My Preeclampsia Birth Story

Post On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 By Mandi

My Preeclampsia Birth Story

It was a normal Wednesday.  I dont even remember anything special about the morning - I went to work as usual.  Left in the early afternoon to make the trip to my prenatal appointment.  I was feeling especially large and definitely pregnant.  I remember making a comment to a co-worker on the way out the door that it was the last of my "two-week" appointments before I would move to the one-a-week ones - which was very exciting!

I met my husband in the parking garage and we walked into the office building.  I checked in and sat down.  I remember feeling normal.  I got a text about a piece of foam I was trying to get for the babys nursery and the daybed we had in there.  The office was unusually busy that day.  We got called back and I stepped on the scale like I had many times before.  206.  206?  That was 10 pounds more than my last appointment two weeks prior.  Thats not good.
I did the drill - peed in a cup - and went to the exam room.  My husband and I chatted about my weight gain.  The nurse came in to take my blood pressure.  She had a concerned look on her face.  I could tell it was high.  She said she would take it again.
The midwife Peggy came in - she looked concerned and asked me a few questions about how I was feeling and my swelling.  She could see that my face was swollen.  She left the room and I could hear her and the nurse talking in the hallway.  It didnt sound good.  Whispered, worried voices.

I started to get worried- I told my husband that this is not good - not good at all.  They will take the baby.  We are not ready.  Im only 34 weeks.
My worries were confirmed when Peggy returned.  Yes, you have signs of preeclampsia.  We are going to try and schedule for a biophysical profile and then send you straight to the hospital for a 24 hour urine test.
We waited.  My husband tried to reassure me.  The sono tech was free - so we were whisked away.  It was exciting to get to see our son on the sono machine again, but I was scared because I didnt know if something was wrong with him.
But everything was fine.  Baby was doing well.  Heart rate and blood flow were great.
The office was bustling as we made our way out - they scheduled us for another prenatal appointment in a week - one that we would never need.

On the way to the hospital next door - I made the phone call to my coworkers.  I couldnt seem to get ahold of anyone and ended up talking to my manager.  I had earned another night in the hospital.
We walked through the ER entrance and made our way towards the elevators.  We made a pit stop at the restrooms.  I remember waiting outside for my husband and being worried - but not realizing the gravity of the situation.
We made it up to labor and delivery and they had us in the room right next to the nurses station.  I already knew the drill - as I had spent an evening in the hospital a month earlier for stomach flu.  I remember kicking off the ugly dr. scholls large shoes I had bought just two days prior to fit my swollen feet.
It wasnt long before I had the fetal monitors hooked up and an IV of fluid had been started.  I had to pee into a catch for the next 24 hours so that they could measure the protein levels - I was also not allowed to eat.
There was a very nice nurse who ended up getting me a much more comfortable bed.  I dont remember all what was going through my head at the time - but I dont remember being super anxious yet.  Scott went home that night.  They came in to check me as they thought I was having contractions - but I didnt feel anything.  She told me I was 1 cm dilated.  They even prepped the room in case I was to deliver.  All I knew at the moment was we had to wait on the protein results.
In the morning I was finally released to eat- and that was seriously one of the best meals - who tells a 34 week pregnant lady that she cant eat!  Scott came back to the hospital.  They scheduled us for an in-hospital sonogram/biophysical profile to check on Isaac and get some of the babys measurements.
The sono tech was a very nice guy and he came around mid-morning.  Baby was still doing just fine.  He measured 5 pounds and some ounces; which was a week ahead of where the normal is.  The neonatologist came to talk to us as well - Dr. Omar.  He assured us that baby was far enough along that he should do ok.  He was a late pre-term baby.  However, it was never brought to our attention what would happen to him after being born - and at the time I had no clue what questions I should be asking.  I was finished with the urine collection mid-afternoon that day.  They sent that off to the lab.  It was Halloween.
While we were waiting for the test results the nurse had a fun idea for us to decorate surgical masks with faces and to take a picture.  Unknowingly, it was my last pregnant picture.
Later that night midwife Peggy came in and sat in the rocking chair that was in the room.  This didnt look all that good.  I was asked again if I was having any blurry vision or headaches or upper belly pain. No - I had none of that and felt ok - other than being quite swollen.  The results.  She started by saying that a normal protein count for a pregnant woman is less that 300.  500 is considered preeclampsia and my count was 9,000.  This meant that my kidneys were spilling large amounts of protein and this could possibly be causing kidney damage.  She told us that she wasnt sure what the next steps were as the doctor would not be in until the morning.  However, I would not be leaving the hospital before having the baby.  Oh.  And that also meant more waiting.
I know that we had a few conversations about what would/could happen.  Again we didnt really know much.  I know we discussed a c-section vs an induction.  I had planned an all-natural birth with the midwives and had hired a doula. I wanted to have the baby in the water.  This was all quickly going  in the complete opposite direction.  I was scared of an induction as I didn't want any of the interventions - the IV, the pitocin, the monitors.  Little did I realize that those would have been welcomed vs the emotions I felt after having a c-section.
Then next morning I ordered breakfast - pancakes with sausage.  The doctor and midwife Greta came in the morning right after it was delivered.
The news:  you are going to have this baby today.  With your protein levels that high and your bp reading high - the safest course of action is to get the baby out.  I was told that I could try and labor for a few hours.  He acted like I wasn't going to be able to labor for long. (In reality inductions at 34 weeks can take days).  Both the midwife and dr checked me and said that my cervix was still high and closed (wonder what the other midwife was thinking when she said I had dilated some).  But at the same time - of course it would be high and closed - I was only 34 weeks along!  Greta commented that you could lose your uterus with the magnesium sulfate I was going to have to get countered with the Pitocin to induce labor. (I have not found anything to coincide with what she told me that day...  one of the reasons we felt we had to choose a c-section.  I was given both anyway after the surgery, not sure the difference)
Scared, we chose to go the c-section route based on the information given at that time.  I feel I was not give the complete story - and may never know.  They were pleased I had not eaten my breakfast yet.  (In hindsight I would of loved to have eaten and had the chance to process what was about to happen to me that day - to accept the fact that I was no longer going to be pregnant - that I wasnt going to deliver how I had wanted.  I would give a million bucks to go back and be able to write a cesarean birth plan - even though I had planned a natural birth)
They would schedule the c-section for some time that day - but we werent sure when.  The doctors left the room.
We started making a few phone calls to tell people the news - try and let it sink in that Isaac would be arriving today.  I didn't have time to get nervous or even excited.  I hadnt as much called my family when the room  was filled with doctors and nurses - you are going to have the c-section NOW. OH.
I didnt have time to think as I was signing consent forms, being given another IV, having a catheter inserted, being told from the anesthesiologist what to expect for the spinal.  Within minutes I was whisked away to the operating room.  I dont even remember saying goodbye to my husband.  I didn't have time to think.  Looking back, I asked to use the bathroom before they all got started and that was quickly brushed away by a nurse telling me with the catheter inserted it wouldn't matter.  Those few seconds alone in the bathroom, to breathe, to comprehend what was happening would have been amazing.  I shouldn't have let her bully me - I should have said NO, I'm going to use the bathroom first.
Once in the operating room they had me scoot over to the table and I had to hunch over so they could insert the spinal.  I was then laid down and they started prepping me.  I couldnt see anything because of the drape in front of my face.  I started to feel nauseous so the nurse gave me something to make the queasiness go away.
The nurse anesthetist was very nice and was telling me a few things about the procedure.  I remember my pressure readings were still moderately high.
They finally let my husband in - and they had already made the incision.  I remember being on the verge of tears and being numb.  Someone shouted rupture and the time - the nurse assured us that was normal - they had just broke my water.  I asked if he could see anything and he said no - then he stood up just in time to see Isaac being pulled from my abdomen.  I faintly remember hearing a cry and getting to see him for a split second.
They had Scott go over to pick him up briefly.  They brought him over so I could see him and then carted him off to the NICU.
It took them a really long time to sew me back up.  I remember feeling quite numb emotionally speaking.  The team picked me up and put me back in my bed to be carted back to recovery - which was just my old hospital room.  But in that time my hospital room changed.  It was no longer my "labor & delivery" room.  I was no longer carrying my son.  It was now simply a recovery room.
Back in my room - There were two nurses that were with me for my recovery.  There was some sort of heart monitor device that they put on to keep an eye on me.  I dont remember Scott being there - but if I think he went off to the NICU with Isaac.
I started to feel nauseous again and threw up.  Over and over - with a fresh incision - it wasnt fun or pretty.  They told me after I had "recovered" for an hour or so - they would wheel me down to see Isaac.  I was ok with that.  I soon found out that was not the case.  I was on the "mag" as it is so lovingly referred and could not be transported. (If it were to happen to me again I would fight like hell to see my baby)

I don't remember much from that night - I know we had a few visitors that afternoon.  My pressures were still high.  They kept checking my incision, my vitals, my reflexes.  Every hour.  I recorded a teary video on my husband's phone telling my baby I loved him.  He played it for Isaac. 

The following day the doctor came in for rounds around noon - I was hopeful to be off of the "mag" and off to see my son.  I was devastated when he told me my pressure was still high and that I needed to be on the mag for another 24 hours.  I could not go see my baby.  I had a breakdown.  I balled. They couldn't do that.  He finally said that they could take me off of the "mag" and I could go see him for a short visit.  They took my BP right then - it was the highest of my hospital stay - 167 over 110. Not surprised.

The nurse said I had to "calm down".  Really?  Give me my baby and maybe I will calm down.  Not rocket science!!!

Once I "calmed down" and my BP leveled to where they were comfortable - they got a wheelchair ready for me.  That journey from my hospital bed to the wheelchair was difficult.  Magnesium sulfate makes you feel like you are made of silly puddy.

I had to hold a towel over my eyes when they wheeled me into the hallway - they were afraid the lights would cause a seizure. 

I got wheeled into the NICU and down to Isaac's pod.  He was under the UV lights because his bilirubin count was high.  He was attached to wires everywhere- and at that time still on a ventilator.  I was so scared to hold him.  He was tiny.  I felt immense guilt about the wires attached to him.  It was my fault he was there wasn't it?  If I could have carried him longer he wouldn't have an IV in his head - or tubes up his nose.  I was relieved that he was finally in my arms - where he belonged.  I felt pretty weak and my time was quickly over.  I had to go back to my room.

I had a consult with a nephrologist and they started me on labetelol that day.  (not sure why they didn't try to normalize my BP BEFORE delivery)  The night nurse gave me an IV of hydralazine because she said the labetelol was not bringing my BP down.  When at a follow up appointment months later - the nephrologist told me that I should have only been given the hydralazine if my BP's stayed above 170/110 - they never got that high - let alone stay that high.  I had a horrible reaction to the hydralazine where I started shivering and was freezing cold.  The mag makes you feel hot, like you are on fire - so it was weird how I was suddenly cold.  They called in the resident, the sr resident and called the OB at home and phoned the nephrologist.  (it was Sat night).  My body finally calmed down - but I was terrified. 

The nurse wanted me to take more BP meds - I freaked out and said absolutely not!!! 

The next day - I was finally allowed off of the mag.  I took a glorious shower - while quit shaky.  My wonderful husband helped get me in and out and even dressed.  So thankful he was there with me.  I would have probably ended up in the loony bin if he hadn't stayed in the hospital with me throughout the whole ordeal.

I got to see Isaac that afternoon - the next day, Monday - I kept my fingers crossed that they would let me go home.  I was finally given the ok. It was hard leaving my baby - but I hated that room.  I hated being there - being a patient.  I wanted to be at home.

Next obstacle was the daily visits to the NICU - the waiting, the not knowing when you were going to be able to leave the hospital with your baby.  I was exhausted - mentally and physically.  It was almost two weeks before we could take our baby home. 

In the weeks and months that have followed - I have struggled immensely with my c-section.  Was it really necessary?  Why wasn't I counseled to an induction?  More Why"s, what-if's?  How come?  I'll never know.  I feel as though something sacred was taken from me.  My baby, my son, was supposed to be born - I feel as if he was "taken".  I feel violated.  I feel guilty.  Why did I get preeclampsia.  Why couldn't have I done something different? 

I had a postpartum visit on my due date.  I balled in the waiting room - to the doctor.  My baby was already six weeks old.  This should have been my appointment where I was going to be huge, uncomfortable and ready for baby to be here! 

Please note that I AM thankful for my healthy baby boy.  He is doing well and is now roly poly 15 pounds at three months old.  I love him so much.
I am hoping for a VBAC - I have many more obstacles in my way than I did in the past to achieving a natural birth.
 I hope to document my journey. 

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