Post On Wednesday, November 07, 2018 By Laura Kalinosky-Sanchez


A visit to the doctor on my 43rd birthday confirmed what an at-home test had already told us -- I was pregnant. I'll never forget the doctor's response to my slack-jawed reaction: "This IS good news, isn't it?" I quickly recovered from my shock and responded, "Yes!" while explaining my surprise at becoming a mother at this stage in life. The comedy continued as she responded, "Well it's not impossible!" She must have felt like she was talking to a teenager in denial. My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for about six months with the understanding that it might not happen, given my age. He had the perfect way of describing our daughter's arrival: "She was planned but not expected." 

At first, everything seemed to be classically normal with the pregnancy. I had nausea, heartburn, indigestion, food aversions, and reduced energy. After the discomfort of the first trimester, the second was downright pleasant. While I had read about preeclampsia and knew that it was more common in first-time and older mothers, I felt healthy and in good spirits. I was fascinated by the pregnancy and read as much as I could while continuing with my job. 

Around the end of the sixth month, I started experiencing carpel tunnel syndrome in my hands and wrists and noticed pronounced swelling in my ankles and feet. My blood pressure and urine were still normal, so I figured I wasn't in trouble. With the third trimester, these symptoms increased, and I began to rapidly gain weight -- 5 to 6 pounds every week for a month straight. In mid-March, a routine ultra-sound revealed a much smaller than expected baby for my gestational stage. By the final week in March, I was officially miserable and could no longer go for my lunch time walks as I had developed shin splints. That weekend, I felt light contractions that were more evenly spaced than Braxton-Hicks, and I had a persistent, nagging headache that wasn't helped by Tylenol or coffee. My husband took me to the ER on a Sunday when we were supposed to see a much-anticipated play. Our baby was not due for 8 more weeks. 

I was sent home later that afternoon after being observed for a few hours, and although my blood pressure was quite elevated, I was told by the nurse, "You don't have preeclampsia." Two days later, while at my obstetrician's office for my weekly checkup, she immediately had me admitted. My BP was in the 160's over 90's, and my urine was showing markers not previously seen. 

DSCN0291After another 36 hours and continued testing, I had an emergency C-section on April 2, 2009, 12:57 p.m., at 32 weeks and 5 days. Our daughter Sophia was born weighing 2 pounds, 14 ounces, and measuring 16 inches long. After I had a brief glimpse of her, she was whisked off to NICU while I was stitched and taped. Later that evening, I finally held our daughter against my chest. We have a picture of her smiling at that moment with a NG tube hanging from her nose and the standard newborn (preemie size) hat on her head. 

Meanwhile, despite the magnesium-sulphate I was administered, my symptoms became worse. My blood pressure and weight continued to rise. Five days after Sophia's birth, my blood pressure soared to 217/112, and after receiving a dose of nitroglycerin paste, I was admitted to ICU for 24 hours. I have never felt so powerless or so dependent on others. I was allowed to go back to the maternity ward once my BP stabilized. Four days later, on Easter Sunday, I was released from the hospital with four different BP medications. It took another three months before I was fully weaned from them. 

Thankfully, our daughter grew rapidly after being born, and we took her home on April 27, at exactly 4 pounds. She had a lot of colds and ear infections that first year and was a late walker but was otherwise a healthy, normal baby. Sophia is now in fourth grade and is an active, curious 9-year old. We can't believe how blessed we are and thank God every day for the gift of our amazing daughter.


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