As she tenderly strokes her precious newborn’s velvety skin, happy tears tumble from Mikhailla Glossat’s eyes.
Elle Fitzgerald was born on March 12, and like all new parents, Mikhailla and her fiance Teddy are cherishing every moment with their little girl.
‘She is so loved,’ the 23-year-old mum tells New Idea, her voice rattling with emotion. ‘Elle has bought a lot of hope back into our world.’
The couple’s first-born son, Foxx, passed away at three days old after contracting a common infection called Group B Strep.
One in four women carry it in their vagina, but it can be deadly to babies if passed on during pregnancy or birth.
‘I was given a flyer about Group B Strep when I was pregnant, but I was told it wasn’t a big deal because if you are positive you get antibiotics,’ the Brisbane mum explains.
Foxx was the couple’s longed for rainbow baby – Mikhailla had already suffered two devastating miscarriages.
Thrilled to be expecting, Mikhailla documented her burgeoning bump on her Instagram page – delighting her thousands of followers.
She shared the moment she discovered she was expecting a boy, precious pictures of her scans and marvelled at the ‘kicks and little hiccups’ she felt from her unborn son along the way.
When Foxx was born after a drug-fee natural labour, the loving couple were on cloud nine. But sadly, their happiness was short-lived.
‘Foxx was coughing up a bit of mucus. I wasn’t worried at first because they said it’s normal,’ Mikhailla recalls.
‘They had suctioned him and checked all his vitals, and everything was really good.’
But as the hours ticked by, the new mum couldn’t shake the feeling something wasn’t right.
‘He was asleep, but still making this consistent noise and, occasionally, blood was coming up. He wasn’t settling.’
A paediatrician suspected Group B Strep and put Foxx on antibiotics immediately.
‘He said: “I think your son is really sick.” I remember thinking back to that flyer. I was so exhausted from birth I thought they’d put him on antibiotics and everything would be fine,’ Mikhailla says.
Test results revealed Foxx was ‘highly infected’. With his frantic parents at his bedside, he fought his heart out.
But the infection proved too much for his tiny body and he passed away after three days.
Breaking down, Mikhailla says: ‘I don’t know how we picked up the pieces. There were days I would get in the shower and just cry.’
But the grieving mum was determined Foxx’s death wouldn’t be in vain and began campaigning to raise awareness about the dangers of Group B Strep, as well as the importance of regular testing.
‘Group B Strep comes and goes,’ Mikhailla explains.
‘If I had known that, I would have been tested multiple times.
‘I think more swab tests through pregnancy should be done, starting from 24 weeks.’
Mikhailla says it’s not just birth when babies are vulnerable to the deadly infection.
‘I made contact with a woman who suffered a stillbirth six weeks before I lost Foxx, because Group B Strep got into her uterus. Some need antibiotics through their pregnancy to get rid of the bacteria.’
Though speaking about what happened to Foxx is incredibly painful, Mikhailla is already potentially saving lives.
‘I have known women who have made contact with me who, after 37 weeks, have gotten tested every single week.
‘One woman was negative at 37, 38 and 39 weeks, but when she got tested at week 40 she was positive. She did that after reading Foxx’s story.’
The pain of losing Foxx was overwhelming, but two months later Mikhailla discovered she was expecting again.
‘I was scared to embrace it because I knew that everything can change so quickly,’ she says.
But this time, Mikhailla wasn’t leaving anything up to chance. After consulting with her specialists, she decided to have a C-section and also take antibiotics during birth to eliminate even the tiniest risk. Baby Elle was also given antibiotics after she was born.
Describing the first time she laid eyes on her daughter, Mikhailla breaks down: ‘It was a very emotional moment, she looked exactly like Foxx. It was like living the whole year of my life again in a flash of memories.
‘Elle has bought a lot of hope back into our world.
‘If you can imagine the fuel tank being empty, and now it’s slowly refilling its way back up with pure happiness.’