Post On Wednesday, January 12, 2005 By
Up until I was about 6 months along, all was going really well with my pregnancy. No morning sickness, nothing uncomfortable. My doctor's visits all resulted in good news. I went for a routine doctor's visit, during my lunch hour, and they advised my blood pressure was a little high. I was asked to come back the following week. That visit, my blood pressure was higher. There were no other pre-eclampsia symptoms. The doctor advised that he suspected pre-eclampsia and told me to go to the hospital where they would do additional tests. I was so scared. When I got to the hospital they did some tests (stress tests, I believe -- it was 17 years ago, so all the details are difficult to remember.) They indicated that all was fine w/the baby, but that I was not permitted to return to work, and I should stay at home and take it easy, and return in a week for follow-up tests. I felt absolutely fine -- no headaches, nothing. During that week I noticed that I was starting to really swell - feet, hands, face, etc. When I returned to the hospital for follow-up tests, they decided I needed a 24 hour urine test, and told me they were admitting me. I was upset -- I did not want to stay in the hospital and didn't understand what could be so wrong when I felt so well. The results of the urine test indicated large amounts of protein in my urine, and my blood pressure was dangerously high.
They explained that I would need to stay in the hospital, for monitoring, until my delivery (which at this time was about 2 months away!) I was devastated. I had my first ultra-sound (they didn't do them routinely 17 years ago, like they do today...) and it showed the baby was small for gestational age, but she appeared to be okay. I stayed in the hospital, laying on my left side, for days and days. All along, my blood pressure remained high and I continued w/protein in my urine. Still, I felt fine. Two weeks went by and I had another ultrasound. This one showed that the baby was not growing, and another test revealed that the placenta was not functioning well.
My doctor told me "Well, it's not doing either you or the baby any good to continue w/this pregnancy, so I thnk it's time to get this show on the road." They had decided to induce my labor. I was panic-stricken. I knew it was very early for the baby, and I knew the complications that can arise from prematurity, as my nephew had been premature and had a host of problems.
They induced my labor at 10 AM, and also gave me an IV with something to stop seizures, which they said was a complication of pre-eclampsia. The Pitocin wasn't really effective, and nothing much was happening with my labor. I don't know if it was anxiety or what, but I could not relax. Every muscle in my body was on high alert and I felt constant tremor-like feelings. They kept increasing the Pitocin, but it wasn't doing anything. I was dialated maybe 1 cm. They broke my water and commented that there was barely any amniotic fluid. The monitor on the baby showed no distress.
After about 23 hours of no progress, they explained that they would wean me off of the Pitocin, and take me back to my room, and that we'd try it all over again the following day. As they were lowering the Pitocin, I started to feel like I couldn't breath. I kept telling them that I felt like I was going to stop breathing, and the staff kept telling me it was my imagination. At one point I really felt like I could not breathe and I grabbed my husband's arm and told him I couldn't breathe, and I started to try to climb out of the bed. He jumped up and ran out to get a nurse and told them, I think she either really can't breathe or is having a panic attack (which I'd never ever had before.)
When they came in, suddenly there was pandemonium in the room. The baby's heart rate had dropped. A nurse took my husband by the arm and told him he needed to wait outside. I don't remember what transpired in those next few minutes - I don't know if I was in the midst of a panic attack, seizure or what. The next thing I remember is being wheeled quickily down the hall, and told I was going to the OR. My poor husband is standing there, no idea what is going on, watching a team of doctors and nurses surrounding my moving bed. The nurse told him I was going to have a C section and she'd be out in 5 minutes to give him the news.
I remember being lifted onto a table in the OR, and having Betadyne (I think that's what it's called) literally poured on my stomach. They next thing I know, I'm in the recover room and my husband is standing over me crying, telling me we had a baby girl, who is very small, but came out pink and breathing.
I drifted in and out, and every time I woke up, I'd ask if I'd had a baby, and what was it?
I finally saw my daughter 36 hours later. She entered the world weighing 21b, 14 oz, but was breathing on her own. (The pediatrician told me that many times when the mother's body is stressed w/Pre-eclampsia, it speeds up the baby's lung development.....)
She stayed in the NICU for 3 weeks. She had no sucking reflex and was fed by tube. She progressed well - gained weight every day, no major problems. We had one major scare during that time -- her belly became distended and they thought she had necrotizing colitinis (sp), but fortunately, it turned out to be just gas. : )We transferred her to a private Transitional Infant Center, where she stayed for 10 days. When she was finally able to maintain her own body temperature she came home weighing 4lb, 6 oz. She came home with an apnea/bradycardia monitor, which we were able to remove after 30 days.
She's now almost 17, and the only lasting effect of her prematurity is, she has a slight learning disability. It's not a huge handicap and she attends all regular classes, and gets learning support for her math classes. (....who knows if this is from the early birth, or maybe she just inherited her bad math aptitude from her Mother!)
The whole Pre-eclampsia event was traumatic. I was sailing along with what I thought would be a normal pregnancy, when WHAM, the rug was pulled out from under me, and things just went out of control.