Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Home Stretch... Month 9 - November 2012

I'm preparing for the next step in my life, while enjoying the last few days of pregnancy!  Some of my plans, before baby arrives, include pampering myself, slowing down, focusing on myself, practicing inner peace, getting good rest, drinking lots of water and embracing what was...what is...and what will be! 

I started off the month with a weekly OB appointment, and discovered that I was GBS positive.  Group B Streptococcus is one of many different bacteria that normally live in our bodies.  Approximately one third of us carry GBS in our intestines without knowing.  It is estimated that 15-40% of pregnant women are carriers.  Women who are GBS positive can be given IV antibiotics during labour to prevent infection from passing to the newborn. 

The beginning of November...this 9th month of pregnancy...finally brought me some discomfort.  Pelvic girdle pain, sometimes called sacroiliac joint pain, and sometimes confused for sciatica.  During pregnancy, my body is producing a hormone called relaxin.  Relaxin softens the ligaments in my pelvis and other joints, which will help the baby to pass through during birth.  My pain has mostly been in my right butt cheek area, and feels the worst when trying to get out of bed, walking first thing in the morning or when making a sudden movement.  I am trying my best to embrace the pain, which is one of the signs that baby's head is engaging or moving down into the pelvis!  I get some relief by wonderful massages from Mike, feel good stretches/yoga positions (recommended by my doula), warm baths and sitting on an exercise ball!  I still cannot complain! 

Mike and I attended a Breastfeeding Me class on November 3rd.  This class is offered to women who are between 36-38 weeks pregnant, and prepare Moms-to-be to manage the first minutes, hours, days and weeks of breastfeeding. 

In early November, I started packing my hospital bags and began Christmas shopping.  Mike put the artwork and wall decals up in the nursery, and we are both so in love with the finished look!  The room is ready! 

On November 5th, I went to Seneca (YorkU campus) for a maternity photo shoot!  I spent a couple hours as the subject for Marc's photography students!  I can't wait to see their work.  A special thanks to Kathy for applying my make-up early that morning!  For someone that doesn't wear any, I was very happy with the subtle outcome! 

Lots happened on November 6th.  I met Ashleigh!  Ashleigh will be covering my maternity leave and we started training together today.  After only one day together, I felt confident that I would be leaving the program in good hands!  Still, it feels weird to know that I'll be leaving a place I've been coming to every day for the last 15-years!!  Bittersweet.  I was also spoiled today with a very generous gift from a co-worker, Jen!  I think she single-handedly stocked my baby inventory:  onesies, receiving blankets, baby blankets, wipes, washcloths, disposable diaper bags, cups/plates, books, and the list goes on.  Blessed and grateful!  I ended my day with a weekly OB appointment.  My blood pressure was measuring high, so I was sent for blood work and asked to do daily blood pressure checks until my next appointment.  I was also told to go to Labour & Delivery if my blood pressure was reading higher than 140/90. 

On Wednesday November 7th, I was 37-weeks and full-term!  Good thing because my blood pressure reading was 142/90 (on the left) and 155/90 (on the right)!  Up to Labour and Delivery I went, where I spent the entire morning.  I had a urine test (looking for protein) and a non-stress test.  A non-stress test evaluates the baby's condition (monitoring baby's heartbeat/movement and uterine contractions).  They also retrieved the results from Tuesday's blood work (which was to determine how my liver was functioning).  In the end, it looks like it may be a case of gestational hypertension.  Because my urine, non-stress and blood tests all came back normal, pre-eclampsia/toxemia was ruled out.  It was recommended (and prescribed) that I take meds (Labetalol) to lower my blood pressure until at least next week's OB appointment.  This was a struggle for me to accept.  My entire pregnancy had been going along so "text book" and the last thing I wanted was to introduce drugs into the baby's system.  I spent the entire evening researching this online, speaking to a nurse/friend, e-mailing with my Doula, discussing with Mike/family/friends and calling The Hospital for Sick Children-Motherisk.  The decision I came to that evening was to give it one last "natural" try before checking my blood pressure again Thursday morning.  So, I had a low-sodium dinner, rested all evening/night (on my left-side with my feet elevated), drank lots of water and meditated on all the positives. 

Woke up on November 8th with a blood pressure reading of 144/92 (left) and 150/99 (right).  I took the Labetalol.  By 1:00 p.m. that afternoon, my blood pressure was 130/80.  It was working.  Although I couldn't "feel" my high blood pressure, I know the numbers were dangerously high for me.  So, I instantly felt better in my head knowing it was back under control.  I also wanted Fetus-Reali to continue cooking, and without meds, I may have been facing early induction.

On November 10th, my hospital bags were fully packed and at the ready! 

On November 14th, I was 38-weeks pregnant.  My weekly OB appointment went well.  Blood pressure was normal, so we would continue on with the meds for at least another week.  My OB scheduled a biophysical for the following week as well.  The biophysical profile test is comprised of a non-stress test and an ultrasound.  The ultrasound looks at breathing movements, body movements, muscle tone and amniotic fluid.  A score of 0 to 10 will be given based on the information from both tests.  I'm looking forward to seeing Fetus-Reali again, as the last time was 20-weeks ago!!  I must make sure NOT to look below the waist.

On November 15th, I received Fetus-Reali's first Christmas gift from Jen S.  I so love the owl!
I spent the rest of the afternoon at Ashgrove Spa pampering myself for what I believed to be the last time before becoming a Mother.  I enjoyed a facial, mani, pedi and massage!  I felt brand new.  I hope I'm still glowing for my first meeting with Baby-Reali! 

Wonderful gifts from co-workers kept coming.  Thank you!  

On November 22nd, I had a biophysical ultrasound followed by my weekly OB appointment. How amazing it was to see Fetus-Reali again after 20-weeks!  I saw his/her tiny heart beating and saw him/her drinking in the amniotic fluid!  Must be thirsty, because my OB told me that my fluid was low and that my placenta had reached its maturity.  She also told me that Fetus-Reali was measuring small, at approximately 6-pounds.  The course of action she recommended was a non-stress test for the next morning, and induction in the next few days.  What overwhelming information to receive!  I called Mike and had a bit of a meltdown.  I scared him since I couldn't even communicate what had happened through my tears.  I must have worried him in the worst way, and felt horrible about it later.  Of course, he was my rock and supported me as always.  That evening, I got a call from Labour & Delivery informing me to come in for gel (to optimize/soften my cervix) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and then to return at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday for induction (IV oxytocin/oral prostin?).  I couldn't believe what was happening, and I didn't tell a soul.  My Doula, Christin, came over that night to debrief with me, listen to my feelings, discuss our new options and support us.  The 3 of us did a "fear release" HypnoBirthing script, and Mike and I felt much better after her visit.  I admit I was scared.  I have read about induction vs. the body being naturally ready to birth, and wonder if my labour will be much longer, if contractions will be more intense, if my chances of a C-section are greater.  However, I also know that being faced with induction does not mean my plans for a supernatural pain-free HypnoBirthing experience are lost.  Chin up!

On November 23rd, Mike and I headed to Labour & Delivery for a non-stress test.  Fetus-Reali is as "happy as a lark" the nurse told us.  Heartbeat was fast and strong!  He or she was moving around so much!  I needed to hear this more than anyone can know.  I needed this reassurance that all was well with Fetus-Reali inside of me.  Mike and I left happy and proud of our baby!  I came to the realization that today was my last day at work, but still, I couldn't tell a soul.  I don't know why.  I completed my Employment Insurance online, and put on my Out Of Office Alert.  I called my Mom that night.  I couldn't even tell her about the gel for the next day, but did report that I was being induced on Sunday.  I still didn't know what was holding me back?  Fear of the unknown, perhaps?

On November 24th, Mike and I stayed in bed for hours.  We put on the HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation CD and meditated on the positives.  We were so relaxed, that we both fell asleep for a couple more hours.  Would this be our last day together, just the 2 of us?  I was told to call Labour & Delivery before heading in, which I did.  The unit was busy and I was told they would call me back when they wanted me to come in.  Mike headed out for a bit of grocery shopping so we could stock up for the days ahead.  I stayed home to wait for the call, but kept myself busy with laundry, a bit of cleaning and some final packing.  We got the call and were told to come in at 7:00 p.m.  We did quite a bit of waiting before being seen (shift change).  Mike had a coffee from Tim's and we shared a donut.  I was monitored pre-gel and post-gel, about 30-minutes each.  The OB on-call was great!  Mike was with me the whole time.  I'm so glad he got a newspaper, comfortable reclining chair and television (we were watching Austin Powers).  We were out at 9:00 p.m. and on our way home!   

We woke up just before 6:00 a.m. on November 25th.  Mike slept soundly through the night.  I was up almost every hour...not in pain, but feeling a crampy...heavy...pressure-type discomfort.  But, in the morning, it was pretty much gone.  Would this be our birthing day?  Mike made me French Toast for breakfast (my favourite)!!  I called Labour & Delivery to confirm arrival for 8:30 a.m., and was asked to come in at 9:00 a.m.  At 9:15, we had another non-stress test.  After the test, my OB checked me.  The gel had worked.  My cervix was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced.

I was admitted to Room 2140 at 11:00 a.m.  I had my last bite to eat before baby!  At 12:00 p.m., I had blood-work taken, IV antibiotics for GBS, IV Oxytocin and fetal monitoring.  My OB said the average I was looking at was 12-14 hours of labour...even longer being that this was my first baby.  

Although the Nurse told me I was having contractions throughout the afternoon, I didn't feel any.  Around 4:00 p.m., I finally started to feel cramping/contractions, and called my Doula to come (she had a 40-minute commute).  The next thing I know, these cramps/contractions that I just started to feel became crazy intense.  I went from the bed to the birthing ball, and Mike was massaging my lower back...he wasn't allowed to stop.  The pain was severe and I moaned, writhed and vocalized (more like primal screaming) through each new, frequent contraction.  I was ready to throw in the towel, as I still thought I had hours to go.  My progress had yet to be checked since being admitted.  The OB came at that time.  I was 8cm dilated, and 10 cm dilated only seconds later.  We were having a baby!!!!!  I breathed my baby girl into this world at 5:16 p.m., only minutes after my Doula arrived.  

Welcome Lorelai Marie Reali!
6 pounds, 6 ounces of sweet perfection!

Soon after birth, pretty much everyone from my family and everyone from Mike's family was there to celebrate the birth of our first born!  I was feeling great!  I enjoyed Mike's homemade Tortellini alla Panna for dinner...delish!  

Mike and I didn't sleep that night!  We were in love and overwhelmed by emotion!  We had our baby girl, she was perfect, and all was right with the world!

I took a shower first thing the morning of November 26th and felt amazing!  I truly believe that having a natural birth was the main reason I was feeling so "normal".  I had no pain, and I was up and about to accept MSH visitors all day!  I couldn't wait to go home, but had to wait for blood tests that had to happen 24-hours after delivery.  That evening, Mike and I took our precious baby girl home!  A new adventure had begun!  We were a family!  We were so happy and so emotional.  All we could do was look at her with love, through happy eyes (and tears of joy).  I will never forget the magic of my wonderful pregnancy and childbirth.  I had the most wonderful nurse that cared for our new family, and Dr. Peters delivered my healthy bundle (who came out smiling)!  She has smiled everyday since, and so have I.  We have a daughter!  We did it!  

The journey continues...