I come from a long line of child-bearing mothers, large families and healthy babies. Never
Posted On Thursday, June 20, 2002 by Jasoda
I come from a long line of child-bearing mothers, large families and healthy babies. Never for a minute did I think that anything would be wrong with being pregnant and having my own... Beginning in July of 1999, here's my story.
My husband and I had been married for 5 years and ready to start our family. It took us only 6 months to be pregnant - I remember keeping close track of cycles and dates - I went to my OB already knowing conception and delivery dates - I was due March 20. I was really tired the first trimester, could never get enough sleep. I beamed through the second trimester, but just before Christmas I started getting REALLY big. I had shown since early on, so I wasn't too worried, but people started commenting on how big I was getting - jokes about twins and such. I went in for my monthly checkup around the first of December and all was well. By the 15th of December people close to me were beginning to comment that I really didn't look good, and I should go visit the doctor. I was wrapped up in holidays, closing year-end at work and not wanting to "bother" the doctor during the holidays - after all, I DID have an appointment ! on the 2nd of January.
When I went to the doctor in January, I remember making the joke to him that he must not even recognize me, as I didn't recognize myself in the mirror. My facial features were swollen - I remember buying a cheap wedding band size 12 (my rings were a 7), and I couldn't lace my shoes any more. My doctor laughed and said that he was used to seeing pregnant women and I was doing just fine. He did say that my blood pressure was "elevated", but they had tested for protein in the urine and I had only traces, so he wasn't really concerned. I was now to see him every two weeks. He recommended partial bed rest to me, staying home, feet up, on left side... He did explain to me that, if there more protein in my urine or if my blood pressure worsened, I would go onto bed rest, if that didn't work, hospitalization, if that didn't work, delivery of the baby. I was 29 weeks along. I assumed all was well and continued my life as usual.
At my two week checkup following that (January 18), we were doing an ultrasound to check the baby's development. After giving my urine sample and taking my blood pressure (the nurse told me it was still elevated), my husband and I were waiting on the doctor to join us. He entered the room, cheerful and helpful as always, completed the ultrasound, and in general conversation (as we were talking about the hospital where the baby would be delivered), told us that we would be getting a personal tour of the hospital/delivery area. Feeing honored for a moment, I got excited - then he told me he was admitting me. Talk about SCARED! I remember walking past the nursery hearing the crying babies and starting crying myself - scared and not mentally prepared to deliver a baby yet!! Selfish, I know... I was admitted, put on all monitors and after the 24 hour urine test, was allowed to go home - total bed rest.
Assuming that, because I was allowed to go home everything must be OK, I succumbed to pressure from work and continued working. I remember sitting in Dallas rush hour traffic and losing all circulation to my feet and having to pull over so that I could control the pedals again... I was to see the doctor every other day. I still didn't realize what was happening to me. I thought that this was all just a part of being pregnant and fat. I went to the doctor that Thursday (they didn't have the urine test back yet), then the next Tuesday (unfortunately I didn't see my doctor). The next Thursday (the 27th) I went in and after submitting my urine sample, the doctor came into my room and told me to gather my stuff, he'd continue our appointment after I'd checked in. He wanted just another 24 hour sample, he said. OK, I could handle that. I checked in and called my husband to bring me a big bottle of Evian. I wa! s given an ultrasound to "check the development" of the baby and steroid shots to "help him develop his lungs in case of early delivery".
Around 9/10 that evening I began noticing that, though I'd drank the entire bottle of Evian, I hadn't filled more than 1/4 cup of the collection bottle. I figured "hmmmm, that's weird, I should probably tell my doctor tomorrow". I told my husband early the next morning and he said I should tell the nurse the next time she came in. After telling the nurse there was a hustle and bustle in my room. I was given a IV with a "full drip" of fluids and a catheter (just in case it was the jitters) - after being on the drip for several hours and no collection in the urine bag, they began to add things to the IV pole. Magnesium Sulfate was to "help stabilize" my blood pressure, something else was given to me when I got nauseous and antibiotics were given to me I don't even know why! Everything started getting really hazy here. I remember thinking I could "choose" the date the baby would be born, as they were talking about c-section or ! induced anyway, I remember wondering why the neonatal intensive care specialist would be visiting my room (I don't even remember anything she said), I remember thinking that my doctor's partner (the one who was on call that weekend) didn't know what he was doing and I wished my own doctor would come and seem me, because he'd send me home. I also remember wondering why, on earth, the neonatal specialist would be telling me that they had a chopper on call in case our baby had to be flown to the larger Baylor hospital in Dallas.
Finally it sunk in that they WERE going to deliver my baby (but, of course, my baby would be fine, I thought), they were going to induce me. If I had the baby naturally, the on call doctor would deliver him, if I needed a c-section, my own doctor would come in. They gave me pitocin, it "didn't work" - I slept through the entire procedure. They tried to break the water to start labor, it "wouldn't break". They then decided that c-section it would be and called my doctor in. I was scheduled for 2:00. I tried the epidural method - bending over for any length of time was incredibly painful for me. The first application didn't take, so they tried another - that one didn't take either, so it was gas for me. I was terrified. First, I was worried about my husband who was waiting outside the door to come in, then I was scared of being in my first surgical situation in my life.
Brandon was born at 2:17pm on January 30, 2000. He weighed 5 lbs 6 oz, 19 in long. He was a big baby for being only 33 weeks. I was in and out for a long period of time, not even realizing really that I'd had the baby already, not recognizing the fact that I had an infant somewhere in the hospital. I was told that I could see him as soon as I could sit in the wheelchair. I tried. My husband brought me a digital picture of our baby... it just didn't feel right. It took until later the next day (sometimes I think that my doctor ordered that I was not to see the baby until he was no longer intubated) for me to see him. Seeing him hooked up to tubes and IVs was one of the hardest things I went through. Brandon, being a "Mag baby", was completely non-responsive at birth, but within 24 hours had rid his system of the magnesium sulfate and was breathing room air. I remember feeling a vicious jealousy of other mothe! rs who had their infants in their room, the celebrations that were going on in other rooms... momentarily hating otherwise healthy and fat little babies who were brought into NICU because of slight birthing problems...
I remember asking my doctor WHAT HAPPENED when he visited me next... He said that ... no one really knows the why or how of PIH, but I had it. When my urine had stopped, my kidneys had shut down. Under hospital supervision, they waited the maximum amount of time they could (to give Brandon all the extra time he could have in the womb for the steroids to do their work on his lungs) before other vital organs began shutting down. When blood work showed the liver starting to fail, they knew they had to deliver the baby immediately to save both our lives. The Magnesium was a sedative to stop seizures, thus Brandon was sedated when he was born. My blood pressure went down the first day after delivery, but the second day it sky rocketed to an even higher level than before Brandon's birth. I was immediately ordered to lay down, the lights were turned off, and of course, I was not allowed to see our baby. I called my husband in a pan! ic and he was there within minutes. My doctor was called in and, after he'd checked everything over, put me on a blood pressure lowering medication and said that... sometimes a reoccurrence of heightened blood pressure after delivery happens, but because I'm no longer pregnant, they can then treat the problem directly. Knowing what I know now, I'm certainly glad I was still in the hospital when the second attack happened!
Brandon is now a happy and healthy toddler of 19 months. Every time I'm exposed to others who have delivered preemies who have or have not survived, I relive the miracle of Brandon's birth and his life today. Thank you God, for granting us this precious life.
Brian, Heather and Brandon Dart