My name is Jenny Van de Poel. I live in Fairfield, California, roughly halfway between
Posted On Thursday, June 20, 2002 by Janice
My name is Jenny Van de Poel. I live in Fairfield, California, roughly halfway between Sacramento and the Bay Area. I am 33 years old, married for 4 years. My mother had non-severe preeclampsia when carrying my younger sister. I recently had my first child at 33 weeks due to preeclampsia. This is my story...
Now that I look back on my experience with preeclampsia, I realize that significant signs and symptoms were present as early as 16 weeks. I began having headaches bad enough to affect my job, along with occasional dizziness, trouble focusing my eyes, and the appearance of "shooting stars" in my field of vision whenever I exerted myself, such as picking something up off the floor. The only way to control the headaches was with double espresso. I went to the ob/gyn office and they couldn't give me migraine medicine such as Imitrex because of the pregnancy. They gave me codeine but it didn't touch my headaches. They said not to drink coffee, but it was the only way I could work. I went as long as I could each day before resorting to espresso, but I had to drink a double espresso every single day or I couldn't function.
At 30 weeks my hands and ankles swelled up and stayed swelled. Always before, the swelling was gone by morning. I think this is a significant difference between normal pregnancy edema and the kind that could indicate a problem...whether it goes down at night. None of my shoes fit and my rings were very tight. I went down to a four-day week at work, and still I had to sleep about 18 hours a day on the weekends. Even with all this, I had no idea I was ill.
At 32 weeks I went in for a routine office visit. My blood pressure was high but it was blamed on the gauge, and my urine protein was high but they blamed it on a poor sample. Just to be on the safe side, they said come back in two days. Two days later they again found blood pressure of 170 over 110, and +2 protein in my urine. They said don't even go home...go straight to the hospital and check in.
In the hospital I received two steroid injections 12 hours apart to help the baby's lungs mature. After a week of constant monitoring my kidneys were shutting down...the baby had to come out. She was in breach position, so they took her by cesarean.
My story ends happily. My daughter Jacqueline was 4 lbs. with Apgar scores of 8 and 9. She has never been on a respirator, and she came home after only 9 days in the hospital, on December 23. Today she is a 5-month old, 16 lb. picture of bouncing baby health. And those lungs...sometimes I almost wish they weren't quite so robust...even our neighbors across the street know when she's hungry!
My own recovery has been slower. Exactly a year before Jackie was born, I was in Honolulu running a marathon. But getting over severe preeclampsia and surgery takes time, especially when you rarely get four solid hours of sleep.
I still feel I have quite a way to go before my health is back to what it was, but when my daughter smiles at me, I know I would go through it all again in a heartbeat.