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Khanyi's story   — Khanyi's Mom

I live alone and was quite relieved when my sis and her hubby visited for a few days, given that it was around my due date. On Saturday, with a due date of the following Wednesday, I felt quite energetic so I suggested to my sis we all go and have a little party at my cousin's house. While doing the shopping for the party I felt decidedly uncomfortable and would have to stop and lean on something during the contractions. Nonetheless we had our great party (all five of us!). The contractions died down. Sis and her hubby were due to leave the country and go back to where they live early on Sunday morn. We were all sure I'd hold out a little longer and anyway mom was due to arrive monday evening. So it was agreed they should leave. But after the party sis was taken very ill and had unexplained feverish symptoms and shakes etc. Because of this illness they delayed their departure...and I believe her taking ill was something God meant to happen because I then went into sudden labour the following evening (Sunday). Had sis not taken ill and been forced to delay her trip, I would have been alone when I suddenly went into labour. I noticed a show and called Marilyn my midwife. Next thing waters were gushing and I was alarmed. Then heavy pains began to take over me and they were already 4 minutes apart. Sis who was feeling much better now made supper for me very quickly, I ate and we left for the hosp with me in great pain all the way. The drive was about 20 mins and I must have been contracting every 2 mins by the time we got there. I was so excited though. It was now around 11.15pm Sunday night. Marilyn settled me into my room and tried to relax me. I already had the shakes from the intensity of the contractions. Sis rubbed my back, gave me juice and made me as comfortable as possible. I felt a huge pressure down there and told Marilyn this. She looked surprised and did an internal. My heart sank when she told me I had ZERO dilation! Sis and I just looked at each other and decided to get some sleep. Marilyn asked me if I wanted to go home but I thought I would rather stay. The facility has rooming in so sis slept there with me and her hubby went back to the apartment.

Thruout the night I was in horrendous pain with each contraction. Somehow I never thought of requesting pain relief - I think I was in too much pain to remember! Besides I had decided beforehand to go as natural as possible. Marilyn checked on me maybe twice during the nite and again told me nothing was happening. I couldnt understand as the pain was maddening. At about 2am and again at 5am I took long walks in the corridor to try open my cervix. I had tea and a nice muffin at about 6am and felt a lot better, the contractions were even less intense which I thought strange after they'd been so strong. The morning progressed with other women coming in and giving birth while I sat/lay there. Marilyn checked me at 9am - I was 2,5cm. I was distressed, why so slow? The contractions picked up again with an intensity I cannot describe. A cousin of mine arrived and she would hold me on one side during the contractions while sis held me on the other side. The pain was so bad I would go into some kind of zone during the contractions and when each one was over would find myself shaking and trembling all over. I tried the bouncing ball it didn't really help. Marilyn checked me again at half ten - 2,5cm. She checked again at half 11 - 2,5cm. She made me get up and walk around the entire hospital building - I remained at 2,5cm. She induced me twice - I remained at 2,5cm. She then came and gently told me I may need a c sect as the situation wasn't good for baby whose heart rate had slowed down and was erratic. I burst into tears as I had prepared so much for a natural - perineal massage, raspberry leaf tea, exercise regime, breathing technique etc etc. I then pulled myself together, it was midday and the c would take place at 3pm, they could not get me in earlier than that. Between midday and 3 Marilyn checked me twice - 2,5cm. The contractions were maddening and some 45 seconds apart. I took a shower and waited. I was asked if I wanted pethidine and refused, after all I'd managed somehow all these hours and the c was now only 45 mins away. I lay there feeling like such a failure for needing a c, that I'd let my baby down somehow. They wheeled me into theatre. I had two horrible, horrible contractions just before they gave the spinal epidural and then the relief was great. I didn't enjoy the numbing feeling in the legs though. After that I felt a lot of tugging and pulling then suddenly a little cry. My world stopped for a moment as I saw them lift out a little bundle (they did not put a screen up at my request) and carry her over to the paediatrician to be checked. I looked over at her in total amazement. I could just see a little brown body and a mop of black hair. My baby! She scored 9 and 10 on her apgars and I could not have been prouder. They brought her over to me and I would have cried had I not been so choked up with emotion, too choked up to even cry. Was stitched up and went back to my room where Sis and cousin made a great fuss over me and baby. Then mom arrived she had just flown in and been picked up at the airport. Again a great fuss and much happiness. I thought this was the end of the story but...

Over the next few hours and into the night I noticed baby was breathing stangely and could not suck at all. The nurses yanked at my breasts and nipples to get her to latch, nothing. Nothing at all, no sucking reflex. She was grunting and her little chest was going up and down in a strange way. She would periodically stop breathing (apneoa) and start again with a grunt. Foam kept coming out her little mouth which we were told was from the amniotic fluid she had swallowed.

I hardly slept that nite as she would give a sad little cry every ten mins and then go back to grunting and strange breathing. Absolutely could not feed. Panic set in when they told me her blood sugar level had dropped and the paediatrician would have to be summoned. It was now 7am when the paed looked at her. I then got the message that something was terribly wrong amd she would need to be transferred urgently to a larger hospital, to an ICU. My heart broke in millions of pieces and I wept uncontrollably. I was still lying on the stretcher from the c sect, I made them remove my drip and catheter so that I could get up and ride with my baby in the ambulance. I was in horrible pain from the caesar as the pain medication was somehow not working.

My baby was put in an incubator and we arrived at the hosp in a rush. She was taken up to ICU quickly and then I was made to wait outside while they did their checks. I paced up and down altho the wound hurt so much and after quite a while they came back and told me she had septicaemia. I fell apart, it just sounded so bad. I stayed the whole day at hosp and early evening the results of some tests came back. My baby had group b strep septicaemia; it had killed a baby in that very same ICU ward two weeks before. The next day they did a bacterial count. Normal levels fall between -2 and 12, anything above that indicates abnormal levels of bacteria in the body.

The results came back from the lab. My child's bacterial level was 677.

It will take too long to tell you what happened from there but the short version is that she was there for 14 days with a drip in each foot, a drip in each hand, a ventilator pipe going down one nostril into her lungs and a feeding tube going down the other nostril into her stomach. Periodically the drip administering the penicillen to kill the bacteria would be moved onto her scalp because her hand would be swelling up too much. Twice, drips were put into her scalp. She had fluid taken from the brain to check for meningitis, a common consequence of group b strep in newborns. She also had a lumbar puncture. She was put on an oscillator; a regular ventilator was not giving her enough help. The oscillator shook her little body day and night, literally keeping her alive by shaking her organs into action.

That is all in the past. God healed my baby of that horrible infection and today she is at home with me, 7 weeks old on easter monday and a happy gurgling baby. There is nothing that could have prepared me for what has happened in my life over the past 2 months. The baby's father ran out on us when she was 10 days old and we haven't heard from him since. I am at home with my baby I have a great nanny for her and I am back at work.

I apparently have cephalic pelvis disproportion which is why my pelvis never opened up and the cervix never moved beyond 2,5cm dilation. I had rheumatic fever when I was 9 yrs old and it turns out something I had all those years ago affected my pelvis' ability to open up during childbirth a whole 20 years later. AndÉI turned out to be a gbs carrier.

The priest from my church came and prayed over my baby, I prayed for her at least and hour and a half every day and people were praying all over the place for her. I truly believe God healed her and I truly thank Him for anointing the work of the medical professionals so that everything they did was right and every decision they made was the correct one. My baby was born on World Prayer Day - this is no coincidence. My baby and I are now both happy and healthy, I look at the scars on her hands, head and feet from the drips and feel a little sad but I know she doesn't remember it. Her hair is growing back where it was shaved to put the drips in her scalp.

That is my birth story and traumatic though it might have been, the birth of my daughter has brought me nothing but joy and happiness and has strengthened my faith in God. Children are indeed a blessing from Him and I am so thankful I was allowed to keep my blessing, that she was not taken from me. Moms, give thanks for your babies under all circumstances, when they keep you up at nite give thanks because they are there to keep you up. When they cry and wail give thanks because they are there to cry and wail. They are making noise - that is a sign of that priceless gift - life

Motherhood has correctly been labelled the most difficult job in the world but it is also the most blessed and rewarding. I feel wonderful for being a part of bringing my baby into the world and she will always be incredibly special to me for being such a brave little girl and enduring so much at such a tiny age.

GBS is not unconquerable. The more we educate people about it the better. Why was I not tested? Why had I never heard of it? We can reduce the number of mothers who will sit asking themselves these painful questions — possibly after losing a beautiful baby — if we educate and lobby about GBS relentlessly.

God bless you all.

Inonge and Khanyi

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