- Women's Health
Severe Pre-eclampsia, True story
'I'm pregnant, I can't believe I'm pregnant.' I remember thinking that when I found out about being pregnant with my son. So many thoughts ran through my head. I started thinking about names and wondering if I would have to get a c-section. The Internet provided so much information on what to expect. I was so excited.
The calendar had marks for each week in my pregnancy until my due date, July 4th which was marked with a big circle. My pregnancy progressed and I had terrible morning sickness. It was difficult being a dental assistant and having to run out to the restroom. I tried the medications and home remedies. Anything that I could do that was safe for the baby to get rid of morning sickness, I tried it. After about the 15th week, it went away, thankfully. However, I constantly was feeling sick and even caught the flu a few times. When the 20th week rolled around, I found out that I was having a boy. Everything seemed like it was going great. Then my morning sickness came back. It was just as bad as before. The labor and delivery nurses and doctors knew me well as I came in at least once a week for dehydration.
When my 30th week rolled around, I went back into Labor and Delivery for dehydration again. One of the nurses that frequently worked on me finally told the doctor that he believed I needed to be checked for Pre-eclampsia. I had never heard of it before even with all of my research. I was given a 24 hr urine sample collection bucket at my next appointment. I returned it to the lab and waited. It would take 72 hours to find out. I talked to my doctor and they said that if I didn't hear from them, that everything was fine. I then looked it up on the Internet although, I didn't quite understand from the sites that I had been looking at. I did know that part of it was high blood pressure and so I frequently took my blood pressure. I never went below 145/95. It worried me as I knew that it was too high. The average for women my age is 120/70.
Three days later, I received a call at work. The doctor informed me that I needed to go to Labor and Delivery immediately and to inform my supervisor that I would not be returning to work. I was a little shocked. She didn't say much but that they were expecting me and I would be told everything once I got there. I happened to be in the military at that time so it took me a while to find my supervisor and scheduling NCO.
As soon as I got to Labor and Delivery, they took me back to a special area that I had not been to before. They put me on the monitors and took my blood pressure every 5 minutes. They couldn't get it down. They laid me on my side to try to lower it. The doctor came up to me and told me that I had been diagnosed with preeclampsia. It was on the mild side and could be controlled by bed rest. He explained that if it turned to severe, it could cause seizures as well as body organs failing. It could also cause growth problems for the baby as well as restricted blood flow to them through the umbilical cord. I was scheduled 3 checkup appointments each week, the very next one was on a Friday.
My husband drove me to the appointment that day since he worked in the hospital. I jokingly told him that if something went wrong, I would call him at work. I didn't expect anything out of it. The doctors had assured me that the bedrest would control it. When I got up to the testing room, they took a urine sample, then hooked me up to the monitors again. My blood pressure was high once again and they laid me on my side to try to lower it. I sat quietly for some time until I noticed the nurse was running around. I wondered if they were having a woman in labor coming. Then the nurse picked up the phone and told the doctor on the other line that I was still in the bed and she hadn't told me anything. I then started realizing that she was running around for me.
The doctor came up and told the nurse to change me into a hospital gown and move me to a private room. After I changed, the doctor came in and finally explained what was happening. She told me that the amount of protein in my urine went from 400 from the last visit to over 2000. My condition went from mild to severe. They told me to expect to give birth to my child that night as I was already contracting and they feared for the safety of both my child and I. An IV was put in and it was explained to me that I was being given magnesium to prevent me from having a seizure. At that point they said that I was going to be transferred to a hospital that was more familiar with my situation than they were and asked if they needed to call anyone. I told them my husband needed to be called and gave him his work number. They reached his supervisor and explained what was happening. My husband was taken out of his surgery that he was assisting in and told to go to Labor and Delivery immediately. The nurses explained to him what was happening when he came up and I was transferred to the next hospital within an hour.
I expected to have my child 8 weeks early. I knew how this could be very dangerous for him. Thankfully, by the time I got to the next hospital, my blood pressure had gone down thanks to the magnesium. They kept me in the hospital for two weeks. One morning, they came in and I could tell from the way they were talking, they expected to send me home. However, starting the night before, my blood pressure had gone back up and I experienced horrible nausea. I explained to them that I had not been able to keep anything down. The main doctor at that point explained to the residents that there would be a change of plan, I was going to be induced.
I called my husband immediately. He had left the night before to go to a family reunion for the weekend. I felt horrible that I had to call him to come back. I was feeling horrible, like my whole body was shutting down. I knew that it wasn't going to be easy and my son was going to be born 6 weeks early. The NICU personnel had already talked to me about what to expect. No less than 6 weeks in the NICU is what they told me. After 30 hours, I gave birth vaginally to my 4 pounds, 4 ounce son. It was a miracle to hear him cry. I was even able to hold him. He was breathing on his own.
I did not expect to survive it with how I felt, how sick I was, nor did I expect my son to do so well. He spent a week and a half in the NICU then was sent home. You would never know he was a preemie or that he came from such a stressful situation. Things could have turned out a lot worse. Thankfully it didn't.
So that you understand fully what preeclampsia is, here is the definition thanks to preeclampsia.org.
What does preeclampsia do?
It can cause your blood pressure to rise and puts you at risk of stroke or impaired kidney function, impaired liver function, blood clotting problems, pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs), seizures and, in severe forms, maternal and infant death. Because preeclampsia affects the blood flow and placenta, babies can be smaller and are often born prematurely. Ironically, sometimes the babies can be much larger. While maternal death from preeclampsia is rare in the U.S., it is a leading cause of illness and death globally for mothers and infants.