I had severe edema (swelling) beginning around 32 weeks in my pregnancy. I was sent to radiology to check for clots in my legs. I was so swollen that my shoes didn’t fit and the loosest of socks cut off my circulation. The doctor put me on bed-rest at 34 weeks for pregnancy induced hypertension. I was sent to the hospital twice a week at that point for non-stress tests.
Bed-rest to me involved staying at home taking care of daily household duties but not necessarily confined to the bed. Throughout that time, however, I was lucky to have Church members bring me meals and took an early maternity leave from school with no planned lessons. Even though I was on bed-rest, I still thought I had 6 weeks to prepare for Cooper’s arrival. Looking back, I wish I had been more cautious and had adhered to the strict no-activity recommendations.
On January 13, 2009, not wanting to disappoint my students at school, I attended a baby shower they had planned for me and started to have bouts of blurred vision. The next day, I felt like I had heartburn/indigestion really bad. Along with that, I was extremely nauseous which I attributed to eating fast food for lunch that day.
A few days later, I experienced severe pain in the upper right chest area. Early in the morning, I couldn’t sleep, and my mom who was in town helping me get ready for Cooper’s birth, gave me Tums and Mylanta to combat what I still thought was heartburn/indigestion. Later that evening, I suspected I may be in labor because the pain was unbearable. I felt silly calling the Dr. since I had never been pregnant before and didn’t know for sure. But I did, because my mom begged me to listen to my body.
The doctor told me it may be my gallbladder and to come into the ER if I kept having pain. My sister-in-law, having had her gall bladder removed earlier, calmed me down and I was convinced that it was nothing more.
I went to sleep but woke up not being able to breathe. My mom urged me to go to the emergency room even though I didn’t want to. My husband Nick & I headed to the hospital and within thirty minutes of arriving at the ER, I was told that I had HELLP syndrome and that I was going to be admitted into labor & delivery to deliver Cooper that night. The nurses and doctor also told me that I was lucky that I came in when I did.
At 12 a.m. on January 17th, labor was induced at 36 weeks. I was also told that I had to have a natural vaginal birth due to the fact that I was at risk for bleeding out. It scared me when I was prepped with an IV “just in case I needed a transfusion”.
Pitocin was started to induce labor, Magnesium Sulfate was started to keep seizures at bay, and pulse socks were started to prevent blood clots in my legs. And so did the 27 most scariest hours of my life…
Labor moved along slowly because magnesium and Pitocin work against each other. Pitocin tries to constrict the muscles to start contractions and magnesium loosens the muscles. I was so swollen that the nurses and doctors could barely find any veins from which to draw blood for routine labwork. They tried drawing blood from the tiny veins in my wrist and almost tried to draw blood form my neck when they decided to use my “possible transfusion” line.
Before I knew it, even though 27 agonizing hours had passed, it was time to push. While Nick and I had planned for it to just be us during the delivery, I requested my mom to also be in the room. I needed her there in case something happened that way Nick could watch over Cooper. As I started to push, I started to pray very very hard and looked at my mom to ask if “I was dying”.
At 3:04 a.m., my precious son was born. He was 18 inches long and weighed 4 lbs 13 oz. He was alive, I was alive. It was a miracle. I was so thankful that he did not have to go to neo-natal intensive care because of my preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome. I was held at-risk for the following five days at the hospital and could barely hold Cooper because I was so swollen. Thankfully, my husband stepped up and did a lot in the first 48 hours for our son. I am so lucky to have a great husband. I am also lucky to have such a supportive family. Had it not been for my mother, I would not have gone to the emergency room when I did and things could have been much worse. Also, my in-laws and father made the 8 hour drive through the night from Florida since the delivery was so unexpected.