I have had 3 out of 4 premature babies. My first at 30 weeks
I have had 3 out of 4 premature babies.
My first at 30 weeks with eclampsia; emergency c-section. 2 lbs 3 oz. (Boy, now 6 years---minor speech delay and nearsighted needing glasses.)
Second pregnancy, 37 weeks, 6 lbs 5 oz, no complications; VBAC. (Girl, now 4 1/2 years)
3rd pregnancy, preeclampsia at 32 weeks, c-section; 3 lbs 1 oz. (Boy, now 2 1/2, small for his age)
4th pregnancy, preeclampsia & HELLP, 24 weeks, c-section; 15.8 ozs. (Girl, 4 months old, still in NICU---Ileostomy, many blood-transfusions, osteopenia with fractures, and ROP concerns to name a few; time will tell)With my first pregnancy I suffered the symptoms for a week, calling my doctor's office with each new symptom, only to receive a suggestion for relief of that symptom before finally calling the hospital and speaking to a maternity nurse who told me to come in immediately. Within an hour of admittance I had a seizure and was transported to a hospital equipped with a NICU for my son. Emergency c-section and then a week of recovery I was home. My son stayed in the NICU one day short of 2 months, PDA being the extent of his complications while there.
My 2nd pregnancy was a surprise and was watched very closely with the concern of preeclampsia happening again (I was told that it's "very rare" to have it happen twice) and I monitored my blood pressure at home---at 37 weeks my water broke and was able to VBAC my daughter with no complications.
With my 3rd, the concern for preeclampsia was very low, but lingered. I monitored my blood-pressure at home and at 31 weeks discovered it was higher and went in. Sure enough, it was happening again. Immediate admittance to the hospital and was able to gain 1 more week, receiving steroids for his lungs. He stayed in the NICU for 4 weeks "growing". At my 6-week check, I asked the doctor if I should have any more kids and his response was that of "You should have as many as you want" and again, "It's extremely rare that this would happen again".
Having a completely "normal" pregnancy and baby thrown in the mix, gave us hope to have our fourth. I had an IUD after the last so I went in to have it removed and began taking prenatal---2 months later we were positive! At the in-depth 22 week ultrasound, we found out were having a girl and a small comfort came because we had had no complications with our older daughter, so this could be a good sign. The tech said all looked good, but she was measuring small for gestation. No thought to it, it could be a date miscalculation and we were sent on our way, our next appointment being in 4 weeks. 2 weeks later, I had an inclination to check my blood pressure...it was elevated. I went in and was checked out and was given labetalol for hypertension and sent home. I had only a "slight" showing of protein in my urine. 2 days later the abdominal pains began and I knew that was it. It was all too familiar. Referred to the hospital, my doctor met me there and sure enough here we were again.
A small time after all the 'paperwork' was completed, we were left alone to rest. In an instant, I felt the most intense pain begin in my left chest and travel up my neck directly to the back of my eyes---my blood pressure skyrocketed...bring on the mag! Being only 24 weeks along, I was life-flight transported to a hospital that was capable of caring for my daughter and I was diagnosed with HELLP. In transit they lost her heartbeat and the c-section team was ready and waiting. While being prepped for the surgery, they ultrasounded my belly and found my little to be doing okay and the emergency was put on hold. As soon as the clock reached the 48 hour mark from first receiving the steroid, it was go time. My husband and I were prepared from various staff members about the seriousness of our daughters prematurity---the odds were not in her favor. For 24 weeks, she was 3 weeks behind in growth and was 420 grams (15.8 ozs.) and about 8 1/2 inches. At 1 week old she suffered a perforated bowel and was transported to the children's hospital for immediate surgery and given a 5% chance of survival. It took the surgeon 2 hours to get the art line in her neck to even do the surgery, but she pulled through. The 48 hours after surgery were touch and go, she having a continuous blood-fusion because she was lacking the clotting ability. Again, she made it through. She spent the next 2 months trying to grow so they could do her takedown and reconnect her intestine, but never got to the 2 lb mark---with failing attempts at increasing calories and volume, the decision came to perform her takedown in hopes that it would enable her to grow better.
It worked---she is now up to 4 1/2 lbs at 4 months old. Her next obstacle is taking all her feeds orally so she can come home. She has osteopenia and had both legs fractured as well as one in her hand. They have healed, but her bones are still extremely fragile and will be for, they tell us, up to about a year old as that's when she'll hopefully be caught up nutritionally with those vitamin and mineral absorbency. She has had ROP concerns the past 4 weeks and has finally begun to improve as that surgery is getting to be less of a reality, but she will most likely have vision complications. As said before, time will tell.
I guess the main thing that keeps entering my mind looking back through my experiences, is, why I was not aware of the seriousness of preeclampsia. I know that with any pregnancy there are risks and not all can be addressed, but this "disease" is more common than I was aware and I'm finding that many women have never heard of it nor HELLP at all! This, and besides the issue of my doctor not taking it seriously with me---telling me that it "rarely" happens more than once...that may be the case with some women, but not all are the same, and it DOES reoccur more often than "rarely"!
I'm grateful that things have turned out the way they have for us, but I know others stories have turned out differently and I pray that a greater awareness and support will arise through sharing my story and educating women around me who may have been or will be in my shoes one day.
Ethan will be turning 3 at the end of this month (October). The month of October always brings up some scary memories and emotions for me... I never thought I would have a difficult pregnancy or labor. After all...