Hi all! I am Heather, mom to three, and I am here to see who all can relate to my story. A bit of history, I am obese (bleh) and have been all throughout my marriage and pregnancies. My first two pregnancies were perfect...in fact my second made it look so easy that I subconsciously wanted a third less than a year after he was born (read:sarcasm).
My second was 11 months old when I was staring down at a positive pregnancy test. I didn't have insurance, had to cancel mine to put all our kids on at the same time, so I was freaking out. State said we made "too much money" to get any help, so we were going it alone...I went to a lower cost office that went off our income, but was still too much to be able to afford, so I skipped a lot of my pre-natal appointments due to the fact that I was "feeling fine, had done this before, nothing I haven't heard before" type situation. About half way through the pregnancy, I started feeling like something was off. I spent the latter second half of the pregnancy feeling anxious, and breaking down into sobs because I felt like I was going to die and didn't know why. This went beyond being "nervous" about delivery. I had been there before, twice, and knew what to expect and yeah getting poked with needles and having a person come out of your hoo-ha wasn't exactly fun, I felt absolute, gripping, fear for this delivery. I told my husband one day that something was going to happen, and he tried to calm my fears but in the back of his mind, he too felt something was off and was fearful as well. We were both trying to be strong for one another, but deep down it was as if we knew...but didn't.
I had had higher blood pressure since the first appointment, which I thought was odd since I hadn't experienced that before. They monitored it as closely as possible, and of course nothing ever came up in my urine that would lead them to believe I was developing preeclampsia, but it was definitely a topic of concern at each appointment. Let me throw this out there too, I felt like this was THE worst experience with a doctors office that I had ever had. Because I was limited to their care due to my financial situation, I felt trapped and angry that I was receiving (what I felt) was crappy care. I didn't think I was getting taken seriously by my doctor, I mean she was nice, but looking back I really feel like had I of had the doctor that delivered my second, none of this would have happened in the end. He was a careful and concerned doctor that I tried to hate but in the end knew he had my best interest at heart. I would have given my right arm to have been able to go back to him, and yet there I was, "stuck" using this cheaper office that I attribute to almost losing my life.
Fast forward to the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy. My blood pressure kept hovering around the 140/90 range...nothing too crazy. Throughout the last six weeks, it would go back and forth between high and normal. At one point around 35 weeks my doctor sent me straight to L&D because my blood pressure was 142/98 and she wanted to monitor me for a bit. While there, hanging out in bed, crying because I thought I was about to have to be induced, my blood pressure went down to 120/76, and they sent me home on my merry way. I was relieved but at the same time confused, and feeling like I shouldn't have been let go. The last four weeks of the pregnancy, my doctor had me seeing a maternal fetal specialist to make sure my son's growth was on track and to also keep a closer eye on things. Each week I was seeing both my OB/GYN and the specialists office, and each time I was seen by someone different, who told me a different story; you will be induced, lets hang in there, yeah looks like you will be having a baby this week, oh well lets just wait and see, and on and on it went. The week I was to be 39 weeks I canceled the specialists appointment because I was tired of the games and felt like they were just stringing me along to get more money out of me. The blood pressure was still higher than normal, but not quite "dangerous" either...I guess they thought just letting me continue on like that was better for the baby since in MOST cases, the longer baby cooks, the better of course.
I went into labor and headed to the hospital. I was freaking out, remembering my fears and anxiety over dying during childbirth, and felt completely emotional and torn between wanting to get it all over with and not. Labor went fine, other than the epidural being THE worst I have ever had. It wore off and I ended up feeling everything while pushing, and I literally wanted to punch the anesthesiologist in the face while he was putting it in because he was smacking his gum in my ear. Worst experience ever. Ironically my blood pressure dropped to 80/50 after he put the epidural in, and I ended up having to have medication to up my blood pressure (weirdest turn of events that I could remember).
After delivery, I felt fine, was relieved it was all over, and felt like maybe the fears and anxieties were just that...nothing. We went home and my mom was there that week to help me out. I was petrified to be home alone with all three kids, being as my boys were 19 months apart and the second was (and still is) CRAZY as all get out. I believe we came home on a Monday or Tuesday and by Thursday I felt off. I was having weird pains under my ribcage and thought it could be due to the vicodine I had been taking...I had never had to take anything more than Motrin for the discomfort after giving birth, so the fact that I was using the narcotics RX was out of character for my previous experiences. By Friday I was in tears again and called the L&D ward who then forwarded my call to post partum who then told me they couldn't tell me anything over the phone by law and that if I was really that worried I should head to the ER. Well, I didn't have insurance, so I hung up even more upset because I didn't want to head to the ER and have yet another bill that we couldn't pay, but at the same time I knew something was off and that I should probably seek help. My dad had arrived to pick my mom up and bring her back home (lived five hours away) and he told me to stop freaking out, that I was fine, his friend who works as a nurse in an ER told him I was fine, etc. I tried to calm down long enough for them to leave, and then Sunday rolled around. I slept a lot that day...I was trying to escape the discomfort and anxiety, the weird pain in my ribcage, the odd sensation that I felt like I was dying, etc., any way possible. Monday rolled around and I woke up around 2 a.m. that morning with a splitting headache...it was like NOTHING I had ever felt before in my life. Nothing got rid of it. I tried caffeine, Excedrin Migraine, resting...NOTHING worked. My daughter went to school and my husband made the split (life changing) decision to stay home from work that day to help me out a little bit more. He told me he would probably take Tuesday off as well but that in the afternoon he would need to run by work and grab some things so he could work from home and get caught up. I was thankful he stayed home and we ran some errands and picked up our daughter from school. He told me he was going to go ahead and run to work but that he would take the older two so that I could be there with the baby and hopefully get some rest. I felt anxious and like I wanted out of the house, so I told him I would just go along for the ride and we could stop at Sonic for Happy Hour to grab some drinks. The headache was still present and I thought more caffeine was needed. I usually drive because I get car sick so I drove...we rolled into Sonic about ten minutes up the road and placed our drink order. The next thing I remember, I was waking up in an ambulance with my husbands eyes wide with fear.
I had a seizure while sitting in the stall at Sonic. Moments before I had been driving, and a few minutes up the road we would have been on the highway going 70 mph. God was watching out for us that day, as I was safely strapped into my seat and did not hurt myself by falling. All children were safely in their carseats, and nobody else on the roads were harmed. I spent another night in the hospital on mag. sulfate drip and was released to go home the next day.
The odds of experiencing eclampsia after pregnancy are EXTREMELY low, but in my case, it was even more rare because I had never been diagnosed with preeclampsia, nor was I induced because of preeclampsia, so my story is uncommon. I knew it was serious, and since then have had bouts of depression and anxiety over the whole experience. We could have all died in the car that day, I could have died from HELLP syndrome, but I didn't and here I am today telling it to anyone who will listen. Anything can happen, I know that my life was blessed to be able to continue and that I am able to be here to raise my beautiful children, but it frightens me to think that I might end up pregnant again. We were planning on being done after our second, then this pregnancy was a complete shock and surprise, so we were FOR SURE done...now I have an IUD and I am trying to convince my husband to get a vasectomy so that the chances of us ever accidentally getting pregnant again are slim to none. It could be life threatening for me again, and I won't take that chance. I cheated death once and won't try my luck against mother nature...I am here for a reason and I want it to stay that way.
Sorry this was so long winded. It's so great to have a support system like this with women who have experienced the fear and severity of preeclampsia. I have resigned myself to be as proactive about this now and plan to walk on May 12 here in Salt Lake City to help raise money and awareness.
I am just so glad to be here.