After facing her own deadly health crisis head on, Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton found out her new baby had meningitis....
All Michelle Heaton’s worries about her own health were swept aside as she heard doctors give her the news any parent dreads ‘your baby has meningitis’.
The Liberty X star has already endured a traumatic two years during which she was diagnosed with a deadly cancer gene, had both breasts removed to minimise the risk of developing it, and undergone surgery to fit a heart monitor following blackouts caused by an irregular heartbeat.
After such an emotionally draining period she was understandably elated when she gave birth to her son, Aaron Jay, in February, her second child with her husband, Hugh Hanley. They also have a daughter, Faith, who’s two.
Yet five weeks ago, the family’s happiness was rocked again when Aaron became sick. “He just couldn’t keep any milk down and I was very worried and took him to A&E,” says Heaton, 34, who’s cuddling her 10-week-old son as she speaks.
“Within minutes of our arrival he was rushed to a room where they administered a lumbar puncture on his spine and diagnosed him with meningitis.
“With everything I’ve been through mentally and physically, nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to your baby being sick.
“ All I could think was ‘please, let him be OK’.
“It was the most terrifying 24 hours of my life while we waited to see whether he would respond to treatment. Luckily he has fully recovered.”
Meningitis can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. There are two types, bacterial and the less serious viral meningitis, contracted by Aaron. The latter is estimated to affect around 6,000 people a year.
“Aaron didn’t have any of the classic symptoms like a fever or a rash but just call it mother’s instinct, I knew something was wrong. I believe it’s so important to listen to your gut feelings and act on them,” she says.
It also emerged that her son suffers from gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), a condition where stomach acid leaks into the oesophagus.
Although she has to wait to find out whether Aaron will have any lasting effects from the meningitis, she has been reassured the chances are low.
“Of course, only time will tell whether he has been physically or mentally affected, but he’ll have regular tests as a precaution and we’ll just treat him as a normal baby,” she says.
Michelle is supporting Yogurt Week (May 19-25).