Today’s guest author is Angie, who shared her story of premature birth due to pre-eclampsia for Pre-eclampsia Awareness Day.
My husband and I married in 2009. We knew we wanted our own family and were eager to welcome our first baby, Adriana, in April 2010. We knew after we had Adriana that we wanted a second child so Adriana could have a sibling to grow up with.
We planned our second baby and everything worked out perfectly. I was still in Nursing school but we knew if I got pregnant in May 2012 that we would expect our bundle after graduation and after we were settled back into a normalcy. On Father’s Day of 2012, I placed a picture of Adriana with a dry erase board saying we were welcoming a new baby in February 2013- the 23rd.
We went to all of our appointments and we were right on track and healthy in all aspects. We went to our 20 week ultrasound and found out we were having a boy! This was so exciting for us!! Who knew that six weeks later we would see our baby?
Once October 2012 hit, I was feeling so tired all of the time. I thought it was from staying up late studying, running after a big blended family of five, and being a mom. At this point we only told a select few people that we were pregnant. We wanted to savor every moment of this pregnancy and keep it special.
November 19th, 2012 I was in class and was not feeling well. I would get hot and cold and sweaty and I was having a hard time breathing. I would take large breaths and I felt like there wasn’t enough air in my lungs. The breathing part had been happening at least a week. I assumed it was the baby pushing on my lungs as he was growing bigger. A classmate suggested I had heart burn. I had never had heart burn in my life so who was I to know what it felt like?
That evening when I came home, I was in tears. I tried everything I could to reduce the heart burn I had, a hot shower, a hot bath, medication that was on the approved list. My husband suggested that I go in to the hospital. I was against that because I didn’t want to look foolish to go in for heart burn. In the middle of the night I woke my husband up as I wanted to go in. Our daughter called out for me. When I went to care for her, I fell asleep out of exhaustion right next to her. I told my husband I would for sure call the doctor to let them know so they could at least chart it.
Tuesday November 20, 2012, I called and informed the receptionist of what was going on and she suggested I come in. I set up the time, told my oldest son I loved him and would be back soon as I was just going for a quick check up. I would have never guessed I wouldn’t see him for a week. I got to the doctor’s office and the medical assistant took my urine and took my blood pressure. My urine showed a 3+ of protein and my blood pressure was 160/118. She told me my blood pressure, asked me to lay on my left side, and waited to repeat it. My normal blood pressure is usually 90/60. (Two or more blood pressure readings of 140/90 with protein in your urine is classified as mild pre-eclampsia). My doctor asked me to go directly across the street to the hospital as she suspected this was pre-eclampsia. She wanted to run other tests as I didn’t fit the typical outline for a person with this.
I called my husband at work. I told him I had to go to the hospital and he wanted to know details. I told him it isn’t good and they want to do some tests. Everything was a whirlwind and happened so fast. Looking back so many things are a blur. I wish I had been better educated on pre-eclampsia. I heard the heart beat in the office. We planned this and wanted this baby. I am healthy and have no medical problems. How could this be happening to me?
The nursing staff was waiting, drawing blood, collecting urine, testing for gallbladder, took my blood pressure every 15 minutes, and put me on medication for blood pressure and pain. My doctor told me I may need to take a indefinite leave from nursing school.
My blood work came back. My ALT, which shows if the liver is damaged, was 49 (high). The reason I couldn’t breathe was because my liver was enlarging. My hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to organs, was 1.8 (low). My platelets were low at 104,000 and dropped to 75,000 (normal is 150,000-400,000). My blood was no longer clotting. My numbers were getting worse.
The doctors came in the next morning and said they wanted to transfer me to a high specialty hospital that had more knowledge of HELLP syndrome, class 2. Even though I wasn’t a typical case, this is what the doctors suspected I might have.
I tried so hard to stay calm- making conversation with nurses, the ambulance men – everyone. I had no idea what was going on or how serious this was. Thank God I am here to share my story.
My husband met me at the specialty hospital. I was given magnesium sulfate upon arrival to reduce the chance of seizures. They wanted to prep me for an emergency c-section. Wait? Wait!?
I called my mom. I could hardly speak. I was in pure shock. I told her they wanted me to have the baby. She asked if I wanted her there and she said she was on her way. She KNEW what to expect – I was a preemie. I was currently 26 weeks pregnant. This baby would be 14 weeks early. NO – this was not right. He needed to stay put. I was supposed to have a shower, do pictures, celebrate. Not this. The doctors tried to prepare us for blindness, deafness, lung disease, and many other things.
A doctor came in and did an ultrasound of the baby. This showed absent end diastolic flow. This means there is fetal vascular stress and placental insufficiency. We were told he wasn’t getting appropriate oxygen and nutrients. The baby was positioned in a breech footling position. In this position,one or both of the baby’s feet point downward and will deliver before the rest of the body. A c-section was necessary. A c-section was also preferred since the stress of labor may not be well tolerated by a baby of 26 weeks gestation. Since my blood was not clotting, it was best to be put under and have the c-section so I didn’t bleed to death.
I was wheeled back to the operating room and prepared for surgery. They were going to take my baby from his current home in my uterus so that we could both survive. I felt like I was being crucified – arms out, clothes gone, and a sheet pulled up towards the ceiling below my neck. No one was with me. Not my husband or my mom. What if I didn’t wake up? Who would take care of my kids? Who would replace me? My son would never know me.
Two people were complaining, another two were giggling. My hair cover slid into my eyes. I was crying and I was alone. My husband was not allowed in with me. I laid there and prayed for our lives. I remember nothing else.
My husband tells me they immediately took our baby, our son, to the children’s hospital to be admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care unit. We did not have names ready but decided on Maxwell William.
He was born November 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm. He weighed 1 pound 8 ounces and was 12 inches long. He was a micro- preemie. He had a head full of black hair. He had respiratory distress syndrome and was given a breathing tube right away. He was small for his gestational age, but still in the normal range.
He was the size of two cell phones. He weighed less then a loaf of bread. His head was the size of a dinner biscuit. His thigh was the size of your index finger.
I couldn’t see Max for two days until I was stable enough myself and able to stand and be off of the magnesium sulfate. My blood pressure got as high as 240/180. I am lucky I didn’t have a stroke. We had some visitors and while I was thankful, I didn’t feel right accepting their congratulations. It made me sad that others were able to visit our son before me.
One of my closest friends visited me and that is when I was able to go see my son. I was ready. I was so excited. I was wheeled down to see Max. I had seen pictures of me so I knew what to expect, right?
Wrong! My friend tried being so positive and uplifting. I am so glad she was there with me and my husband. I cried seeing him with all of the tubes and lines coming out of his little body. His skin was thin like tissue paper. His little chest was rising and falling so quickly as the oxygen was pumped into his lungs. He lay on a tiny burp cloth – it was his bed sheet.
Things in life are quickly put into perspective of what is important and not important now. Houses, cars, and possessions are no longer a priority. Others can have it – we just wanted our baby alive.
Max had infections, spinal taps, blood transfusions, surgeries and survived it all. Today we are lucky to have a healthy two year old. He is in therapy and overcame many odds. We have our celebrations and our challenges. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I did graduate from school. I went back to school the day after I came home the hospital. I am now a nurse and focus on corporate wellness. I am also creating a business in relation to parents of preemies. I bring expertise and value to them by being heart centered and working through any and all needs they have to get through their journey from day to day.
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