To begin with, I had an awful pregnancy which I think was an indicator as
|To begin with, I had an awful pregnancy which I think was an indicator as to how my story was going to end. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum at 9 weeks, and things went downhill from there. I was constantly sick and vomiting (upwards 15-20 times per day). I had to take prescription Zofran orally, and I.V. Zofran several times per week. At 21 weeks, I started having regular contractions from the constant dehydration. During all this time, I continued to work full time. At 28 weeks, I stared having severe swelling, literally over night. I was 124lbs at that point in my pregnancy. I went to sleep on night, and woke up feeling (for lack of a better description) "tight". I looked in the mirror, and couldn't believe my eyes. I was HUGE! I could barely recognize myself. I got on the scale, and noted that I weighed 8lbs more than I did the day before. This didn't seem possible. I was looking at the proof in the mirror, but I still couldn't believe it, and chalked it up to scale error. Later that same day, I started to "deflate". I was, again, 9lbs lighter. Just to be safe, I called my OB's office, and talked to a nurse practitioner. I could tell that she thought that I was exaggerating my predicament, but I wasn't. She basically blew me off, and told me to drink more water. A couple of days later, it happened again. I woke up to find that I'd gained a significant amount of water weight sometime during the night. 8lbs worth, to be exact. This time, it didn't go away. Two days after that, I gained another 4lbs over night, and my body was starting to burn. It felt as though fire was running through my veins. I started feeling really short of breath all the time, and my vision would black out when I tried to lay down. I was a mess. What's worse is that everyone thought that I was just blowing "normal" pregancy discomfort out of proportion. I was starting to believe this myself (my first pregnancy and all) since nobody seemed to think that it was cause for alarm. The one thing that kept niggling at the back of my mind, however, was that none of these things had happened to a single one of my friends or family members while they were pregnant. At my next OB appointment my doctor asked how I was doing, and boy did I let her have it. I practically broke down in tears explaining to her that I was coming apart at the seams. I kept trying to tell her that something was wrong with me, but that I couldn't quite put my finger on it. She just smiled, patted my hand and said something that I will never forget. "You're fine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Just ignore this stuff." Two days later, I woke up 8lbs heavier, again. I was terrified. I got on the internet, and started searching for anything that I could find about severe swelling and visual disturbances during pregnancy. That's the first time that I saw the word Preeclampsia. I just kept reading, and I thought... Ohmigosh, that's what I have! The only thing that I couldn't account for was the blood pressure. At all of my appointments, my BP had been low, around 110/70. So, I headed to my local pharmacy to see for myself. I sat quietly, reading a magazine, by the bp machine for 30 minutes before taking my reading. I was astonished. My blood pressure was 146/96. I sat, relaxing, for another 30 minutes before doing it again. That reading was 154/95. I kept trying to tell myself that it was a fluke, and that I was afraid of getting high blood pressure, making my blood pressure rise or something. The fear began to get the better of me, so I called the doctor again. She told me that I was fine, but that I could come in to have a nonstress test if it would make me feel better. I knew that she didn't believe me, but I needed to know that my baby was okay. I got to L&D, and the triage nurse was more than a little concerned. They said that I was spilling protein, that I had "brisk" deep tendon reflexes, pitting edema up to my thighs with slight facial swelling, and elevated BP. After laying down for a long time (my OB was in a delivery), my BP was 140/85. My OB came in, asked to see my legs, commented that they looked painful, and told me that I should stop working and try to rest more. They sent me home. I went to the pharmacy, bought a home BP monitor and started taking my BP regularly. At my next appointment (2 weeks after I went to L&D), I explained how my BP would skyrocket with the swelling, and then come down, but never lower than 140/85. Again, she looked skeptical, but was more than a little astonished at how swollen I was. She kept poking at me (pitting edema), looking perplexed. Finally, she told me that my BP was fine (128/83), that there was no protein in my urine, and that I could go back to work if I wanted. She said that some people just had a lot of swelling, and that I was, apparently, one of those people. This went on for several several more weeks. I was a miserable, terrified mess. I kept measuring my BP, getting high readings, but it would be low every time I'd get to my OB appointments. Again, I was starting to think that it was all in my head. On June 21st I called in to work. It was a Friday, and I felt awful. It wasn't anything tangible, but I just felt bad. I had a slight headache that wouldn't go away. I was really short of breath. My legs felt like they were on fire, and every so often I'd get a stabbing pain in side. I wanted to crawl into a corner and just cry, but I had a big baby shower planned for the next day, and I wanted to help my mother get ready for it. But, I kept getting the feeling that something was wrong. I didn't really feel any worse than I did on any othe given day... but someting was different. I took my bp, again I got a really high reading (160/105). I almost to just ignore it, but something wouldn't let me. I decided to pay a visit to my family practice. I hadn't been there since I'd gotten pregnant, since I'd opted to go with a different OB group. I didn't need an appointment for a nurses visit, so I just walked in and waited. When a nurse finally called me, I explained that I thought that there was something wrong with my BP monitor, and asked her to help me fix it, or teach me how to take my BP correctly. As a control, she took my BP with their machine, this after giving me funny looks, and asking about the obviously severe swelling. She seemed astonished that my swelling was considered to be "normal". She didn't seem surprised when she asked me what BP reading I was getting at home. I told her about my readings, and that I thought that I must be doing it wrong since it was alway normal at my OB office. The nurse assured me that I wasn't wrong. She told me that my BP (at that moment) was 165/110. She made me promise to sit there and not move. She ran out to get one of the doctors. They came back, took my BP again, and it was the same. This doctor was appalled that I'd been told that my swelling was "normal". He insisted that I go over to L&D right then. I didn't want to, and explained that my OB would just tell me that I was fine, and send me home. The doctor left the room for a short time, then returned explaining that he'd called my OB practice and explained my situation to them. He then called L&D, and told them to give him an update on my condition once I got there, and to have my OB call him if they did not concur with his findings of preeclampsia. So, again I went to L&D. I didn't take any bags, or call my family. I was only 33 weeks, and fully expected to be sent home with the admonition to rest and drink more water. As soon as walked into L&D, to nurses looked at me and said, "Uh Oh". The gravity of the situation still was not apparent to me. Again I found myself in triage, listening as nurses whispered about my massive swelling, and brisk reflexes. Again, the nurse told me that I had protein in my urine, but a lot more than the last time. I was just hoping they'd hurry up and send me home because my head was starting to pound and I just wanted to take some tylenol and go to sleep. They kept paging my OB, but she wouldn't come. She left the hospital without seeing me. They paged the OB on call for the weekend. I had only seen her once, early in my pregnancy. She ordered some blood tests, and asked me lots of questions about my symptoms. A half hour after that, she said that I had to be induced right away. I didn't just have preeclampsia, I had severe preeclampsia. I was dumbstruck. I figured that I had preeclampsia, but I hadn't bargained for a premature birth. To make a long story short, during the night, my blood pressure went up to 195/116 and my baby developed nonreassuring fetal heart tones. I developed even more swelling during the night, and the nurses dubbed me the pillsbury dough girl! I delivered my son at 8:36am on June 22nd, 2002 via emergency c-section. He weighted 3lbs & 13.6 oz., and was 16 inches long. He need to be ventilated for 2 days, and stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks. I was on Mag Sulfate for 48 hours, and it took 6 weeks for my blood pressure to return to normal after the delivery. I have very few memories of my son's birth, due to my BP and the Mag Sulfate. The pathology reports (I requested them) tell me just how close we were to not making it. There was a large bloodclot forming on the placenta that would have separated it, and caused and abruption. One or both of us probably wouldn't have made it another couple of days. My little guy is four months old now and doing wonderfully. He has exceeded all expectations for a premie, and has caught up to and exceeded some milestones for a term baby. I am very proud of him and relieved that our ordeal is over. I still worry that future pregnancies might take me back through those same trials, but next time I'll be armed with knowledge and a medical staff that is prepared. Sorry this got long, but thanks for reading our story. Jani|
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...