Today' post is from D'Arcy, a fellow preeclampsia survivor. Her story may sound familiar to you, if you are a survivor too. Most of us can recount how we didn't quite understand the implications and consequences of preeclampsia until the birth experience was over. The good news is that even when life throws us a "preeclampsia curve ball," that we still learn and grow from the experience. Even with the bad comes some good.
My story doesn't start when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, which didn't officially occur until 30w1d. My pregnancy had a pivotal moment, and that moment occurred at 7am 24w5d. That morning I awoke to the phone ringing. I jumped out of bed and ran to the phone. Before I knew what had happened, everything became a blur, and I woke up with a terrible pain in my head and the phone buzzing because it was off the hook. I had been passed out for a little over two minutes, and my head hurt because I hit it on a bench in my bedroom as I fell. I had leg and foot pain and been exhausted since I was about 16w, after all I couldn't go Christmas shopping because my legs hurt so much. Many people told me that having my legs hurt, passing out, and swelling were normal in pregnancy. Even my OB wasn't concerned early in my pregnancy or even after passing out, after all the baby checked out fine and my blood pressure was normal. Although during that appointment, he sat there and looked at me and said we have to get to 28 weeks, it is our magic number.
As the weeks progressed from the day I had the fall, I began to swell, not just a little ankle swelling, but edema that made it impossible to wear shoes. I went from a 7 1/2 to 10 flip flops. Again people telling me this is normal, just buck up. Around 28w, I was in for a visit with my OB, and he said that my blood pressure was high. I had gained too much weight in between visits and needed to restrict my diet to low sodium and prepare my employer that there was a good chance that I wasn't going to be able to work until I was full term. He ran labs and personally called to tell me that everything still looked good, but he felt things were going to change. During the next week, one of the guys in my office walked in and looked at me and said, "you are huge, what has happened to you?" A week and a half went by, I had another visit, it was a Thursday(29w6d). He looked at me and said, "you are done." I was like "WHAT?" He said "You are now on bed rest until you deliver your baby."
Well the Superwoman that I am or thought I was went to work the next day, it was a Friday and I needed to be able to turn over all of my work. After all I manage a Real Estate team, and I had about 4 dozen homes in the pipeline; I was the only person that knew what was going on. What I meant to be a half day turned into a full day, and I was totally exhausted, panting, and limping from the pain in my legs.
Saturday (30w1d), I woke up and took my blood pressure. It wasn't good: 156/112. So I laid down to rest and it seemed to get better, that was until I would sit up and it went higher. Then while sitting in bed I saw shooting stars, I knew that I needed to go to the hospital at that point. Being stubborn and not truly understanding the seriousness of the situation, I told my husband that I wanted to get dinner because I knew I wasn't getting out of the hospital, but thought it wasn't a big rush to get there because they were just going to admit until I delivered in June. HELLO IT WAS APRIL!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Upon my arrival to the OB Triage, I quickly learned that I was not going to go home and that not only my life was in jeopardy, but also the life of my daughter. Her ultrasound showed that she was much smaller than she should be, the amniotic fluid was low, and she was at risk, due to me having preeclampsia and the early stages of HELLP. The next 48 hours were filled with Mag delusions, steroid injections, oxygen, hydrotherapy, and consults with my Peri and the Neonatologist. I remember the neonatologist saying to me that he hoped he would never see me again, and the peri told me that our goal was 35 weeks and to make myself at home because I wasn't leaving. Well, Monday(30w3d) arrived, and my OB came in to talk to me about the latest ultrasound. The fluid had dropped even more, the baby was small and weak, and I had gained 12 pounds overnight. All of the doctors agreed that I needed to have a c-section as soon as I reached the steroid window, which would be the following morning. The baby could not tolerate a vaginal birth and if we waited more than 24 hours the outcome would not be good. My window started at 2:30am, and my daughter was born April 19th, 2005 at 5:30am, weighing 1000g(2pounds 3.5oz) 14 1/2 inches long.
The following week was a blur because I was so sick. I was released 5 days after the birth of my beautiful little girl. She remained in the NICU for 47 days. My little girl was a fighter from the start. She had Apgars of 9 and 9 and was on room air on day 3. Sh had terrible feeding and digestion problems and a level III IVH. She was discharged on June 4th, 2004 weighing 4 pounds 3 ounces. The days in the NICU are something that I would not wish upon any family. They are the ties that bind all of us.