Our experience with Group B Strep - Maria’s story

Leo 1

Maria gave birth to her son Leo at 41 weeks, and they went on to spend two weeks in the NICU. She shares her neonatal story via a blog post and poetry.

My pregnancy was not a straightforward one. With Covid restrictions to contend with, it was never really going to be, but even still I was surprised by how often I found myself at Warrington Hospital for extra scans or appointments.

With pelvic girdle pain making walking, sleeping – in fact, just moving – difficult, I realised that pregnancy with a three-year-old non-sleeper at home, in the middle of a pandemic, was not going to be easy.

I also realised towards the end of my third trimester that I held a lot of post-natal anxiety as a result of my first labour. Following a debrief with a consultant at the hospital, I was able to learn about what had gone wrong that first time and, armed with this information, I became more determined to have my *perfect* birth.

Leo 2

Well, my dream of having a perfect birth didn’t last long.

After lots of contractions and false labours, I asked to be re-examined. Being told I was only 6cm still, was devastating. I believe the next part is called ‘transition’ where you start to heavily doubt your own ability to birth. I’m not ashamed to admit that I begged to just “get this baby out of me, I don’t care how.”

24 minutes later, whilst the midwife was trying to get the monitors back on, I informed the many people in the room that I needed to “GET OFF THIS BED!”

Leo 3

And I stood up

And I birthed this little boy that we now know is Leo Alexander Thomas Ames.

And we had cuddles

And they weighed him

And they stitched me up

And we talked about how his heart rate would be monitored overnight

And we put his blue hat on him and took photos that we intended would “announce” his birth

And he cuddled his dad

And I showered

And then he wouldn’t settle

And he wouldn’t feed

And he made these loud noises when he was breathing

And we thought the noises were quite cute but we wondered how we would ever sleep when he was so noisy!

And the midwife said she would just check him over to make sure everything was ok

And by 2am

Our little baby Leo

Was intubated and on a ventilator

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Fighting for his life

And I just begged for somebody


To tell me that my little boy was going to be ok

And they just said,

“He needs a lot of support”

And that’s what they gave him.

To put it mildly, our little boy was very poorly indeed.

He had wires and lines and tubes all over his tiny body.

He couldn’t breathe on his own.

He was given fluids through a line.

Every day he was poked and prodded and pricked.

His little feet looked like they’d been cut to ribbons.

Leo 4

He had head scans, chest x rays, so many blood tests, so many lines, so much medication just to get his body stable – all in the first few days alone.

Then, we were desperately waiting for his blood to start clotting properly so that a lumbar puncture could thankfully rule out meningitis. After a few days, we learnt that Leo had an infection called Group B Strep (GBS) which had caused sepsis. He was on the right treatment already, thanks to the fast-acting NNU staff.

And then his chest scans started to come back clear.

And he breathed on his own.

And he didn’t need the blue light anymore.

And his blood stopped being “deranged”

And his blood pressure normalised.

And one

by one

by one

Each line disappeared

Until there was only one left.

Our little fighter was getting better.

Leo 5

I won’t list every single procedure, every line, every treatment. But in that first week, my little Leo went through more than most adults go through in a lifetime. He is easily the bravest person I know.

There is plenty of information out there on Group B Strep and the often-devastating effects it can have. Needless to say, it is a deadly infection. Those first few days were touch and go and we were lucky to be leaving that hospital two weeks later with our little boy in our arms.

We owe everything to the amazing people in the Neonatal Unit. The most amazing group of people. So selfless. So wonderful. Nurses who became friends. Friends who would later come to visit me as I also became very unwell with an infection, when no one else could. Who hugged me, even though they weren’t ‘huggers’.

They saved our little boy and, in doing so, they saved us too. We owe them everything.