In early December of 2010, my husband and I found out we were expecting! We were scared and excited all at the same time! I had a great 1st trimester and was thinking to myself “hey, this isn’t so bad!” As soon as I hit my 2nd trimester all of that changed; I had all-day sickness and was just plain miserable!
I worked as a nursing assistant in a small, local hospital and one day I felt weird. I had one of the nurses on my floor check my blood pressure and compared to my norm, was a little high. I called my doctor and he wanted to see me the next day. He did all kinds of tests, eventually diagnosing me with preeclampsia.
Being in my 25th week of pregnancy, he put me on strict bed rest. He gave me the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario, but felt confident he would get me full term. I went home and became an extra cushion on my couch! I checked my blood pressure every 4 hours as instructed, but it gradually continued to get higher and my swelling had gotten ten times worse.
Two weeks later, I went in for an ultrasound and I just didn’t feel well. Feeling like a UTI was the reason for how bad I felt, he wrote me a prescription and sent me home. That night I couldn’t get comfortable. I was having horrible pains directly under my ribs, I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t sit up, I was nauseated, and I had a horrible headache. Finally I woke my husband up at 3am and told him I needed to go the ER.
When we arrived I was taken straight upstairs to Labor and Delivery. The doctor on call checked to see if I was dilated and gave me some kind of concoction for indigestion and planned to send me home. Thankfully, she passed my case onto the oncoming doctor at 7 am. He started running blood tests, did a couple of ultrasounds to make sure my gallbladder was okay, which it was.
Around lunchtime, the doctor came in and told me that I had developed HELLP syndrome (I had never heard of HELLP syndrome, but I knew of preeclampsia). He also said that a transport team was on its way to move me to a larger, more specialized hospital, and to not expect going home until my son was born. I was 27 weeks pregnant and terrified.
Once I got downtown, the doctors placed me on magnesium and monitors galore. I had the worst headache ever and no medicine they gave me even came close to touching it. My blood pressure had reached 200’s/190’s (stroke level). My liver enzymes were through the roof, my blood platelet count was very low, and my vision had become extremely blurry. The only way to relieve me was delivery.
They scheduled my C-section for the 24th hour after my 2ndsteroid shot for Carson’s (my son) lungs. I vaguely remember the few days between my hospital admission and the C-section. Carson was born weighing 2lbs, 8oz.
After I came out of recovery, I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed. My blood pressure was still high and I had developed fluid on my lungs. Almost two days after my son was born, I was allowed to get out of the bed, but I had to keep my oxygen levels up before they would take me to see him. Finally, a few hours later, I got to see him, but only for a few minutes.
While my husband stayed at the NICU to show off our tiny baby boy to our families, my nurse took me back to my room. As I sat there by myself, I began to blame myself for all of this. Is there anything I could have done to prevent this? What is wrong with me? I could have died, my son could have died. My nurse for the night only had one patient: me. She was amazing and sat in my room for over an hour comforting me and assuring me that it wasn’t my fault.
I was discharged a few days later and leaving my baby at the hospital an hour away was not easy. It took several weeks for my blood pressure to get back to normal. Carson was in the hospital for 8 weeks, and thankfully he was healthy and had a smooth NICU stay.
Whether your preemie has illnesses or complications, it’s still a struggle, but, thankfully for us, he is now almost 2 years old and a healthy, messy boy! We could not have been so lucky.