On July 21, 1999, I went to a regular doctors appointment, where they discovered the

Post On Friday, June 21, 2002 By Samantha

On July 21, 1999, I went to a regular doctors appointment, where they discovered the
On July 21, 1999, I went to a regular doctors appointment, where they discovered the protein in my urine was unusually high. The doctor told me at the time that since this was the only unusual symptom of anything (he didn't mention preeclampsia at the time) they would take some tests and get back to me. If they didn't get back to me within one week they wanted me to call them. I was oblivious to any condition it could have been and that I would have virtually every symptom there is for preeclampsia.

On July 27, 1999, (exactly one day before I was going to call the doctor for an answer) I woke up at four in the morning with a killer migraine. I took some Tylenol and hoped it would go away. I was due to baby-sit my little brother (3) and sister (6 mo.) in three hours and my head hurt so bad I didn't think I could do it. My headache was so sensitive I couldn't bear the sound of my three-year-old brother's feet on the hard wood floor. I called the doctor's office, and was told to take Tylenol and if it persisted by the end of the day, call back. I should mention at this time that my legs and feet had been swollen for at least a week maybe two, which I thought was common, but not when the swelling would not subside overnight or when I raised my feet.

Around 11:30 a.m. after unsuccessfully attempting sleep, I got up to go to the bathroom and realized I couldn't see anything. I called the doctor again, where they said a nurse would return the call. Since I was so easily dismissed, I figured I was overreacting. One hour went by, my vision was so blurry. I called back. When told the nurse was just starting her callbacks it would be another hour, I insisted it was an emergency. I knew something was not right, although I could feel my baby kicking all morning. Finally, the doctor I had previously seen got on the phone and told me to immediately come into labor and delivery. Since I could not see, my mother had to come home from work to take me (My baby's father was out of town, not expecting the arrival of his firstborn so soon).

When my mom arrived, we left immediately. The hospital was thirty minutes away. Halfway there, I felt nauseous. My mom not wanting to stop handed me a towel to vomit in. I had also developed this terrible pain in my upper abdomen. It was this dull, aching. That seemed to be the worst part to deal with. When we arrived at the hospital, a wave of nurses hit me. They were introducing themselves and giving me instructions, I was confused, I thought they just wanted to take a couple of tests.

I had gained ten pounds since my doctors visit six days prior. They instructed me to pee in a cup, which I was unable to do. I was put on Magnesium Sulfate (I hope that's right), I was given a steroid shot which I was told to help my baby's lungs develop faster. They had taken my blood pressure, which was 200/130. The doctor came in and explained I had a condition called preeclampsia. That my body was basically shutting down and that is why I could not pee in the cup. That most women that developed this condition only develop a few symptoms before they can do something about it. His exact words, "Then there are those few women that are like WHOA! That's you." So they had to run some more tests, but if I "could make it" (scary thought to me) they were going to run me to Sacramento two hours away since it has the best NICU around. All I wanted the whole time was some water, but they wouldn't give me any just in case they had to deliver soon.

They were able to transport me to Sutter. When I arrived, they immediately prepared me for a cesarean section. My son, Joshua Tate Ramirez Ratliff, was born at 8:26 p.m. on July 27, 1999, at 3 pounds, 2 ounces and 16 3/4 inches long. He was born at 30 weeks and one day. He had to stay in the hospital 34 days and was released to come home the day he turned four pounds. He was lucky enough to not have any real serious problems, he was on a ventilator three days, and light air for thirteen more days. They basically said he needed to gain weight and be able to maintain his body temperature.

I had to stay in the hospital for four days, when I was released, they checked my blood pressure which was 155/90. I thought this was high, but the nurse said, "It's nothing to worry about." So when I came back two months later, the doctor who delivered my son was appalled that they released me like that, and my blood pressure was still high that day. I had to take more medication and it is finally normal.

This is something that I would have never anticipated would happen to me. I was in shock most of that day. I did not once think that day anything bad was going to happen and I remember thinking when I first saw my son (a little purple blur) how beautiful he was, and I was never once worried about losing him (although all of my family was). Now when I look at pictures and think about it, I am sad at the way my son had to start out, yet I am thankful that he is alive and healthy today, (although he is almost two and barely twenty pounds), and I am so thankful for having survived such a life-threatening condition.
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