Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Still surviving

I'm so excited to be a part of this brand-new blog! I'm new to the world of blogging, but NOT new to the world of preeclampsia, which is why this blog is so important. Thanks to all those who put this together for us all to meet and share.

Preeclampsia has changed my life forever. Period. I have traveled and continue to travel on new roads that I never even knew existed before being twice afflicted with this horrible disease. Before the second week of August of 2001 I had never been hospitalized for any reason...........never. Never ridden in an ambulance. Never had an IV. Never had surgery of any kind. Never had high blood pressure. By the END of the second week of August, I had done all of those things and my 29-week-long pregnancy was ended by a c-section delivery. Luckily, my son and I survived our bout with severe preeclampsia. The baby weighed 2 lb. 15 oz. at birth (1345 grams) and was in NICU for 6 1/2 weeks.

Since the little that I knew about PE told me that it's most common in first pregnancies, I figured I was pretty safe in getting pregnant again but being able to "escape it" this time. It was not to be. When my oldest had just barely turned 2, I became pregnant again and was so excited at the prospect of a long, healthy pregnancy this time! Instead, I became one of the small small percentage of women who have repeat incidences of preeclampsia.........and who have it earlier and more severely that second time. Symptoms began at about 20 weeks. I was in and out of the hospital for monitoring, and then put onto strict home bedrest. By 24 weeks, I was hospitalized to stay, and told that my condition was worsening so quickly that delivery would probably be imminent. My son's growth in-utero was being restricted due to the compromised function of the placenta (an effect of the preeclampsia), so his estimated weight at this point was less than a pound. Doctors told us that his chances for survival, if born in the next day or so, were practically nil.

However, by some miracle we were able to hang on for 24 more days, to 27 weeks gestation and a birth weight of 1 lb. 9 oz. (700 grams). My health was monitored around the clock, as was my son's, and we were finally forced to deliver when my BP started deteriorating and I was struck by Bell's Palsy (although doctors originally thought I'd had a stroke--another potential occurrence with PE). Again, my son and I were miracle survivors of PE, and the baby came home after 11 weeks in NICU.

Why do I say we are "still surviving"? Because that's how I have come to look at it. As I said first, my bouts with PE have changed the direction of my life forever. There are many sorrows, griefs and losses even for those of us who DO survive it..........loss of the "normal" expected pregnancy experience, "normal" delivery experience, getting to take your baby home with you on time and healthy, etc. These losses will stay with me, but I am making a conscious choice to keep on surviving by trying to use what happened to me for GOOD and to help others. Most of us don't know anyone in "real life" who even knows what PE is and that it wasn't our fault. By working online however, I try daily to spread the word around the world about preeclampsia awareness and (hopefully) make the PE journeys easier for others because they don't feel alone. In this way, I survive and I even thrive, and so do my sons!


Jen said...

Beautifully stated Jen! said...

I hope you don't mind - I have posted your link to my website after stumbling across your page. I was originally doing some research on hormones for babies with small growth in the uterus for our son(in our case caused by pre-eclampsia). I think the work you are doing is great and really hope it helps as many people as it can. Thank you for getting me to think about the effects it has had on me.