Please feel free to share this link with every pregnant women you know, every women who is trying to get pregnant so they know to tell their doctor to check their blood pressure so this does not happen to them! Please ALL women read this. You really need to be aware of this since it's Preeclampsia awareness month and it KILLS!
My friend took a picture of me pregnant at 19 weeks. She was visiting and the next day was her last day here.
Unfortunately, my friend wound up spending her last day here watching my daughter the entire day while my husband and I waited frantically in the hospital. I woke up to a lot of gushing blood and we rushed off to our local hospital. They did their usual exam and tests and by then the bleeding had slowed down a lot. Finally, several hours later, the cold doctor came in to give us the worst, scariest diagnosis ever- vasa previa. It meant this- Vasa Previa is a very rare condition that is truly heartbreaking. The condition is one in which the fetal blood vessels are unsupported by the umbilical cord or placental tissues, so the vessels traverse the fetal membranes across the lower segment of the uterus between the baby and the cervix. Vasa Previa has an extremely high mortality rate, as high as 50-100% of Vasa Previa cases end in fetal death. The high mortality rate is caused by the fetal vessels actually tearing when the amniotic membranes rupture during labor. The vessels may also become pinched off as they are compressed between the baby and the walls of the birth canal. I was told to be on strict bedrest until I can get in to see my doctor.
My ob, ultrasound technician, and perinatologist all concurred that I did not have vasa previa. So I breathed a sigh of relief at the time since I had a tough pregnancy already involving hyperemesis, vomiting up to 25 times a day and several ER visits and one hospitalizaton because of it. I had a pump that gave me medicine around the clock to prevent me from vomiting and I was finally weaned off of it at around 16 weeks. I had two prior bleeds, one small, and one a bit bigger already also. I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa so I was placed on just pelvic rest and told not to lift anything or walk, or run too far.Â
I decided to change doctors a little after this bad bleed and it was a pretty good switch because I hadn't realized that for over 20 weeks nobody was taking my blood pressure, not my ob, nor my perinatologist. The new doctor found that I had high blood pressure. I had no idea how sick I was. I knew I felt tired and I knew how much I'd been through already. I had no idea how much worse this pregnancy would get. The nurse didn't even tell me how high my pressure was, just told me to lie down on my side and that she would re-take it in a few minutes. I was placed on blood pressure medicine and it was gradually increased because it was not controlling my pressure. It just kept on going higher every week.
At 27 weeks, I had my husband take my usual pregnancy picture. Little did I know, that would be my last pregnancy picture taken at home. The next week, after a whole day of not feeling right and fighting high blood pressure and just resting in bed all day, I just went to bed as usual. Around 11PM I felt a huge gush. I ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and just cried. I could not even move. My husband put in an emergency call to my ob and he said he would meet us at the hospital. We had to wake up our daughter and pile her in the car in her pajamas and a blanket.
My doctor was already there and I was admitted right away. After they took my blood pressure, I saw worried faces on all the nurses and my doctor. I knew I wasn't going anywhere and my life was changing forever. I was being admitted until further notice. I wasn't prepared for this at all. Nobody was. I had a daughter to take careÂ of at home. It was summer and she was not in camp.
I was put on strict bedrest and only allowed out of my room for Â½ hour in the wheelchair. I was given many medications to keep my pressure down and they weren't working. While I was in the hospital, the whole 19 days, I had three more large bleeds. I suffered from severe rib pain the entire time and could never get comfortable. Â I always thought it was from my fibromyalagia, but it wasn't. Â Preeclampsia causes pain in the ribs I found out after the fact.
I was diagnosed with preeclampsia because after one 24 hour urine test there was some protein in it. Sometimes, my pressure would spike to 200/130'ish. When that happened, I would have severe chest and back pain, nausea and vomiting, migraine, and blurry vision, and I would call a nurse and she would have to give me a shot to prevent a stroke.
I knew time was running out. After another 24 hour urine test and some blood work, it showed more protein in my urine, and also less urine output. It was turning into HELLP which meant Hemolytic anemia, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count.
My platets were dropping causing more bleeding episodes, my liver enzymes were elevated. I then got a kidney doctor on my case who for some reason got a good combination of medication that kept my pressure under control for a few days. Before that, I wound up in the ICU for three days because my pressure had spiked so high that they had to put me on a quick drip IV medicine and keep me very closely monitored. I was finally strong enough to go back down to labor and delivery.
The day before my older daughter's birthday, the doctors all decided that it was time to take Baby Kiran out of me so that we could both live. My liver and kidneys may start to fail, I could have a stroke at any time. The night before during her normal ultrasound, the techinican discovered that I did indeed have vasa previa. So earlier the next day, the nurses were teaching me ways to sit properly in the bed. If I just moved the wrong way, I could cause a fatal bleed. Things were getting really scary now.
I was just about to start eating my lunch, and my favorite nurse came and took it away and they put me back on magnesium sulfate to prevent strokes. It is by IV and I'm not allowed out of bed, so I also had to go through the horrible uncomfortable feeling of a catheter. I also had to suffer not only from being scared out of my mind of what to expect from an emergency C section and what my baby would look like, I felt so sick I just wanted it all over already.
I didn't realize how sick I was even before I was admitted to the hospital that night Augsust 1st 2009. I remember just being exhausted from going to the grocery store or taking Alex out for ice cream or taking her to her swim lesson. One day at her swim lesson, I had just touched a sore I had on my back, and then the lady next to me told me that I was bleeding. She gave me a tissue and I was shocked at how much blood there was!
After the emergency C section, my placenta was examined and I was told that it appeared to be old and dried up. There was no way it could possibly have nourished Kiran. She was tiny for a 30 weeker, she was even smaller than most 28 weekers. Thankfully, I had the steroid shots as soon as I was admitted in case they decided to take her out then. She was born breathing. Kiran weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces.
We both lived. But recovery was very slow and hard. Harder and slower for Kiran because her digestive system must not have been developed well by then, she suffers with severe GERD and has a feeding tube now at 21 months and is almost 23 pounds. It took 130 days for her to just to get to 6 pounds and we took her home Christmas Eve 2009. I'll never forget that day.
If you are pregnant, or know someone who is pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant, please tell them my story. Make sure they get their blood pressure checked at EVERY appointment and if it gets high that their doctor makes a plan based on what week they are on.
Usually if preeclampsia is diagnosed later on in the pregnancy, 35 weeks and later, the mother will be checked to make sure baby's lungs are mature, then induced, no blood pressure medications are needed. If it is before 35 weeks, another plan will have to be made since the baby's lungs are not mature yet and she or he needs more time to grow and organ systems need more time to develop. But also the mother can't be under high blood pressure for a long period of time because of the risk of stroke, anemia, bleeding, and once preeclampsia turns into HELLP, organ systems of the mother begin to fail and cause permanent damage, and then that doesn't help the baby or the mother.
Kiran still struggles daily with severe GERD, food aversions, feeding tube, lower immune system, choking, gagging, vomiting, being underweight, and having 3 types of therapies four times a week to make her stronger and to get her "caught up" since she was so early and she is tiny for her age. She has never been to a mommy and me class, or to a pool, or to the beach for fear she will catch something. Â For the first year of her life it was hard to count how many times she got so sick she had to be admitted to the hospital. Â It was a tough year. Â I know that God is looking down and has an angel helping guide me.
This is Kiran now at 22 months and 22 pounds