My pregnancy was quite uneventful, and I felt very lucky. I did not experience any
|My pregnancy was quite uneventful, and I felt very lucky. I did not experience any morning sickness, nor did I gain a lot of weight (12 pounds during the first five months). I had excellent prenatal care. All of my prenatal visits were routine. My blood pressure was normal, and there was never protein in my urine. I exercised frequently, but not excessively; walking and yoga were staples of my program. There was absolutely nothing that foreshadowed the dangers that would develop. I saw my doctor at the beginning of August for my six month check-up. As usual, everything was normal, except that I had gained 8 pounds in one month. Since my weight gain had been pretty slow, and all of my other tests were normal, my doctor attributed the gain to a growth spurt. I was experiencing some edema, but the summer was hotter than usual, and my house is quite old and without central air conditoning. My next check-up was scheduled for September 5. Over the next few weeks, I continued to grow, but I didn't realize how puffy I looked. Everyone around me thought that it was just a part of pregnancy. I really felt pretty great, but something told me that I should check my blood pressure. So I went to a grocery store that had a scale and a blood pressure machine. The scale said that I had gained 10 pounds since my last appointment, and my blood pressure was extremely high. I was shocked and 31 weeks pregnant. I didn't think that I was really sick, and since it was Labor Day, I decided to wait until the following day to call the doctor. I was supposed to see the doctor that Thursday for my last monthly check-up, so I almost didn't call, but then I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Physically, I felt fine. My only symptoms were the edema and elevated blood pressure, but I was not worried. All of the books said that with good prenatal care, preeclampsia could be treated. Also, it didn't seem possible that anything was seriously wrong. I am a teacher, and the day after Labor Day was our first inservice day. Because I was due in early November, my school was allowing me to teach a short 6 week seminar and then have the rest of the year off. One of my teacher friends, looked at me and asked me if I was okay. She thought I looked really swollen, and she was the only person who said something to me. (Really, how many people are going to tell a pregnant woman that she looks fat and puffy?) I spoke with the doctor's office, and they had me ask the school nurse to check my blood pressure. When she did, we were both shocked to find that it was 220/124. The most unbeliveable part was that I felt absolutely fine! No headaches, no vision problems, nothing. My doctor had me check into the hospital, but neither my husband nor I really understood the seriousness of my condition, and I felt completely calm. The nurses kept monitoring my blood pressure, which with complete rest only came down to 190/110. They started to take blood, but it was quite difficult because the edema had gotten worse, and they couldn't get a vein to protrude. At this point, I was told that I wouldn't leave the hospital until I delivered the baby, and my only thought was "Great, I'll be in the hospital for the next 9 weeks." How wrong I was. That night, the doctors told me that they were going to give me steroid shots to develop the baby's lungs, and that they hoped we could get through the next 48 hours before delivering me. And it was at that moment that it began to dawn on my husband and I that my condition was serious. Without getting into all of the details, my condition continued to be monitored, and seemed to be getting worse. Even though I was getting lots of IV fluids, almost nothing was coming out. They even double-checked to make sure the catheter was still in place. The next morning, the OB on call for my doctor's practice came in to give me the results of my most recent bloodwork. He told me that my liver enzymes were elevated (part of HELLP syndrome), and that they had no choice but to deliver me. I didn't even make it through the original hoped for 48 hours. The original due date was November 4, but my son was delivered by Cesearean section on September 4. He weighed in at a hefty 2 pounds 11 ounces. Surprisingly, he scored and 8 and 9 on his APGAR. For the next 6 weeks, my days were spent in the NICU watching my son develop. He came home on October 15, and he weighed 7 pounds by December 11. He is really quite healthy. So far, he doesn't seem to be suffering from the effects of prematurity. He is small for a 3 month old, but almost the right size for his corrected age. I think he is developing normally, and we are enrolled in a program that will track his deveopment over the next few years. There are no words to describe how lucky we are. I am sharing my story for a few reasons. All of the pregnancy books said that preeclampsia can be caught and treated before it becomes too serious if a woman has good prenantal care. My prenatal care was excellent, and I still got so sick that I could have died. I now realize that pregnant women need to take an active part in their healthcare and check their blood pressure in between visits. I also want parents to know that if they have to deliver prematurely, that the people who work in the NICU are AMAZING. Trust them. They saved my son's life and provided both my husband and I incredible support during our son's stay. I want to have at least one more child, and I will definitely be monitoring my blood pressure on my own in adition to my regular check-ups.|
After surviving a very traumatic first pregnancy with a nightmare delivery (30 hours of magnesium-induced hell, ending in an emergency c-section) and even more debilitating recovery, one would think I was DONE having children. Let's be ...