The best advice I received about pregnancy was… “be prepared to not be prepared!” Even the best “plan” can change at a moments notice, and that was definitely my experience. My 36th week started off with an appointment with my midwife for my Group B Streptococcus (GBS) test. It is estimated that up to 30% of pregnant women have this naturally occurring bacteria in their vagina and while this bacteria is typically harmless for mom, this bacterial infection can be passed to baby during delivery, resulting in serious complications. This is why pregnant women that test positive for Group B strep are routinely given IV antibiotics during labor and delivery. Therefore, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends this screening on all pregnant women between 35-37 weeks. If GBS is detected, mom will be given IV antibiotics during delivery. Thankfully for me, no needles were involved . . . just a simple swab! During my appointment, she also did an exam and discovered that I was dilated to 1 cm. She recommended I discontinue any strenuous physical activity (tennis, etc) and just stick to walking. She said women can be dilated for weeks before delivery, so I wasn’t concerned when learning that I was slightly dilated.
The next afternoon I came home from work and bent over to check a leak we had repaired that day on our kitchen sink. The leak was fixed, but the moment I stood up my water broke. Not a trickle but a full gush! Needless to say, I was shocked. I won’t lie, a bit of panic set in as I realized that she was on her way! I tried to remain calm, and called the midwife. She informed me that because I was not 37 weeks I would not be able to deliver at the birth center, as planned. Also, because my GBS test results were not back, I would need to have an IV of antibiotics throughout my delivery as a precaution. At this point, I had two options, deliver at home or go to the hospital. I was less than thrilled with either option, and felt my emotions rising. My great plan was unraveling faster than I could keep up! With Pepper’s safety in mind, we made the collective decision to go to the hospital.
As we headed into the hospital my mind raced as the reality of the situation began to settle in. I was going to have a baby! Contractions began to increase in length and pain, and I labored throughout the night. I felt grateful for the knowledge I had gleaned from my birth class, and tried to move around and be as active as possible with my IV tower in tow. Things seemed to be progressing well, and I had dilated naturally to 7 cm by 7am. The pain was bearable, and I thought to myself, “I’ve got this!” My confidence started to diminish as the hours continued to pass without progress, and the pain got stronger and stronger. My husband was a great coach and continued to give me encouragement that I could do it, and do it drug free!
My midwife acted as my doula as well, and was a great advocate for my natural childbirth plan. I was grateful to have her there, because as the hours stretched I did begin to feel pressure from the doctor to speed things along with the use of Pitocin. Also, as the pain began to increase and the contractions got closer and closer, the possibility of pain relief started to become very appealing. The midwife respectfully reminded me that ‘we’ were almost there, and recommended that we try the bathtub for natural relief. As a sat in the tub, the feeling of weightlessness was so relaxing and allowed me to transition into “labor land.” The time flew by, and I even nodded off a bit. My husband called in his pinch hitter, my mom, to relieve him so he could take a nap. It had already been over 30 hours since we had slept. At the 24 hour mark of labor, I had another check, and I was finally at a 10. Let the pushing begin!!
Honestly, I was ecstatic to push. Finally, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. As my ‘team’ (my delivery doctor, my nurse, a NICU nurse, my midwife, my mom, and my husband) gathered around my vagina, I almost laughed out loud remembering that the plan had been for it to just to be my midwife and husband in the room. I was so eager to push that my “team” had to remind me to breathe, and use the contractions to help me bear down. It felt so good to push through the pain! After only 18 minutes, Ms. Pepper joined us : October 1, 2014 at 5lbs 13 ounces, and 19 ½ inches long. As they laid her on my belly, time seemed to just stop. It was the not only the most incredible moment of my life, but also the most rewarding. I was so proud of my body! Luckily for us, we were at the hospital. Before I could even catch my breath, they were cutting the cord and the nurse was taking Pepper away. She was not breathing properly, and the NICU nurse (required at all pre-term deliveries) swooped in and got to work. Pepper was taken over to the NICU, and remained there for 12 days. She had a lung infection and was in an incubator for 7 of those days, and then the remaining time we had to focus on feeding, weight control, and temperature regulation. She was a trooper! Thankfully, I was able to pump and provide breast milk for her the entire time. I was so grateful for the Nursing Blend supplement and Nursing Time Tea during these first couple of weeks to help encourage my production, and I still use it to this day! Our postpartum spray, Sitting Pretty Soothing Spray, was also a must have in my hospital bag. As I was healing, it was so nice to have for ‘maintenance’ during the long hours spent in the NICU. The size of the spray made it easy to cart along, and provided some much needed relief.
We were blessed that Pepper’s stay in the hospital was short lived. Even though it felt like FOREVER, it was nothing compared to the 4 weeks we were told to anticipate. The day we got to bring her home was the second best day of my life, and I spent the next 10 weeks loving on her as much as possible. Now a new chapter begins as I venture back to work, and begin the ever-changing balancing act of being a working mom!