I Was Told I Could Only Get Preeclampsia Once...

May 25, 2023 By Riya Smith

I Was Told I Could Only Get Preeclampsia Once...

I have had two very different experiences with Preeclampsia.

My first in 2019, with our first daughter Sophia. My pregnancy wasn't the best experience, but mild. I had suffered bleeding early on and was monitored very closely because of this. In my final trimester, my doctors felt the baby was starting to slow in growth and decided to have me come in more often and started talking about inducing no later than 38 weeks. Around 35 weeks, my doctor realized my blood pressure was rising and started asking me to look for certain symptoms.

The weekend leading into 36 weeks, I was out of the hospital, given my first steroid shot to strengthen her lungs and at my follow-up office visit for my second dose of steroid I was immediately sent to the hospital. I had my daughter on August 27 at 10:21pm; she was 4lbs 11oz. I found out the symptoms I had experienced that last month were preeclampsia symptoms, temporary loss of vision, shortness of breath, and headaches were all symptoms along with protein in my urine. My daughter did not have a NICU stay and we were sent home as normal after.

Flash forward 2.5 years later we decide to have another baby. I quickly got pregnant and was due end of December. The first two trimesters were mild, nausea and fatigue, but overall okay. My doctors assured me that many times mothers only get preeclampsia the first pregnancy and never experience it again, but still I was much more aware. As soon as my third trimester hit, I was miserable, my body would ache, I was very uncomfortable, I noticed swelling all over my body, but wrote it off as normal. I would get headaches here and there, but because of my history of migraines, was told they couldn't trust that symptom. I would have shortness of breath but was told I had a panic attack. I did not feel right, something was wrong.

After being in and out of the hospital, my nurse at the practice sent me back at 30 weeks and 3 days. I kissed my 3-year-old and left, figuring I would return later. I stayed at the hospital for 20 days- they initially diagnosed me with gestational hypertension; I had no protein in my urine, but my blood pressure was rising. They initially said I would be going home the next day, then the next, before one of the doctors finally said, "we need to closely monitor you, we are keeping you here until 34 weeks."

I went through a round of magnesium and my blood pressure was kept at bay until 32 weeks, when my swelling got worse and the protein in my urine jumped. My doctors knew I wouldn't make it through the weekend. Saturday, November 5th I was only 32 weeks and 4 days, my NSTs were not good and my blood pressure spiked to 160s and 170s over 110. I was rushed to an emergency c-section and my daughter, Sahara, was born at 2lbs 6oz at 10:58pm. She went straight to the NICU and I didn't meet her until Monday. She spent twenty days in the NICU.

I look back and I still struggle... I made the decision to have my tubes removed and cannot have children naturally due to the high risk I face. I spent 20 days away from my husband, daughter, and pets. I spent another twenty days away from my baby, going back and forth to the NICU. My body stopped producing milk after three months. I never got skin-to-skin or the normal postnatal experiences and I never will. But I have two healthy babies and a new passion for healthcare, and am now on a path to becoming a nurse. Preeclampsia took so much away from me, but also gave me so much as well. I am lucky to come out with it the way I have, but I have been robbed of so much and am working to this day to overcome those losses. I am excited to one day be a nurse and to help those whose shoes I have been in. I am always going to be a fighter and I am so lucky that both my girls are fighters too. Preeclampsia is a part of our story and their journey here, and has shaped me into the woman I am today and my future career path.