July 14, 2021 By Kristen Brockman
When you’re expecting your first baby, you get nervous as expected. You do “all the things.” Take prenatals, take pictures of your growing belly, take maternity pictures, have a baby shower, take childbirth classes & go on a tour of the hospital. But what you don’t expect is when you “breeze by” the NICU, you could wind up with your child in “that place.” I thought, “we won’t need that place.” Well, “that place” saved our daughter. I'm now 6.5 years away from my experience with preeclampsia, but the truth is, it still is & will always be very close to my heart. I see it in my daughter’s face every day. As a result of this pregnancy complication, she was the tiniest baby I had ever seen & she is now one of the smallest in her class.
I was pregnant with our first baby (surprise gender) & I was due on Valentine’s Day, 2015! “How cute!” right? Instead, my body decided to work against me & the baby: I had developed IUGR, & at 32 weeks my blood pressure spiked high enough to send me into the hospital overnight. I was given a set of steroid shots for baby’s lung development & “luckily” sent home the next day on a decent dose of Labetalol 2x/day. My BP continued to move towards “severe” without me feeling or showing any outward symptoms. But once again, after my MFM appt, I was admitted on Jan. 2.
By the next day (January 3), I was told for sure I had to deliver in order to save us. So, our “Valentine” was born via emergency c-section exactly 6 weeks early. I couldn’t believe we had a daughter when she let out her little cry!
At 34 weeks, baby’s brain & lungs are still not fully developed. Did you know that? I remember a nurse explaining it to us on a chart on the wall in the Unit. I hadn’t thought of it in that way before. Sure, you look at your pregnancy app & see how baby grows each week from a poppy seed to a watermelon, but that’s just for “fun.” This was real. Our daughter was 3lbs., 4oz. (less than a big package of sugar!) when she was born. I didn’t get a watermelon in the end. We drove back & forth to the hospital for 24 days & sat by our daughter’s side for hours at a time. First she was in the isolette with a feeding tube in her tiny nose, an IV in her skinny arm, wires attached all over her chest and belly, & on day 4, they called her the “blue light special” for treating jaundice. I got to hold my own daughter on day 2.
On day 16, she was able to sustain her body heat & was in an open crib & the feeding tube was removed. When she got the hiccups & grabbed my hair on day 22, I never laughed & smiled so much. There was disappointment a few times. We thought, “Today is when we get to bring her home,” but then she would have “another episode,” either a brady or apnea. Who would have ever thought, “my child needs to pass a car seat test” in order to go home? She spent those days growing to a weight allowable to be discharged.
After about 4 weeks, on Jan. 27, we were able to bring our Little Miss Peanut home! My birth story had a raw beginning, a bittersweet middle, and thankfully a happy ending.
Now she is in kindergarten this year, where she did quite well despite the pandemic & is thriving!
With the care of my own doctors & seeing a therapist regularly to conquer my fears, I was able to become a mother again, without complications, delivering at full term in July of 2019. Samantha became a very loving big sister to her little brother, Andrew!
So for those of you who are “new” to this pregnancy complication, this is a stressful experience to say the least, & it will probably make you feel alone, but you will get through it. Having your pregnancy and “maternity leave” cut short, the baby not with you at home, and your own body defeating you ultimately changes you. It’s up to you to decide HOW it will change you. Please reach out for help! And help spread awareness to save moms and babies. Any woman, any pregnancy!
At around week 20, my doctor categorized me as having gestational hypertension and as a moderate risk for preeclampsia. She immediately put me on b...ReadMore