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Post On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 By Ashley
As I enter the 3rd trimester of my second pregnancy, I have begun to think a lot about the challenges I faced at the end of my last pregnancy. I guess in a way, I am gearing up for battle to try and be more prepared to face the struggle ahead.
I haven't really spoken about it much publicly, but those who know me well know that I had severe preeclampsia when my first son, was supposed to still be growing happily in my belly.
Around 32 weeks I started swelling. Nothing extreme, just enough that I had to take my wedding rings off and graduated exclusively to wearing flip-flops. I brought this up with my doctor who was not concerned. It was summer after all and I had low blood pressure 110s/70s the entire pregnancy. I shrugged it off even though it continued to progress. Around 34 weeks, I started to become concerned. My swelling never went down. No amount of rest, water, baths, healthy eating, etc. would bring my swelling down. It got to the point that my face, arms, hands, neck, legs, feet and ankles were all swollen. In addition to this, I started getting 3rd trimester nausea and was sick most nights. I had an appointment with my doctor where I expressed my concerns about the nausea and swelling. I was dismissed saying it was most likely the heat and since my BP was still low, he wasn't concerned.
At 35 weeks, I attended a wedding an hour and a half from my house. This is the critical time where looking back, I should have been on bed rest. While the wedding wasn't stressful, it was a lot of things for me to do and I was very busy. My swelling peaked and I had to go home a bit early desperately wanting rest. I had a doctors appointment the following Monday and anyone I talked with just complained about how the end of pregnancy is so exhausting so I really didn't have anything to compare what I was feeling with. I felt "off" but no symptoms other than swelling.
At my appointment, we immediately knew something was wrong. My BP which had been 100-110s, was at 154 and wouldn't go down. I was admitted and told most likely I would be going home on bed rest. While waiting on NST results and Ultrasound results, my BP climbed to the 170s - 180s and wouldn't budge. I was going to have a baby 4 weeks early. Without getting into the specifics, I began the process of a 3 day induction when my body was definitely not ready. I was on pitocin and misopropal for over 48 hours in labor for nearly 3 days total. I was also on Magnesium to prevent seizures for 5 days total (3 leading up to birth, 2 after) which made me horribly sick. My epidural failed rendering it useless and after nearly 3 days of labor they wheeled the c-section equipment to my room. Luckily, thanks to strength I didn't know I had in me, I was able to have a mostly natural (as natural as can be on 2 types of induction drugs, serious BP meds and Magnesium) birth, no c-section required!
Finally my son was born, he was healthy. He was a low birth weight preemie growth restricted by my untreated preeclampsia. I am so thankful to this day that he is so healthy and strong. He was born weighing just 4lbs 14 oz but he came out screaming and scored near perfect APGAR scores. Now he is a crazy, smart, energetic, happy 20 month old right on track developmentally!
I was in the hospital another 3 days, my baby for 6. The 6 days total I stayed had some serious rough moments. As I go into the end of this pregnancy, I feel ahead of the game in that I am a lot more prepared. In addition to a new Ob/Gyn, I am seeing Dr. Thomas Easterling who is very instrumental in the development of The Preeclampsia Foundation and works at the preeclampsia clinic at the University of Washington Medical Center. I feel I am in much better hands! The preeclampsia clinic in Seattle is super amazing and is giving me a really good idea of what to expect. So far it looks like I will develop preeclampsia again but my doctors are hopeful it won't be as severe and life threatening. So far baby girl is growing great, I have extra ultrasounds to watch out for growth restriction and have a BP cuff at home. This pregnancy I'm running at 130s for BP which is high but not dangerous yet. Only time will tell what will happen but I feel more confident at my choice to have a second child armed with the knowledge and support that I have found.
If you or anyone you know are feeling "off" or have any of the normal preeclampsia symptoms (headaches, vision changes, upper right quadrant pain/nausea, extreme swelling of the face or swelling that doesn't go down) please consult your doctor. preeclampsia is a serious condition and has been responsible for many deaths in the past. We are our own best advocates and if we feel "off", it's better to be safe than sorry!
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