Every expectant mother looks forward to the day when she will welcome her newborn baby into the world.
And Plumbridge woman Annie Mullan was no exception.
In February of 2011 she and husband Vincent were patiently awaiting the arrival of their first child, a baby boy named Darragh.
Little did she know that a common infection would risk the life of her unborn baby and that he would spend the first two and half weeks, seriously ill, in hospital- with an infection that could have been prevented with a simple blood test.
And that, were it not for the insistance of her midwife that Darragh be cared for on the neonatal unit, the tot may not have survived beyond those early days.
“Prior to Darragh’s birth I had very little knowledge of Group B Strep, I had vague recollection of reading about it once,” Annie explained.
She had no reason to believe that her labour and birth with Darragh would be complicated.
“I was due on 21st February 2011 and I had a scan at Altnagelvin on this date. I was then 3cms dilated so they gave me a sweep and made an appointment for me to be admitted on the third of March if I didn’t progress. I had a few pains but nothing major over the next few days.
“About a week later I realised I had a slight temperature, I told the midwives but they didn’t seem concerned and I went in as planned on the I was started with a membrane rupture in the afternoon, I did not progress quickly with this so I was given a chemical drip. During labour I did have a temperature.”
Baby Darragh was a big baby - weighing in at 9lbs and 12 ounces so in addition to the slow labour and temperature, his delivery was complicated.
He suffered from shoulder distosia and required assistance breathing after delivery - while this was deeply distressing for Annie And Vincent - it turned these added complications perhaps saved his life.
Due to his difficulties in breathing after delivery, the on call midwife insisted he be checked over in the neonatal unit. “There his breathing continued to be erratic and then he started producing stomach bile so he was placed on IV antibiotics, thankfully,” Annie said. The day after he was born, GBS was detected in his system and he spent the first fives days of his life exceptionally ill.
“Darragh was given a lumber puncture on the fifth day as he was too ill prior to this.
“Thankfully the result of this was clear meaning that it didn’t reach the brain. As well as septicaemia, he also had an infection in the stomach wall preventing feeding until the 13th day.
“The senior doctor who prescribed the antibiotics basically said that he was very lucky to have had a difficult birth as this attracted attention to him and got him into the unit.”
While Darragh now thrives, Annie said: “It is a pity that we rely on ‘luck’ to save these babies lives when it is totally preventable. “Following the 10 days on IV antibiotics, feeding was started and Darragh was discharged on his 17th day. His progress was monitored for 18 months as there is a chance of brain injury and development problems but thankfully this does not seem to be the case for us.
“Others are not so lucky.”