my PE story

Post On Friday, July 31, 2015 By ruth

my PE story

I had had a rough first trimester with lots of nausea, then at 15 weeks discovered my partner had been unfaithful a few years back - a really difficult time emotionally, just when I started to feel well physically. We worked through things with counseling, but I was still feeling very down a lot of the time. By 28 weeks I was having visual aural migraines every few days, which was unusual for me, but I had had them in pre-pregancy around period time and had also had one at 6 weeks. My BP was normal and I had no proteinuria so I just assumed migraines were hormonal. By 30 weeks I was feeling tired and 'spaced out' a lot, but thought was just late pregnancy feelings (not been pregnant before) and some low mood from the family issues. A few co-workers noticed my face puffy, and i certainly noticed my ankles swelling. I am a healthcare practioner so did know about PE. Checked BP at home and was normal, also mentioned to midwife who seemed relaxed about ankles and was reassured by normal BP and urine test. At 31 weeks BP was 'a bit high' so was asked to return in a week for repeat. Went in a week and it was a different midwife than usual. Shec checked BP and it was 170/100. She said "I'm sure you've heard of preeclampsia" and sent me to the hospital antenatal assessment ward. I spent the afternoon there, where they did CTG (normal), urine test (trace protein) and took blood. My repeat BP was 150/100, so they started me on labetolol and sent me home. The Dr I saw said i didn't have PE but was 'trying to get it'. I went back to work for a few hrs then went home.

That night we went to our antenatal class, and I felt tired but ok. When we finished I noticed a missed call from the hospital on my phone. Called back the labour suite and they said urine test had shown high levels of protein and could I come in. It was 10 pm and I just really wanted to go to sleep in my own bed. I knew in my heart if I went in I would not get to come home until baby was delivered, and I wasn't ready, practically or emotionally for that to happen. I cried to my husband about this, but he tried to reassure me that they would just check me over and send me home. 

Arrived in labour suite and was admitted. BP was really high (180/120) and they gave me increasing doses of labetolol, plus IM steroids for baby's lungs. Eventually as BP not coming down had nifedipine, which gave me a hideous headache - I thought I was havign a stroke. All night I stayed on hourly BPs so no sleep. Husband stayed, but by 6am they decided as SBP less than 150 I could go to ward, and he went home. Next few days I was on the antenatal ward. My BP would be ok in the mornings, and afternoons, but by about 4pm I would start to feel shaky, spaced out and 'not right'. BP would inevitably go up, and most nights ended up with Drs reviewing me and extra doses of meds. After 4 days I had another night of really high BP and had to be moved back to labour suite. The next 4 days I spent there in a windowless room that felt like a prison. I heard so many women come and labour in the next room then leave. For 48 hrs I was monitored with 2hrly BP and CTG day and night. The nights were bad. I felt like I was going to die or have a stroke before anyone took the baby out. Finally I started having visual changes so they took me for an emergency C-section. This bit was actually ok, I think the morphine relaxed me, and we were so happy to hear our baby girl cry when she was born, at 32+6 weeks, 3 lb 2oz. We had been told by the paediatrican the day before about all the possible complications she might have, so it was a relief to hear that she was breathing ok. She went straight to NICU and I just saw her head. I got wheeled to see her that evening, about 12 hrs after she was born. I felt quite detached really and have very little memory of that. 

That night I had another high BP episode, so next 24 hrs U was stuck in bed. At day 2 my daughter had a fever - the NICU dr came at 6 am to tell me, and that they were going to do a lumbar puncture. I was fast asleep so just remember kind of nodding and saying ok... then when she left just crying and praying that she would survive. I was on my own as all the midwives were busy with labouring women. I felt very alone. Day 3 my daughter was ok and fever gone. I had uncontrolled BP again at night, up to 220/120 - I was having 5 minute BPs and iv hydralazine. I felt really 'wrong' in my head and believe I was very close to fitting - which I was terrified of happening. I really thought I was going to die.

Finally got to ward next day and was still pretty poorly but pumping milk and visiting NICU when I could. They discharged me on day 7 but I got readmitted day 9 with BP 170/120 and abnormal liver tests. They had stopped nifedipine even though I felt like it worked well and labetolol did very little. Back on it I finally got home 2 days later. Spent 1 day at home then back to NICU where I roomed in for 1 week til my daughter learnt to breastfeed.

We both finally left hospital a week later. She is now 6 months old and apart from being very small (11lb) and having eczema (runs in family) she seems fine.

After 6 weeks I was able to stop all meds. For that time I did still feel unwell, with in particular a lot of muscle twitching and jerking. Thats all gone now.

My family and husband are just delighted that we are both ok and take the view that we were 'lucky'. Rationally I agree, and know so many people have much worse things to go through. However I do still dwell a lot on the events around my daughters birth and have sufferred a lot with low mood, anxiety and insomnia... in particular I find that at night if I think about my daughter (even just what she's going to wear tomorrow or what toys i want to buy her) I will get a racing heart and feel very on edge. I hope this will settle with time.

I also feel that I have missed out somehow on the joy that a lot of other mums have with their new babies - through worries about my own health or hers. I feel jealous as my husband hasnt experienced this and just enjoys having her so much. Also i know he feels it is time i 'got over it' and moved on - which i would really like to do too, but still feel like I can't.  

Reading others stories has helped me to realise it is normal to still feel distress at this point. Writing it all down has also helped me to be clear in my mind about what happened

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