Here is the story of my preeclampsia experience and tips to survive. I did. You can too.
First of all we should talk about pregnancy and childbirth as a whole.
My Preeclampsia experience and tips to survive are necessary because all of our journeys are different but relating to each other can help.
I can admit to having a very fantastical view about what pregnancy and childbirth would be for me.
I would get pregnant right away, have this beautiful non-eventful pregnancy with all the bells and whistles. Photoshoots. Showers. Compliments. Work till the very day of delivery (that ended up semi-happening).
Well Preeclampsia and the treatment for it would cause my pregnancy story to take a very different turn. Before you get afraid, this story does not end in heartbreak. Although so many of my sisters in this country have a very different outcome. 6.4 per 10,000 cases die during delivery due to preeclampsia says the CDC.
Preeclampsia is a serious health problem for pregnant women around the world.
It affects 2 to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide (2 to 8 in 100). In the United States, it’s the cause of 15 percent (about 3 in 20) of premature births. Premature birth is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Here’s my story. I didn’t get pregnant immediately after I started trying. However right when I was about to start with the ovulation calculators etc I did get pregnant naturally. That would prove to be the beginning of a very fertile period in my life . More on that at a later date 🙂
My OB Experience
I was working full time in Boca for an amazing firm. My OBGYN was nearby. My chosen hospital was also in the vicinity of work. Not just because I was there every day, so why not, but they were and still are some of the best at what they do.
I was fully active and uninhibited for my entire pregnancy up until this point. There is a saying in my culture, “no grass was growing under my feet”. I went to work, socialized and kept all my commitments. I was never nauseous not even for a moment. For all intents and purposes it would seem like a perfect pregnancy.
At about 26 weeks we started noticing that when I would get home from work or after an event my feet would be swollen.
For the first few days, we shrugged it off saying “2nd trimester stuff”, “working too hard”, “too many social events”.
After this continued to happen I said I would mention at my next checkup. So said, so done and that would be the first mention I would hear about preeclampsia.
I was not the avid “googler” then as I am now.
From then on is where this story turns to a potentially life threatenting one. Let me explain that I had NEVER had an instance of high blood pressure prior to now.
I had never had my hands or feet swollen for any reason or had protein in my urine.
Even on the check up date I previously mentioned none of the symptoms that are most commonly associated with preeclampsia present.
However as I also mentioned, my caregivers I still consider to this day to be phenomenal. I recognize that other women have had horror stories. My OBGYN listened to every concern. The office took every phone call, strange feeling, upset I had into consideration every step of the way.
TIPS FOR SURVIVAL
One morning in my 29th week of pregnancy, something just wasn’t right. I had instances of swollen joints off and on, still no rise in blood pressure at my visits or that I felt at home and no protein in my urine. I was on my way to work and I just felt “funny”.
Tip # 1 Woman Know thyself – listen to your body no matter how insignificant it may seem. I hadn’t felt Keturah (Sweet Fragrance) kicking or moving much from the night before. My body felt kind of “still”, if that makes sense. It should not, I thought, since I have someone growing inside me.
My next decision probably saved both of our lives.
Tip # 2 Go immediately to your professional. Because it was my baby and not a broken fingernail let’s say, I decided I was just going to stop by my doctor’s office on the way to work. It can’t hurt. Do not always wait for the next appointment. Go right away. That is why it’s so important to have professionals that are diligent and listen to their patients.
“Good morning Darlene, what are you doing here? We don’t see you until net week.” They know me.
“I know but I’m just not feeling right”, I said. “Ok, come to the back”. I did not have to wait to be seen or move my appointment up.
Tip # 3 Get a full exam. Since I showed up and expressed my concern I was given a full exam. If it is not offered, demand it. You are not the professional and you just don’t know what’s wrong, do not dismiss it. With the urine test, blood test, blood pressure check, sonogram and pelvic check, guess what was determined?
My blood pressure was at some astronomical level never before read in my body, there was protein in my urine and my feet showed some swelling.
“You’ve just earned yourself a trip to the hospital, call work and tell them you’re not coming”.
Those were the exact words of “Hot Doc” (we don’t call him that to his face). I was sent to the hospital immediately and they were going to call ahead with instructions.
I called my husband and my job and went immediately.
Upon arrival I was admitted and put on every possible monitor you can imagine for this type of situation. Rotating blood pressure cuff. Heart monitor for me. Heart monitor for baby. Pulse Monitor to start.
Remember, this is MY Preeclampcsia Experience and Tips to Survive.
When my doctor arrived for rounds that evening I was 29 weeks, 5 days pregnant. He said, “you are either staying here until your blood pressure stabilizes or your due date.”
To be honest because of the type of care and support I had gotten thus far I was not terrified by this.
My only thought was that is either a really short or a really long time. How is that possible?
He explained that because since he had seen me this morning my blood pressure had been doing roller coasters and that was not sustainable with me being at home for this specific complication I would need to remain hospitalized.
At this point all the prayer warriors, well wishers and supplies support team started coming out of the woodwork. I had not had a baby shower yet obviously. 29 weeks is almost 3 months from the due date, so there was still a lot not yet done in preparation for baby.
Tip #4 – Prepare Early (click for more tips about parenting after 40) I’m not saying go overboard but with your first especially, once you’re past the “first trimester scare” factor, put in place certain foundation things. Crib/Bassinet, Go-bag, Couple days clothing for baby, diapers and delivery support team if you’ll have one. Now there are also such things as “birth-plan doulas” like @sanyika.the.doula . I did not know anything about that at the time.
Now you’re having a premature baby
Cut to the chase you say, by the very next day with the instability of my blood pressure, preeclampsia affecting my health and then finally Keturah’s heart rate started to drop…..I had to have an emergency c-section. It could not have been ½ hour between the time the decision was made and the time that my baby was delivered.
Here in lies my BIGGEST tip of all
Tip #5: Be Heard I understand that every woman’s birth story is different. Mine might have been a cake walk compared to what some other wonderful woman went through.
Tell everyone that will listen how you are feeling. Make sure your nurses are around regularly to communicate to your doctors.
Barring something that will diminish your capacity, have the type of birth experience you and your professionals planned.
Make sure your support team knows and have it in writing if necessary what your wishes are.
Keturah was 29 weeks 6 days, 2lbs. 4oz, 21in of perfect!
Gestational Preeclampsia was all that was wrong with my baby. She wanted out.
After Keturah was born within 24-48 hours my blood pressure completely normalized and has never been an issue since.
I went on to have 3 more children within the next 4 years. Now, we will talk more in another article about what came after.
It is my hope that these tips and my story can aid other women in preparation for what may happen in their pregnancy.
I had to educate myself after the fact. There was very limited information provided prior whether it be because of not wanting to scare me, maybe it was too early in the pregnancy to mention it or that my pregnancy was so uneventful prior.
Whatever the reason, please arm yourself with knowledge so you can be prepared.
Keturah was in the NICU for 3 months. Isn’t she beautiful? Until next time remember, live your life awfully simple!