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This Blog Post is Brought to You By GBS (Or, More Fun with Acronymns)

Once I have my healthy, beautiful baby in my arms, I’m sure my memories of pregnancy will all be delightful. It’s such an exciting time, filled with celebration and anticipation, of individual and collective evolution (woman to mother, couple to family). Physically, pregnancy’s been fascinating, and far easier than I expected. Sure, I’m tired, and my back hurts… and yeah, I have that varicose vein in my right leg, but I’m almost there, so I don’t care.

I’m gonna state for the record, because in some way this is part of what makes pregnancy so personal, real, and even special, that the experience has also been intermittently terrifying, and pretty reliably nerve-wracking (not to a level I can’t handle, but nervewracking nevertheless). From initial screenings for weird genetic disorders, to bizarre symptoms prompting suggestions of other weird and dangerous maladies, I’ve felt for most of this ride like the end is far from sight, and like I ultimately don’t have a ton of control over its outcome. Of course I’ve taken care of myself and the baby inside me in every way I can. But ultimately, I don’t have a lot of control over this process. Perhaps coming to terms with that is a part of the journey, too.

Imagine my surprise (I wasn’t) when a nurse called last week to let me know I’d tested positive for GBS (Group B streptococcus), which they routinely screen for at 35 weeks. All women carry this some of the time, and a lucky 30% carry it during labor and delivery. We’d have no reason to know about it, as it comes and goes on its own without nuisance. The caveat is that if the baby catches it during vaginal delivery, there can be complications… like meningitis… in the baby.

The nurse said it’s nothing to worry about. Clearly, they deal with this 30 percent of the time; they simply administer antibiotics via IV during labor and delivery, and that takes care of it. Since I’m scheduled for an induction at 39 weeks (had an unsolicited blood clot a few years ago, so I’m not going to be allowed to linger past that point), I’ll have an IV anyway. She said if my water breaks before that point, I need to get in there a bit faster so they can hook me up and reduce the chance of transferring the GBS to the baby. I asked if the babies are tested after delivery to ensure they haven’t contracted anything, and she said they aren’t, which I guess is a good indicator but sounds to me like license to fret for the next six months about whether late-onset symptoms might overtake my precious bundle of joy.

I was hoping to beat my induction date and have a shot at an all natural delivery (Erin did it!). Now I want to get this party started, in as controlled a setting as possible, and stat. I have a doctor’s appointment today. I’ll be asking these questions: Why is the baby not tested after delivery? Why (please-for-the-love-of-God-give-me-a-good-reason-not-to-worry) is this not considered a big deal when meningitis kills full-grown adults? And what’s the soonest we can schedule the induction for?

I know on some patient, rational level that my baby will be here soon (very soon) and that he’ll be fine. This will be just one more thing that ultimately didn’t amount to much. But in the meantime, my mama-bear instincts are kicking in full-force, and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to protect my kid. Other than trusting the doctors, though, and mustering courage, I’m not sure what that is.

Did any of you test positive for GBS? Speak up, oh brave and wise 30 percent! How’d it all go down in labor and delivery, and how are your little ones faring now? Healthy and robust and giving you hell? I sure hope so. Do tell.

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