It was a regular Thursday morning, Martha had had another troubled nights sleep, she had picked at her breakfast but drunk her milk. She had been teething off and on and so it came as no surprise that she wasn’t fussed with her food. She seemed quite hot so I stripped her down to her nappy, gave her some Calpol and we settled down to watch some Peppa Pig on the TV. She wanted to snuggle and so that’s what we did. We had been sat for about 10-15 minutes, I had my arm around her and she seemed content. She began curling in towards me and I thought maybe she was falling asleep, she was shattered after all. I looked down and realised instantly that something was wrong. Martha’s eyes were staring straight through me, her mouth was twitching and she was drooling badly.
Immediately, in complete distress I picked her up and phoned an ambulance. Whilst on the phone, giving our details and describing what was happening, Martha suddenly threw her head back, her eyes rolled up into her head and she began to convulse. Her mouth went blue and I began to fall apart. It was the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. The emergency operator spoke very calmly and focused me on what I needed to do. I lay Martha down on the floor, on her side (although it was very difficult, as she did not want to stay there.) He told me to listen to if she was breathing (she wasn’t.)
At this point kneeling on the living room floor, in my pyjamas, Peppa Pig still playing and watching my baby fighting to breathe I felt like the whole world was crashing around me. We live in a little country village, during the week days there is not a soul to be seen during the day, Aled works an hour away, there was no one to call and no one to cry for help to. I sat helplessly stroking Martha’s head and talking to her. Suddenly, she made an odd noise, jolted and was sick several times. She began to breathe again to my utter relief. She brought her hands up under her chin and sat twitching and jolting her head back gently.
By this point, I was trembling so severely I could barely function. Between talking to Martha and constantly asking how long the ambulance would be it felt like an age had passed, in actual fact it had only been about 10 minutes. Suddenly, a knock at the door and the first response had arrived, to the relief of us both Martha let out a cry and then proceeded to scream in distress for a full 20 minutes. First response took her temperature, which was chronically high and also took a blood sample from her heel to test her blood sugar (which was fine.) Shortly after, the ambulance arrived, I took Martha upstairs to clean her a little (we were both covered in vomit) and we were rushed to A&E. I phoned Aled; he came straight from work and met us in the ambulance bay. We were quickly rushed through A&E and sent to the children’s ward.
Martha was diagnosed with having had a Febrile Convulsion, which is caused by a very high temperature. It is not just a high temperature but one that rises incredibly quickly, which a baby’s body is not able to regulate, causing them to fit. Although it may look like the most horrific thing to witness, it does not damage the child in any way and the consultant described it as “the body hitting the reset button.”
That night I curled into Martha’s little cot bed; she was so distressed and could not settle. As she lay sleeping I watched her and overcome with the shock and realisation of what had happened to us that morning, I cried and cried.
Martha has made a good recovery, although her throat is still bad. She is low on energy and still off her food, but her fever went after 24 hours. No one had ever mentioned a febrile convulsion, I had never heard of it, I had no idea that it was something children did. Apparently, it is very common, especially amongst the 18 month to 5 year age range. I have struggled with the emotional aspect of what happened, blamed myself (even though I am aware I did nothing wrong) and am still haunted by the memory of it all. It has not been easy to write this post and go into all of the details (yet again – lots of people have asked what happened.) It is hard not to be constantly worried about Martha now, my nerves have been a complete mess since it happened, but I know in time I will feel better.
Have your little ones ever had a febrile convulsion?
Please share your thoughts…..