A Birth Story: Postpartum Infection

I always knew I wanted my children close in age and M (hubby) and I decided that when J (baby # 1) turned a year we would start trying. I am very blessed to conceive quite easily, both times I got pregnant on the first try. With that said, I wanted my kids to be 2 years apart, they are in fact 20 months apart. I wanted to give myself that extra cushion when trying, but clearly that wasn’t necessary.

My second pregnancy was a breeze, I wasn’t nervous at all, and I felt like “been there done that,” the entire time. It went extremely quickly since I was busy with my 1 year old! Those twinges that freaked me out during my first pregnancy seemed normal to me the second time around. The only thing that I was extremely nervous about was the delivery, specifically tearing. I had 3rd degree tearing with my first and an awful recovery. I couldn’t imagine having a 20-month-old, a newborn, and the excruciating recovery that I had with my first. My Doctor assured me that typically the second is much easier on your body, and in my grandmother’s words, “the road was already paved.” At my 36 week appointment my OB did the routine exam and swabbed me for Group B strep. I went on my way and when I came in for my 37 week appointment, they gave me the results back that I was negative for Group B. Wonderful. Except this wasn’t a concern of mine.

At around 37 weeks I started feeling so much pressure, something I hadn’t felt during my first pregnancy. At 38 weeks my doctor assured me that everything was okay and that the baby was very low and I would perhaps deliver a bit early. When I heard that, I was determined to get the baby out! I started drinking Red Leaf Raspberry tea, bouncing on a ball, I even went to a trampoline jumping park! By 39 weeks, I asked for a membrane sweep at my weekly appointment because I was so uncomfortable. I was only about 1cm dilated, but I knew that could change in an instant. The days came and went, clearly the membrane sweep didn’t work. I did lose my mucus plug though so I knew baby boy was coming soon!

My sister in law was coming in on that Sunday (5 days before my due date) to watch the soon to be big brother J, while M and I were in the hospital. On that Sunday night, we went out to dinner to celebrate a belated birthday dinner for M. I ordered Eggplant Parmesan, because someone told me eggplant helped induce labor (I told you I was doing it all!) The night went on, I was very uncomfortable but no more than I had been for the past 2 weeks or so.

The following morning M, got ready for work, helped me out of bed to go to the bathroom (yes, I seriously needed help at this point) and kissed me goodbye at 6am, the same thing he did every day. As he was walking down the basement stairs to get his car out of the garage, my water broke. I called him, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to waddle fast enough to catch him before he left for work, and he came back upstairs. We called the doctor’s office at 9am when they opened and told me to come get checked out, and that my doctor was actually on call at the hospital that day. I really didn’t want to go in, I knew from my first pregnancy that my water did break, and I wasn’t having contractions yet, and I wanted to labor at home (same exact scenario as my first pregnancy). Like the first time, I rolled my eyes and went in to get checked out. They confirmed that my water did break and told me to head over to the hospital to be examined by my own doctor.

When I got to the hospital, I was barely 3cm, my doctor said she was going to give me a little while to start contracting on my own but then she was going to induce me. I begged her to let me go home and go into labor naturally and labor at home. She agreed but told me she was inducing me 12 hours later to avoid infection, since my water broke. I also, didn’t say goodbye to J, I didn’t have my hospital bag, and I didn’t make my bed! I spent the better part of the day laying on the couch aggravated that I wasn’t progressing. We ended up going back to the hospital around 6pm (12 hours from when my water broke) and I was induced at 8pm.

M, my mom, my mother in law and I spent the next 2 hours watching The Bachelor (obviously since it was a Monday night in February). By the end of The Bachelor at 10pm I was unable to breathe through the contractions. At about 10:30 I was screaming for the epidural and got it soon thereafter. After The Bachelor, my mom and mother in law were starving so my mother in law offered to go pick up food from the 24 hour diner down the road. They called in the food and at about 10:30 she left. (Side note: both my mom and mother in law were in the room for both of my deliveries and I truthfully couldn’t have done it without them, along with the most supportive husband ever!)

As soon as the epidural was in, I was screaming, SCREAMING, that something was wrong and that I needed to poop. The nurses assured me that nothing was wrong, and that I probably was ready to start pushing. (This was new to me, I didn’t have this feeling, which you often hear about, at all with my first). The doctors couldn’t even get the catheter in, the baby was crowning. They brought my doctor in and what seemed like a million nurses and said I needed to push. My mom began hysterically crying because she was scared that my mother in law was going to miss the birth of her second grandchild because she (my mom) was hungry. We tried calling her, but in true G (mother in law) fashion, she didn’t pick up her phone! She was back in at 10:55 and walked in to a head hanging out of my vagina. Out came baby M after only 2 pushes at 11pm.

“Wow, what an amazing delivery,” I thought. Such a different experience than I had with my first. Only 1st degree tearing. Baby M latched right on, and life was good. My father and father in law came at about midnight for a little while. At about 2am they began to move me out of the delivery room and into the maternity room.

My memory of the next few hours is a bit foggy as I had been up for over 24 hours at this point. Baby M became inconsolable, he wouldn’t latch, he didn’t want to be held by me, M, or the nurse. In the meantime, I was getting checked every hour or so by the postpartum nurses to see if my bleeding was subsiding. They noticed that I had spiked a fever. Something pretty common, but somewhat concerning. They took the baby’s temperature, he was fine, yet still inconsolable. The nurse told us she was going to take him to the nursery, sometimes the heated beds soothe them. I am all for Mom’s sending their children to the nursery so they can get rest while in the hospital, but it wasn’t for me. I wanted my baby to stay with me. He was hours old. I wanted to do skin to skin. I wanted to nurse him. But nothing was working. I let him go.

M and I fell asleep as we had been up for a ridiculous amount of time at this point. About an hour later, a Neonatologist walked into the room and told us that something was wrong with Baby M’s breathing and that he is in the NICU and they were doing testing. Mind you, we were woken up from 1 hour of sleep, completely disoriented.  We said, “okay.” About 15 minutes later M was determined to figure out what was going on. It turns out our postpartum nurse heard that the baby was crying with a “gurgling noise” and knew something was wrong. I am eternally grateful to her.

The next 48 hours were terrible. Baby M, was put on a course of antibiotics for this infection that was spreading. I couldn’t hold him, he was in an isolate, hooked up to machines, oxygen in his nose, IV’s in his arms, and bracelets on his legs. For me, it was extremely difficult to look at. I was supposed to be holding him, doing skin to skin, breastfeeding, loving my hours old baby. The nurses and lactation consultant knew I was determined to breastfeed (I breastfed my first for a year) and gave me a hospital grade pump to use every 2 hours while I couldn’t actually breastfeed baby M. This in itself was exhausting and awful, as I HATED pumping. The next morning the Neonatologist told us they had to do a spinal tap to find out if the infection spread to the spine, and therefore possibly to the brain (causing detrimental damage). So many questions, so many fears, so many unknowns. Thankfully we found out it did not spread to his brain, but that the infection did spread to his lungs, and now had to be treated for Pneumonia. We still at this point didn’t know what the problem was. About 24 hours later, after growing the bacteria, they identified the infection as Group B Strep. “Group B Strep? How is that possible, I tested negative for Group B Strep at 36 weeks.” Apparently, Group B Strep could have been dormant in my body at 36 weeks and colonized after the testing was done, or it was a false negative and I had it all along. (For those who don’t know, Group B Strep is not like Strep throat. It is an infection that does not affect the mother, but when passed to the baby during delivery it can cause harm, clearly. If I did indeed test positive for it at my 36 week test, I would have been given antibiotics during the delivery which would had been in turn passed to the baby, and we would all have been in the clear!) Whatever the reason, they thankfully now knew what course of treatment they needed to take to cure my 48 hours old baby. Baby M spent the next 8 days (10 days total in the NICU) while I stayed in the Mother’s Room at the hospital. I fortunately was given a room to stay in, after I was discharged from the maternity ward after 2 days, since I was breastfeeding. Something else I am extremely grateful for. Although I desperately wanted to be home with my big baby, I knew Baby M needed me, and I knew I wanted to be there to breastfeed around the clock.

It was the hardest 10 days of my life. I had the most amazing and “easy” delivery, followed by the worst 48 hours of my life. And then, I had to stay in the hospital, away from my first born, whom I had never been away from more than a few hours (if that) at a time. All this time, I was barely able to bond with baby M, since he had to stay in his isolate, except during nursing sessions, which I was able to start once they diagnosed him.

The day had finally come, I was able to bring baby M home, to meet his big brother J, and doggy D! All went well – we were a family of 4. The next morning big brother J woke up with an awful virus and 102 degree fever. Baby M and I had to stay quarantined in my bedroom to ensure that he didn’t get sick from his big brother (doctor’s orders). This required showers and outfit changes in between handling the two children. It was the second worse week of our lives. BUT we lived through it and here I am telling our story.

Besides the awful, traumatic event I experienced with baby M, I also was devastated that the 2 days I initially planned to be away from big brother J, turned into 10. I saw him twice during those 10 days. I craved the love and affection that I had with big brother J, and I also felt like I traumatized him. He was only 20 months, he had no idea what was going on, which I later realized was a good thing. At the time, I thought he missed me and needed me, his mommy! Luckily his Aunt K, and all his other supportive family was there by his side every day.

I also realized after these series of traumatic events how much my husband does for us. He was my rock through it all – since I was 17 years old, always has been, always will be.


Meet Carla L

About SarahTBD

A mom trying to survive this beautiful disaster we call life with a family. Some days I rock it, some days I just survive it, some days are rough and some days I can’t get enough. I work part time from home trying to juggle the work hours with the everyday life with two children.