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Riley's Story   — Christen Toothman, CO, USA

Our nightmare began early on the morning of December 8, 2011. Riley was almost 5 weeks old. The night before she was really fussy and didn't want to eat much which was unusual for her. At 3 AM I woke to find that she had not woken up for her usual midnight feeding and would not take a bottle still. She also had a fever. This is when I made my first mistake--instead of taking her to the ER, I decided to wait it out until her pediatrician's office opened. By the time we arrived for her appointment her color had become almost gray, she was moaning, and her temperature had dropped to 95 degrees. They called an ambulance to take us across town to the Children's Hospital and I held on to my 2 year old while he waited for daddy to come pick him up and meet us at the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital she was admitted to the PICU and they started running tests to find out what was wrong. Within a few hours she had stopped breathing and needed to be intubated. She had an IV in each limb, another IV in her head, and a central line placed. With each slight movement her vital signs dropped. The results of the spinal came back and confirmed that it was Group B Strep Meningitis. I had tested positive during my pregnancy, but was assured that I had nothing to worry about because I was having a repeat c-section. They were wrong. Riley was intubated for 8 days. She spent a total of 23 days in the hospital and continued IV antibiotics at home for another 6 weeks. She had lost her ability to swallow properly and had to have a gtube placed. Her vision was also affected and she now has cortical vision impairment. The meningitis did great damage to her tiny brain. When she was 6 months old she started having infantile spasms; also a result of the brain damage. She is almost 8 months old now and is developmentally behind. Each week we spend hours at different therapies and doctor's appointments. The little girl I only got to know for a short time is gone. We aren't sure what the future holds or what her needs will be, but chances are she will need a lot. We hope for the best, but are prepared (as much as you can be anyway) for the worst. If only we knew then what we know now, I would have insisted that more attention be paid to my positive GBS results. Editor's Note: Babies can also become infected by GBS from sources other than the mother so everyone should wash their hands thoroughly before handling your baby.

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