from life support.
I do not blame any of the health care professionals involved, HOWEVER, I DO think that there needs to be a greater awareness of GBS symptoms and possible effects.
If my doctor would have sat down with me upon finding out I was GBS positive and discussed the possible outcomes, maybe we would have done things differently.
Maybe if I knew that death, no matter how small of a chance, was a possibility, I would have done more research and decided not to have my membranes stripped.
Maybe if the doctors and nurses would have told me signs and symptoms to look out for, I would have been more prepared and alert.
Maybe if I knew that there was such a thing as "late onset GBS" I would have been tested prior to leaving the hospital.
Maybe if I knew that GBS could be spread through breastmilk, again, no matter how small the chances, I would have had my breastmilk tested prior to breastfeeding.
Maybe if the nurses and doctors were aware of the symptoms of GBS in the emergency room, we wouldn't have had to wait so long.. maybe less of her brain would have been affected by the time she was properly treated.
All of these maybes are my reasons for supporting this cause. If what we've learned from Mila's story can help ONE set of parents from losing their child the way that we did, then I'm willing to do whatever I can to make that happen.
Thank you for helping share Mila's story, and possibly saving a life.
What if we had known how to help protect our babies from GBS?
1) Learn about GBS at www.groupbstrepinternational.org
2) Contribute to the cause by making a donation
The first $25,000 raised ~ GBSI plans to exhibit and/or present at two important international conferences, such as FIGO 2018 and ISPID-ISA 2018, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives 63rd Annual Meeting & Exhibition as well as cover our routine printing and shipping of GBS info to parents and perinatal providers.
The next $5,000 raised~ Have our website and all of our GBS materials fully translated into Spanish and then print and ship Spanish-language GBS info to the many requests we've had over the years.
The next $40,000 raised~ Will provide funding to implement statewide distribution of GBS info through two US State Departments of Health and one smaller country's Department of Health. Funding would include staffing, printing, and distribution of materials. (See what GBS mom, Bevin Tomlin did with the State of Alabama!) AND work with those Departments of Health to ensure that babies' death certificates are being updated when pathology tests results are available so that GBS infections are counted! (We learned that this isn't happening as it should - even in the US - when we were at a perinatal conference in Uruguay last year.)
3) Share our posts through your social media
Share ways to promote July as International GBS Awareness Month by clicking HERE
If you are a GBS parent and haven't already, share your story for GBSI's website by clicking HERE
Let’s make this the best July so far for GBS awareness!