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Post On Thursday, February 14, 2013 By Sommer
My story is like many others who have suffered from preeclampsia during their pregnancies. My first son was born at 39 weeks because I developed preeclampsia out of nowhere and they rushed me into an emergency C-section. He was born weighing 6 pounds even. I had commented to my mother a few weeks earlier that I thought he had stopped growing. Always trust your instincts!
It took 4 years before I decided to try again and have another child. I had been told by several doctors prior to my first child that I would never conceive naturally. I told my husband and myself that we had 1 month to conceive our second child naturally and if it didn't happen, then it wasn't meant to be. Later that month, I began spotting and realized that the bargain I struck had let me down. I wasn't going to have another child.
I spotted for almost 2 weeks before deciding to take an at home pregnancy test. It was positive. I was excited, confused and scared. Why would I be bleeding if I was pregnant? I scheduled my first prenatal visit the next day and confirmed via test and ultrasound that I was indeed having another baby. The bleeding was unexplained.
I spotted until I was 9 weeks pregnant and on the 7th week, there was so much blood that I was sure I had miscarried. Through some miracle, my pregnancy continued without incident or explanation for the blood.
At 18 weeks, I received a phone call from my OB/GYN telling me that my AFP levels were high and that I needed to see a high risk specialist group the next morning. They were concerned that my baby had a neural tube defect. I was scared out of my mind.
My high risk level 2 ultrasound indicated the baby (another little boy!) was fine, but that my placenta had several large venous lakes (holes) and they gave me a 50/50 shot of carrying the child to term without a placental abruption. My husband and I set a goal of 28 weeks to shoot for and hoped for the best. I passed 28 weeks and felt like the world was mine! At 28 weeks, 6 days, my OB visit indicated my blood pressure had shot up, but my protein levels were fine. I was prescribed labetalol and sent home.
The next evening, at 29 weeks, 0 days, I was in bed watching a movie with my 4 year old when I got up to get some popcorn from the kitchen. Upon standing, I felt a gush, looked down and saw blood everywhere. My son was crying, I was shaking and my husband was rushing us out of the house to the hospital. After being examined at the hospital, the baby was fine (all fetal monitoring detected he had not been affected), but the placenta had abrupted, but hadn't detached. After 5 days in the hospital with numerous tests, I was sent home on bed rest. My protein levels after the abruption were 674, but went back down to 274 after my hospital stay.
I stayed on bed rest for 2 weeks, 3 days until I was admitted back into the hospital because the high risk group thought my swelling and blood pressure were still too high. On February 6 at 31 weeks, 5 days, they checked my protein levels in the hospital and they came back at 10,000. Everyone, including the doctors and nurses, thought the lab had made a mistake. My blood work indicated slightly high levels of uric acid and liver enzymes, but nothing that would indicate a major issue. Ultrasounds of the baby showed that he was fine and measuring at 3 lbs. The 24 hour urine test for protein was repeated the next day. Before we received the tests back, everything shifted. My blood pressure wouldn't come down and my blood work showed my liver enzyme levels were increasing. At 31 weeks, 6 days, they decided to deliver the baby via c-section the next morning and started me on magnesium sulfate.
The next morning, at 8:01am, my second son was born at 2 lbs. 15 ounces and was rushed from the delivery room to the NICU. We received my 24 hour protein test back at 11am that morning an my protein levels were 12,283. The lab results from a day earlier were not a mistake - I indeed had severe preeclampsia. My blood pressure immediately dropped after delivery and I felt better than I had in a month; however, within 3 hours, my blood pressure skyrocketed again and they started me back on a 24 hour IV of magnesium sulfate and pitocin. Having Magnesium sulfate pumped into your veins is like having poison poured into your mouth over and over again. I was feverish, disoriented, in and out of consciousness and had scabs on my face from constantly trying to "rub" the heat off my nose, forehead and lips. 6 different RNs and 2 anesthesiologists stuck me with needles 25 times trying to take blood during this time. I was so swollen, they were unable to get any "flow" and blew out 2 veins in my arms and 3 veins in my hand. They even looked at my neck and legs to see if there were any other accessible veins.
I don't remember much of the 2 days following the delivery, but at 11pm on February 9 (almost 48 hours after birth), I was able to see my son for the first time. He was so small, but beautiful. After birth, he had to be placed on a ventilator because his magnesium levels were too high. Later we found that I had a toxic level of magnesium in my system as well. He quickly recovered and was placed on an oxygen cannula.
I was grotesquely swollen after the c-section from all the meds they had pushed through me, but my levels were going back to normal and my blood pressure was coming down, although still high. I spent 8 days in the hospital and was finally sent home.
I am still swollen and my blood pressure is elevated 7 days after delivery, but I am grateful I am still here and my son is thriving in the NICU. I know every day it will get a little better. I was told to get a full medical workup 6 weeks postpartum to make sure I don't have any permanent damage.
The last evening I spent in the hospital, the woman in the room next door to me lost her full term baby. It was heart breaking and although my situation wasn't ideal, I know she would have traded places with me in a heartbeat. From that moment, I realized how lucky I was to be alive and to have my son still with me. We will have a long recovery from this, but we will recover and that is the best gift I will ever receive.
Upon coming home from the hospital, my 4-year-old son told me he loved me and that he was happy he still had his family. You and me both buddy.
I am a physician and the mother of a 2 year old daughter born after a long struggle with... Read More