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Lindsey is the creator of inspo&grace - a small town Nebraska girl who now resides in the beautiful Arizonan desert.

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Our Birth Story

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This is our story. No one else’s needs to be like it. This is not the right story or the best story, it is simply, ours.  And I respect and celebrate every single woman’s story exactly how theirs was, period.  

 

*Important to note and partial spoiler:  I did about 95% of my labor unmedicated, and I tell you how it REALLY felt. 

So, if ignorance is bliss, you might not want to read this (haha).

 

(Overview of my pregnancy.  You can skip ahead if you want, I won’t be offended 🙂 ) 

As you can read in the blog on our journey to pregnancy, I am always reminded that just getting pregnant was a miracle.  My pregnancy was as “typical” as one could be while working in a hospital during a global pandemic.  I was in the 2-10% of women diagnosed with gestational diabetes around 29-30 weeks. 

I will park here briefly.  Suddenly being diabetic was crazy.  Overnight I had to start pricking my sensitive fingers 4x/day, and eat incredibly healthy. I took a diabetes management class and learned how to keep my blood glucose levels low.  When many pregnant women indulge in cravings and sweets, I was eating cheese sticks, salad with only veggie toppings, meat, and plain Greek yogurt with blueberries for my dessert.  But outside of the medical facts of the diabetes, I started off terrified. The front of the info sheet I received went over risks:  high birth weight, reduced drive to feed after birth, lethargy, hypoglycemia at birth, increased risk of stillbirth, and more.  Then for me, I 

(Maternity picture by the incredible Kara Knapp)

suddenly went from being a very healthy 31 year old who taught spin classes, had run a marathon, and had no family history of any form of diabetes, to a 50% (!!) increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.  

I cried. And then I got laser focused. I thanked God for a “complication” that I could actually do something about (I know a lot of women have complications that they have no control over).  I kept my diabetes diet-controlled only. *As a note, there is NOTHING wrong with needing insulin if it is what is needed to help keep you and your baby safe and healthy! 

Once I got used to the part-time job of managing my diabetes, with immense help from my husband as my personal chef, I had one more little curveball thrown 

our way. I was in the 1 in 4 women who tested positive for group B strep:  a harmless bacteria that 25% of healthy women have at any time, but if passed to a baby during birth, can cause serious illness in the baby.

 

(Birth Story)

Now that I’ve shared a little about my pregnancy, here is where our birth story begins:

 

I really wanted to try to have an unmedicated birth.  I started off indifferent.  I had incredible support no matter what I chose from my husband.  And when I decided I wanted to try for unmedicated, he was all in:  birth class, breathing practice sessions and all.  We even interviewed an amazing doula, but ended up not using one:  1) due to the cost, and 2) it was so up/down if doulas were even being let into the hospital due to COVID.  I wrote up a birth plan, but at the very top I highlighted that the number one goal was for momma and baby to be safe no matter what that took.   I knew things might not go as planned, and we both made peace with that.  

 

I was 36 weeks and 5 days ( {36.5} – will write dates like this from now on) and my belly had visibly “dropped” by anyone’s standards.  I had a growth ultrasound and Alessi’s head was pretty low.  But as many women may know, that could mean

“any day now,” or it could mean absolutely nothing and you could go to 41 weeks.  At this point, we established that we would be induced at 40 weeks if she had not arrived by then.  She had been measuring perfectly at her ultrasounds, but the risk of her being bigger from my diabetes was higher, so we had a tentatively planned induction.

 

{37.2} was a Monday and this was one of the hardest days of my pregnancy!  I was at work and having intense and increasing pelvic pressure every single time I stood up from sitting.  I started getting braxton hicks contractions for the first time and worsening lower back pain and discomfort.  It was the weirdest thing, and honestly incredibly surreal actually feeling my body prepare itself (ie. stretching out, shifting around) for the birth.  But the symptoms were getting so intense, I kept thinking about how in the world I was supposed to do this for up to three more weeks while still working full-time.  It was hard having people tell me that for her sake, I needed  to go 1-2 more weeks.  They were right, and I knew that.  But I still was not sure I could             (Picture from my last week of work)

make it even through that afternoon!  That night I took a long bath and made peace with the “one day at a time,” and even the “one hour at a time” mindset.  That helped me immensely!

 

{37.5} I had an OB appointment at 7am.  Cervix check resulted in my membranes starting to thin out a little, and I was 1 cm dilated.  Per the heart rate doppler, Alessi was positioned very low.  I went home and took my dog on a short walk and felt like I may have had a mini water leak.  I was recommended to go to OB triage at the hospital, and called Jeff to keep him updated.  He left work to meet me with the hospital bag, but we both knew it just was not the time.  The fluid was not amniotic fluid, and we were sent home.  We spent that afternoon watching the rest of our Taking Cara Babies newborn class online, and I had a fun zoom baby shower thrown by my coworkers!  

 

{37.6} I lost my mucous plug, got a prenatal massage (BEST THING EVER HIGHLY RECOMMEND IF YOU CAN SWING IT! haha), and drank lots of raspberry leaf tea to help prep my body for labor (placebo or not, it was yummy and made me feel like I was doing something to help us out 🙂 ).  

(Picture from our “false alarm”)

{38.0} Jeff took a huge flight test for his pilot training and passed!  I had to pee 5 times in a 7 hour night of sleep, and tried to walk around Buy Buy Baby for 2 hours in hopes that would help kick-start something.  Nada.  (As a side, reading this back it’s easy to think “you were only 38 weeks sis! What was the rush?”  Ha!  But at the time I was so incredibly massive and uncomfortable, so 2 more weeks felt like 2 more years).  

 

{38.1} I worked a 10-hour day at the hospital.  

{38.2} At 12:56am I woke up to my water breaking.  This time it was for real!  Like dripping on the floor en route to the bathroom, and definitely not a drill.  I knew this was it, so I told my husband, called my OB triage line, and hopped in the shower to freshen up for what I knew would be a long next 1-2 days.  The bummer about testing positive for group B strep is that you have to go to the hospital much earlier so they can start you on IV antibiotics.  This is to ensure that the antibodies are keeping the bacteria at bay while your baby goes through the birth canal.  In my case, since my water broke, I basically had to go to the hospital immediately.  This REALLY threw out our “plan” to labor at home as long as possible, and all of the laboring techniques we had practiced assuming they would be done at home.  

4:15am we were finally admitted and moved into our labor and delivery room.  Because of COVID, any time a provider was in the room, Jeff and I had to have masks on.  Yes, that means the majority of my labor, and my delivery, I had to wear a mask.  We could not leave our room due to COVID, either, so no walking the halls.  My contractions were ~5 minutes apart, but at that point I honestly could not feel them, so Jeff and I got a little rest.  Getting my IV placed for the antibiotic was very, VERY painful.  I apparently have really fun veins and even once they got it to stay, every time the medicine went in, or even when they just did a water flush, it honestly felt like my forearm was on fire.  I will ashamedly *and* proudly admit that that was the only time I cursed my entire labor!  Only once the nurse left the room, of course :).  

 

Around 8:00am, I was up literally dancing around the room, walking up and down the two steps that go to the labor tub, bouncing on the labor ball, you name it, to try to get my labor to progress.  **One huge part of my birth story is that after ~8:30am, I could NOT sit down, at all.  It was so incredibly uncomfortable, and later painful to do so.  So from 8am until late that evening, I was walking or standing at all times.  This led to some significant exhaustion later in the day!                  (Picture from my early labor)

 

At 8:45am I agreeably received cytotec which was supposed to try to help soften my membranes in the next ~4 hours.  I started feeling the contractions more, even needing to stop and breathe through them, and they were about 3 minutes apart.  At hour 3 my doctor came in to talk to me.  I knew what she was going to say, and I am so thankful that I knew the “why” behind it.  I was not progressing fast enough.  Because my water broke, and ESPECIALLY because I was GBS+, the risk of Alessi getting an infection rose with each passing hour.  We needed to get things moving and get her out before the 24-hour mark.  So, pitocin it was.  

 

HOLY PITOCIN GUYS.  If you have ever had pitocin contractions, I now feel like we have an unspeakable bond.  Different from my early labor contractions that had a 1-2 second “build up/wave” to the peak, pitocin contractions are just IMMEDIATE pain.  No build up, no warning.  Within the hour I was having contractions every 90 seconds and they came on so fast I could not even mutter or gesture to my husband to get ready to put counter-pressure on my back.  [Which he did for every. single. contraction. all day long.  He was there every single second I needed him, and I am so thankful for how incredible of a partner he was to me.]  After a couple of hours of having extremely painful contractions every 60-90 seconds, I finally got permission to get in the labor tub.  I was given a few stern orders:  I had to keep my IV/forearm out of the water, and if I felt a sensation that matched the urge to poop (aka baby is coming out) I had to get out of the tub IMMEDIATELY (babies are not allowed to be born in the tub at this hospital).  The tub gave me relief between contractions since I was not having to stand, but in my experience, my contractions were equally as painful in the tub as they were out of it :(.  

 

I don’t remember how long I was in the tub for, but I got to a point where I had been having excruciating contractions every minute for hours and I was so, so exhausted.  I asked to get out and be checked.  My husband later told me that getting out of the tub, I could barely take steps on my own because I had almost no energy left.  My nurse and he both pretty much carried me to the bed.  So the verdict of the check?

 

You guys, I was only 2 CM DILATED and 70% effaced (membrane thinning out).  Dead serious.  If that doesn’t make one want to cry, I don’t know what will.  

 

So in my utter exhaustion and excruciating pain, I asked for an epidural.  But you know what’s funny?  You do not get one the second you ask for one.  Longest. 45 minutes. of. my. life.  They were having to push 2 entire bags of fluids through my IV because I had eaten breakfast and we had not prepared for an epidural.  Both the nurse and my husband were in utter fear that my vein was going to blow – and here’s why.  My contractions were ramping up to only 10-12 seconds between them.  I was making moaning noises (in my mind, they were in some form of “noooo please God noooooo not againnnnn”) that I am absolutely certain the entire hospital could hear.  I could not hold myself up anymore (again, thank you husband of the year for basically holding me upright for hours), I was puking, then dry heaving, and eventually started (apparently, as I’ve been told) hyperventilating.  Jeff said I was white as a ghost.  In my mind, “hyperventilating” meant that I was breathing, although I could sort of process that Jeff and my nurse were telling me nonstop to slow down my breathing.  At that point in my mind, it was either I was breathing or I would die, because every contraction truly felt like two knives were being inserted, twisted and pulled out of my back every 10 seconds.  There is no other way I can describe the pain.  Coming back to the IV issue, because my labor was going the way it was, the nurse was trying to get the fluids in me as quickly as possible so that I was ready for the epidural.  Also, she kept asking me if I wanted her to check me.  I think she knew (what I later realized) was happening.  But the thought of someone touching me any more than just putting counter-pressure on my back was absolutely out of the question at that point. 

 

Then the funniest thing happened.  The anesthesiologist came in, about five people got me to the edge of the bed, and they told me to “sit still” !!!! I am convinced that the humor in this can only truly be found if you have had pitocin contractions.  But even so, the needle went in, and, viola!  Sort of.  Only my left side went numb.  I could still feel every darn thing on the right side of my body.  Twenty minutes and some interesting repositioning later, my right side was finally mostly numb.  I still was dry-heaving a little, and was not really speaking to anyone, but it was the first time in hours that I felt actually present in the room.  The nurse checked me, and I was 9 ½ CM DILATED AND FULLY EFFACED!  Whatt!!?!  So here’s my conclusion, at some point in those 45 minutes waiting for the epidural, I started into transition (which happens from 8 to 10 cm/fully dilated).  I think my nurse knew that based on my behaviors during that time.  But if I had not gotten the epidural, I would have had nothing in me to push.  I had been depleted of any energy for hours.  

 

They sent Jeff downstairs to get a snack and take a short break, and I was given the opportunity to briefly rest.  Approximately an hour later, the night shift nurse came in to check and me immediately said “we’re having a baby right now!”  And there it was.  Lights flew on, more nurses came in, Jeff jumped off the couch and out of his slumber, my legs went into stirrups (thanks to everyone’s help because lower body numbness is crazy), and the doctor ran in fully ready to catch a baby.  As they were quickly telling me “how” to push, Alessi’s heart decelerated briefly.  In approximately 5 seconds, I got the verbal run-down that they did not want that to happen again, so x, y, or z could happen, but also this could end in a c-section.  I would not say that I had any known “mama bear” in me until that point.  But in that moment, all I could think was OH HECK NO I DID NOT JUST GO THROUGH ALL OF THAT just to have a c-section.  And a few pushes and 11 minutes later, Alessi was born :).  

(Picture:  ~20 minutes after birth)

I am at complete peace with our birth story.  In hindsight, I find some comfort in the thought that getting Alessi as “ready” as she was before I finally got the epidural, possibly I had helped avoid the need for a c-section.  I had hoped for an unmedicated birth, and rather, I had a fully-hospitalized labor with cytotec, pitocin AND an epidural.  And I am here to tell you that if a c-section would have been needed to keep my baby safe for delivery, then we would have fully embraced that as a part of our story, too.  Our “birth plan” was to get her out safely, and keep mama safe, no matter what it took, and so our story went “exactly as planned.”  <3 

 

Thank you for reading, friend!  

 

*I feel the need to sandwich this blog with the same statement I started with.  Every birth story is unique and beautiful.  Not one is right or wrong.  I pray that no woman ever has to feel guilt or shame in their story at the hands of someone else’s opinion.  So I’m here to say that this was simply, ours.  <3 

 

XOXO, 

Lindsey Sholtis

 

 

 

(My whole heart in one picture)

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