Post On Wednesday, April 14, 2004 By Chrissie
First of all, I have to say that I first heard about pre-e on, of all things, the television show "ER" about 10 years ago. I remember thinking as I was watching the episode how horrible this disease was, and from that moment on, whenever I thought about having a baby, pre-e was always in the back of my mind.
So, the short form is, I developed it at about 26 weeks. I remember that I went to work one day, and my fingers on my right hand were all numb. I had been swelling a lot - but it was hot outside (June) and my mother was telling me that swelling was normal. Just to be safe, I called my OB, and they made me come in for a BP check. I don't recall the reading, but it was high, and my doctor thought I "might" have pre-e, so they put me on bi-weekly visits. After about 2 weeks, my BP didn't go down, it continued to rise, and my OB officially diagnosed pre-e. I was devastated - and terrified. My doctor put me on partial bed rest, and made me reduce my work week. I have always had migraine headaches, and during the time between my diagnosis and my trip to the hospital, I had two migraines, which is rare for me. On July 16, the only time my husband did not go to an OB appointment with me, I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and my BP was taken. After talking it three times, my OB came in and asked me if my husband was with me - when I told him no, he told me to call him, that I needed to go to the hospital. I asked if I could go home - I had not even packed (I was 32 weeks). He said no, that I could siezure at any time, and I needed to be driven. I freaked out. no one in my family had ever even HEARD of this disease - and my mother, who has chronic high BP, had high BP with all her pregnancies, but no pre-e, told me I didn't need to worry.
I was admitted into the hospital that afternoon, a Tuesday, and I was told I would not be leaving until I had my child. I had biophysical profiles, steriod shots, ultrasounds, but I had no idea what would happen to me - and, in defense of the doctors and nurses who tended me, who, by the way, were wonderful (I realize now how lucky I was) - I now know how very difficult it is to understand this disease and how it progresses. On Saturday, July 20, my mother had just left to go home - finding me well if a little antsy (she lives 4 hours away) - my husband had just come to stay the night with me when I became ill with a massive headache - but not a migraine. I was given Darvocet, which did nothing. The Nurses called my OB and they were told to begin inducing me. I was also put on a MAG drip. They tried for 24 hours to induce me with Petossin and cervadil and NOTHING. The Magnesium Sulfate made me very ill, and I thought I was going to die. I was not allowed to lie on my back or right side at any time. FInally, on Sunday evening, my OB scheduled a c-section for early the following morning. My daughter, Mary Rachel, was born on July 22, 2002 at 6:46 a.m. She was 4 lbs 10 oz, and 18 inches long. I had no idea I had even had her.
I knew that I had the c-section, and I remember her birth - but after that I became incredibly ill, and for the next 36 hours, I was completely unaware that I'd had a child. My husband, sister and mother, and my inlaws took turns going to the NICU to be with Mary Rachel. I did not hold my daughter until she was about 2 1/2 days old.
I was on the MAG for 4 days, and left the hospital after 10 days. It took about 4 weeks for my BP to get back to normal, and Mary Rachel was in the NICU for 5 weeks - she could not feed, and her first 24 hours she was so doped up on the MAG they had given me, she had to have an IV, because she couldn't keep any formula down. I visited her every day in the hospital, several times, and I bathed, fed, clothed her. It was awful - and she was one of the most healthy babies in the NICU. I was not able to breastfeed her. I hadn't planned to, but when it became obvious that I COULDN'T, it made me sad that I hadn't.
Mary Rachel came home 1 1/2 weeks before her due date (September 4), on August 23. She is a beautiful, bright, sweet and intelligent 21-onth old - the absolute light of my life. I never realized until I visited this site how very lucky I am to have received the quality of treatment that I did - and how very lucky I am to be healthy, but most of all, how lucky I am that Mary Rachel is fine.