A MUM was forced to relive her “worst nightmare” when her daughter died of meningitis just three years after she lost twins suffering a miscarriage.
Heartbroken Becky Barton now has no children after her 18-month-old daughter, Mia, died from the deadly infection in March last year.
Becky and partner Matthew Bright, both 33, thought their little girl had chicken pox.
But hours after being diagnosed with meningitis B she was dead.
Now, they hope that by speaking out, they can help encourage other parents to get their kids vaccinated agains the vicious disease.
The Men B vaccine is now part of the NHS childhood immunisation programme, for all babies born after July last year.
Becky, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said: “Our life came to an end when she died.
“How are you supposed to pick up the pieces when your most prized possession is gone?
“You should never have to bury your child. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
“She was everything we lived for. You try to pick the pieces up and live a normal life but it’s never going to be normal again.”
The 33-year-old said she finds herself “constantly retracing my steps”, questioning if she could have done something different to save her little girl.
“But it was that vigorous and that fast there was nothing we could have done,” she added.
“It’s really hard to deal with, you have to love and care for your children and protect them but I didn’t protect her from it and I have to deal with that for the rest of my life.
“No matter how many times people tell you it’s not my fault it’s hard to accept it.”
Becky and Matt have been together for 11 years and after the twins miscarried at 12 weeks in March 2013 they decided to try again.
Mia was born in September 2014.
Becky, a nursery worker, said: “When I got pregnant with Mia I was a bag of nerves. I went to hospital for every little thing. I was so scared that I would have another miscarriage.
“When she was born we felt like Christmas had come early.”
On the day before she died, Mia began to show signs she was unwell, when she developed a high temperature and was sick twice later that night.
She seemed alert but later that night when her parents put her to bed they noticed a red spot which they thought could be chickenpox.
Hours later Mia’s temperature had risen further.
When they noticed the tell-tale meningitis rash they drove her straight to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with meningitis immediately.
Becky said: “At half past 10 that night I said ‘I think she’s got chicken pox’ because she was showing red spots.
“We put her in bed with us because when your kids run down you want them to be near you.
“She woke us up at 2.30am wanting a drink.
“She was red and was burning up. I asked Matt to get her some Calpol but I saw she was plastered in the meningitis rash. It was deep purple with red blotches.
“She deteriorated so quickly. The doctor took one look at her and suspected straight away that she had meningitis.
“They were doing everything they could for her. It was a living nightmare.”
A few hours later, Mia’s heart stopped for eight minutes but the doctors were able to revive her.
But tragically it stopped again due to septic shock and she died at 5am that morning.
Becky said: “It just happened so quickly. Her body couldn’t fight it off.
“One minute she was here and then she was gone. It didn’t feel real. Even to this day it doesn’t feel real.”
What are the key symptoms?
The symptoms of meningitis can develop very quickly, and include:
- a high fever – over 37.5 degrees (the average temperature)
- being sick
- a headache
- a blotchy rash that won’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
- stiffness, especially in the neck
- drowsiness, irritability or a lack of energy
- cold hands and feet
- In babies the symptoms can be slightly different, they may:
- refuse to eat
- be agitated and not want to be picked up
- having a bulging soft spot on their head
- be floppy and inresponsive
- have an unusual, high-pitched cry
- have a stiff body
From September 2015 the Meningitis B vaccination was included in the childhood immunisation programme for children born on or after July 2015 – too late for Mia.
This vaccination is offered to babies aged two months, with a second dose at four months and another at 12 months free of charge but is also offered privately for people who are ineligible.
Babies born on or after 1 May 2015 are also being offered the vaccine as part of a one off catch-up campaign.
Becky said: “There is a big chance that if she had been vaccinated she would still be here.
“You always hear about meningitis but every child under five needs to be vaccinated.”