My name is Linda and I got pregnant when I was 34 years old after
My name is Linda and I got pregnant when I was 34 years old after only 3 months of trying. We never dreamed it would be so easy and quick and really thought that the rest of the pregnancy would be just as easy. I never had morning sickness like other women - only extreme fatigue that I later found out was due to the fact that I was expecting twins.
The first trimester was very easy and then toward the latter part of the second trimester I started experiencing headaches. I remember buying Tylenol for them. I had no idea that my blood pressure was up. I had experienced no swelling at all until the twentieth week, at which point I had to sit for long periods at work with little walking around. This was around my 20th week.
I also remember seeing stars one day while showering. All of a sudden my ankles and feet swelled horribly and my hands and arms began to tingle and burn. My face was very swollen. I studied the pregnancy books and they all said that headaches, swelling, fatigue, shortness of breath, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome were normal parts of pregnancy. I also knew that my symptoms would be exaggerated by the fact that I was expecting twins. I was never alarmed by any of this because the OB's office failed to tell me that I was also showing protein in my urine and my blood pressure was up. I kept calling and telling them that my swelling was not going down and they would tell me to keep my feet up most of the time and wear support hose all of the time. I remember that I could barely breathe but I thought this was normal. I remember seeing my OB (not a rotation Dr.) during all of this and she was very distracted and did not even comment on the fact that I had gained 15 pounds in about 8 days. I now know that if it had been caught at this time my babies would have probably had more time to "cook".
During my 23rd week of pregnancy, I stayed off my feet trying to get the swelling to go down. I also drank tons of water on Saturday trying to flush out the water I was holding. I noticed that with all of the extra water I was drinking that I was barely going to the bathroom. I knew something was not right. That Sunday night something told me to check my blood pressure. It was extremely high. I called the Dr. on call and he told me to go to L&D.
They put me in observation and monitored my blood pressure. Lying on my left side, it went down. They sent me home and told me to see the Dr. in the morning. I remember the walk across the hospital was miserable. I could barely breathe and I felt horrible. I attributed it to all of the fluid weight. I went to the OB the next morning and my blood pressure was up. There was also protein in my urine so she admitted me for a 24 hour urine test, as well as others.
On Tuesday, the OB gave me a steroid shot to mature my babies' lungs because pre-term labor was possible. I remember asking if I was getting pre-eclampsia and she said, "you already have it". I called my husband and began to cry because I knew that delivery was the only cure. I was 24 weeks.
They decided on Wed. to send me home with a Matria Nurse "set-up". I was to monitor my blood pressure, weight, protein, and do fetal kick counts on a daily basis and transmit this info through phone lines to an RN.
That night I began to feel congested and was having more trouble breathing. I could not sleep lying down and had to sleep in the recliner. The next day I just lay around but I noticed that when I was lying down I would hear water gurgling in my ears. I had no idea that my lungs were filling with the fluid that my kidneys were not excreting. I was miserable all night and I called the on-call Dr. before 7:00 am and told him I could not breathe. He told me to come in. Before going I went through all of the steps with my Matria nurse and sent the info in. The nurse in the doctor's office did not check my blood pressure. They sent me home with a prescription for an inhaler and decongestants. When I got home the Matria nurse was calling to tell me that my blood pressure was very high, I had gained about 2 pounds a day and I was showing 4+ protein. She said she was calling my doctor. They then called me back and told me to go to L&D.
I knew that this time I would be staying until the babies were born. However, I did not realize that they would be born in two days. My husband thought that it would be at least another month. At this point, I think everyone began to realize how sick I was. After being admitted, I was put on oxygen because my stats were dropping and I was not breathing enough oxygen on my own. It got so bad that if I did not have my oxygen I would panic. This was one of the worst feelings. They had to change my nasal canella to a full mask because I was breathing through my nose and my O2 stats were dropping again. They began administering magnesium sulfate because my reflexes were very brisk. My liver enzymes and blood counts were taken continuously. My arms were so black and blue from all of the IV's. I remember feeling so horrible that Saturday night that I thought I was going to die. I felt like if I did not die that they needed to shoot me and put me out of my misery like a horse. I literally felt like I could not stand to be in my own body.
The doctor told us that delivery was very close but that he would hold off as long as he could. We did not know if our babies would be alive or if they would be able to live being born so early. The Dr. explained that his first priority was my life.
The next morning, Sunday, the OB (who had stayed the whole weekend to watch me) came in before 7:00 am and told my husband to call any family that wanted to be there for the delivery. When my husband asked him how long we had he said 30 minutes max. My liver enzymes had started rising again, my platelets were dropping, I had 5+ protein and my kidneys were virtually shut down. Not to mention the high blood pressure. I was so sick that I was not even scared. I knew we had to get the babies out or I was going to die. The OB said that if they did not go ahead and deliver that my liver was going to burst and all three of us would die. Though no one has ever really told me I think I had HELLP Syndrome as well. The doctor called it severe (full blown) pre-eclampsia.
Daniel and Nicole were born less than two hours later weighing 1.10 and 1.7 pounds, respectively. I was 25 weeks pregnant.
Looking back I can say that if I had only know a little more about what to look for that I might have caught it earlier. I just attributed everything to being pregnant with twins and I think my doctors did too. I also believe that if I had seen one doctor instead of all of the doctors in the practice, that they may have caught it sooner. I will never understand why they never mentioned my blood pressure rising or protein in my urine to me when it started at my 20 week visit.
I had so many factors that could have contributed to my having pre-eclampsia, one of them being that I was born prematurely due to toxemia. My twins came home after almost four months in the hospital and they are perfectly normal 1 year olds. They are truly miracles from God. The pre-eclampsia had not affected them yet. I am very fortunate that my babies and I did not die.
My husband and I will never be the same after going through the NICU experience. Neither one of us could face the thought of another pregnancy. The fear is too great. Moreover, I will forever wonder what I could/should have done differently.
Linda - Mom to Daniel (1 lb. 10 oz.) & Nicole (1 lb. 7 oz.) born at 25.5 wks on 9/19/99.