I’m a planner. Being a teacher lends itself to my belief that planning ahead is the best prevention to anything going wrong. So I planned ahead for my first birth down to the last detail.
I hired a doula, used my friend’s OB/GYN, and put a down payment for a birthing tub. I listened to hypno-birthing CD’s, I wrote 3 drafts of my birth plan, and had my hospital bag packed a month in advance. I was ready. Then my first son’s birth took a strange and difficult detour.
I knew he was big. I was a high risk pregnancy and had over 20 ultrasounds during my first pregnancy. His size resulted in me getting PUPPs a month prior to my giving birth. PUPPs is a prenatal rash starting around the belly and spreading outwards across the body. It’s common in first pregnancies with large babies or multiple babies. It’s an inflammatory response to the severe stetching of the skin that takes place in larger pregnancies-and I had it everywhere except the bottoms of my feet, my face, and the palms of my hands. I was miserable.
I remember sitting in a bagel shop on my birthday with my husband 3 days into the PUPPs wondering if I would go back to work and finish the school year. I got my answer that night. I couldn’t sleep-I sent my husband out to every health food store, the grocery store, and the pharmacy to find a cure. I had none. I couldn’t sleep as I was itching so bad. I was put on bed rest by my high risk pregnancy specialist during the next day’s appointment when I was in tears worry my baby was itching like crazy too. Thankfully it only affects the mom. Ben was fine and growing.
My due date came and passed. I soaked in multiple oatmeal baths everyday. Friends helped me close up my classroom for summer break. No labor.
Another five days passed and in my OB/GYN appointment my doctor began mechanically inducing me with a balloon. I was nervous. If this didn’t work they would use Pitocin to induce labor. My baby was late and my only relief from the PUPPs was birth. Nothing happened for two days. I was supposed to be admitted to the hospital at midnight on June 26th, but as the heat rose in Vegas women were going into labor left and right and there was no room for me. It was midnight and I was stuck waiting at home.
The next morning I didn’t feel Ben move and I started to get nervous as I waited for a hospital room to open. Then my contractions started and as they got closer to each other my husband and I drove to the hospital.
I had planned to have a beautiful, soothing, water birth experience for my son. That is not the way it turned out. I labored in the waiting room for an hour before I got a hospital bed. My doula came and we walked the floor. My contractions were close to each other but not powerful. The nurse informed me I needed to put on an oxygen mask and that Ben was having trouble getting oxygen, also his heart rate had increased.
As the night wore on we realized we would not need the water tub, I would be hooked up to monitors the rest of the night. They kept increasing my Pitocin to help Ben move along as he was in distress and needed to be birthed. My epidural had to be repeated as there was a hole in the catheter and the intensity of my contractions was extreme to say the least.
After 26 hours of labor my baby was born. Rather than being placed in my arms he was rushed to a NICU where he stayed for 5 days. I was hospitalized 3 rooms away from, conveniently enough, due to my PUPPs for the same amount of time. He was beautiful and he was alive, I was grateful for that. I was close to needing a C-section, and thank goodness that didn’t happen as I would continue to have complications.
My husband camped out with me in the hospital, and we attended every one of Ben’s feedings. I wanted to breastfeed, but the NICU staff were more concerned about measuring how much Ben was drinking and didn’t help me as much as I hoped. I was given pumping lessons and my milk was having a hard time coming in as I was on 3 antihistamines to help with my itching. Coming off the epidural and other medications had caused me to be very itchy and I scratched the dickens out of my legs!
Five days later we were allowed to go home together, and I was so glad to go home with my baby. For the next week family and friends visited and we had the traditional Jewish Brit Milah after being cleared by the pediatrician. On a return visit to the pediatrician I mentioned how I had developed large welts on my legs and she told me to see a doctor immediately. I went to the Quick Care by my house and they put me on Cephlax and sent me home. I developed a fever and began vomiting. Turns out I’m allergic Cephlax. It was the weekend and the doctor’s offices were closed. I contacted the dermatologist and he saw me on Tuesday, 5 days later was diagnosed with an illness I contracted from the hospital. I was told over the phone by a nurse the dermatologist would not treat me as I was post-partum and breastfeeding. She also told me to not even be in the same room as my baby!
My mom came to stay with Ben while I saw another dermatologist who had success at curing my illness in other patients. After two weeks of intravenous antibiotics I had a clean bill of health. I was able to start my life as a mom and go forward. There were tough times during this as you can imagine, but I never quit. You can’t. You have to do what you have to do for your baby. If I couldn’t hold him, I rested while I knew my mom was taking care of him. If I couldn’t nurse him safely, I pumped and dumped because I was determined I would be a breastfeeding mom. For some people faith in G-d and prayer gets them through these tough times. With this situation I believed in tomorrow. Tomorrow I would be one step closer to being with my baby.
Writing this today seems like a different life. Those couple of tough months would be followed by one of the sweetest times in my life. I fell in love like crazy with my baby and was so happy to be a mom. Every moment with Ben was so special and I treasured our time together. Before I knew it, nine months had passed and I saw a pink plus sign.