August 22, 2017: The day started like any other: I woke up feeling the pure exhaustion of being 38 weeks pregnant and not being able to get a decent night’s rest in the hot summer heat. Something felt off. I felt nauseated and had a slight stomach issue that I found alarming. I got up, got ready for the day, and researched what it could be before I left for my weekly prenatal appointment at 9:30am. I had a gut feeling that something was different about this day and that I should have asked Josh to join me at this appointment. I felt as though what would be a routine check-up would end up at the hospital. It was just a feeling. I ended up not asking Josh to take the time off work because he was finishing everything for his paternity leave… I went alone.
While the nurse and I did our initial greeting and small chit-chat I noticed a quick change in her eye. She went from friendly to serious, but didn’t say a word. She continued to keep everything normal, commented on my severe feet swelling and I pointed out the leg swelling as well. She checked my blood pressure on my left arm… then she double checked it on my right arm… “Odd,” I thought to myself… then she checked it again on my left arm. She said she would be back and had me lie on my left side. She rushed back in and again, checked my blood pressure on both arms. Worry crept in. Finally, the doctor walked in. She explained that my blood pressure had risen, I had gained 10 pounds in one week, there was protein in my urine, and I would need to go to triage at the hospital straight after the appointment. She checked my cervix, I was 1cm dilated. She identified the evil culprit, preeclampsia.
When I walked into the triage of the 5th floor at the hospital I was hit by a overwhelming wall of vinegar. That didn’t calm my nerves. They checked me in immediately. Next thing I knew I was in a hospital gown being hooked up to monitors and having my blood pressure checked, again. The nurse said it was 169/120. A bit too high. It all happened so fast. I was scared and I was alone. I asked the doctor if I should call my husband to meet me, she said, “Yes. You should. You’re not leaving here without a baby.” I gave Josh a call and told him to come immediately. Then, I cried. This wasn’t how I expected my birthing story to go. Shouldn’t my water break and we grab the bags, rush with excitement, and Josh is there to hold my hand? The doctor walked in and calmed me down. She said my only job for now was to relax and try to lower my blood pressure. The only time I was able to relax was when Josh walked in like a freaking superhero with all the bags and sat down by my side. I was no longer alone.
Due to being 1cm dilated, (this baby wasn’t going to come for another week possibly), they started the induction process. They inserted a balloon to mechanically open my cervix. Eek. It was painful. After I was “dilated” to 4cm, they removed the balloon and gave me a break before they came in and manually broke my water. After breaking my water they started the pitocin to induce contractions. We are talking hours and hours here. My check-up was at 10am and I was sent straight to the hospital. Let’s say I got there about 11am, then we waited for my blood pressure to reduce until about 2:30pm… That was when the process was started. It took all night for the pitocin to dilate me to 10cm. It was painful. I made the call for pain meds. Then, they started the magnesium “drip.” Drip! Ha! More like flow! I immediately got nauseous and threw up. That’s the last thing I remembered in the awake world. I felt myself sink deeper and deeper into a relaxed sleep. I remember the thought, “Aww, this is nice, sleep. I feel so heavy,” only to hear a scream in my face, “ARE YOU OKAY? ARE YOU OKAY!?” It was the nurse. She said I had a seizure. I remember the sick nauseated feeling came back and I threw up again, only to have the same screaming voice in my face. She asked if I had a history of fainting, I had never fainted before in my life. This was a terrifying feeling. The lack of control and the fear of the unknown. I looked over at Josh who had wide eyes. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was okay. He wanted to be my rock and didn’t want me to see how scared he was… he was my rock. He was my strength through it all. The nurses reassured me that the baby’s heartbeat was beautiful and strong. To be honest, at this point, I was extremely drugged and have only bits and pieces of memory.
August 23, 2017: 10cm dilated. It’s time to start pushing. I had little strength left. Magnesium is one hell of a drug. I was a seizure risk. Josh was not allowed to leave the room without calling a nurse in to switch places. I wasn’t fully aware of the rules he was given at the time. Josh being Josh, he wouldn’t leave my side regardless. He went to the cafeteria for food, but he stocked up because he didn’t know when/if he’d go again.
“It’s time to start pushing!” said my enthusiastic nurse. She was cheerful and a breath of fresh air. Details are becoming a bit hazy for me, I do remember the doctor telling me to take a nap in-between a few contractions. After 2 hours and 40 minutes of pushing, I finally had my baby. He was born at 4:30pm, 8 lbs 11 oz. That’s a solid baby! I remember the oxygen mask being thrown on my face in-between contractions, and I remember asking for more epidural.
What felt like a minute after giving birth, my family walked in to visit. Seemed a bit too soon for me. I felt dizzy and kept my eyes closed for most of their visit. When they left to get coffee, my nurse checked on me. I had bled out 1,000 CC’s of blood. Apparently, my uterus stopped contracting and I had blood clots. To add insult to injury, they grabbed the ER doctor who shoved her hand into my body and pulled out as many blood clots as she could. They upped the pitocin to kick-start the uterus. They pushed as hard as they could on my stomach and I felt blood gush out like Niagara Falls. This continued over and over, about once every hour. I asked the nurse what the possible outcome might be. She stated I could hemorrhage, which will lead to emergency surgery. I looked over at Josh holding the new baby and thought to myself, “This is it. I could be leaving him with this baby to take care of without me.” If it weren’t for the hospital and highly trained medical staff, I could have died. That image and that thought still haunts me. Luckily, I had the best care at my hospital. After what felt like a decade, (a couple of days), I was cleared to move up to the 7th floor, (the baby floor, I’ll call it), with my new family. About time! Most new mommys get to hold their babies, start the process of breastfeeding, and bond with the new love of their life. I felt robbed of the experience. I didn’t get to hold my baby for hours and I wasn’t allowed to care for him. I was on hospital bedrest while my husband had to learn how to be an immediate dad.
I am happy to report that first and foremost, my baby is healthy as can be! We had our first pediatric checkup yesterday and he is doing great! I seriously can’t stop staring at him. He’s my world. I am also pleased to say my recovery has been going well! I am now struggling with the normal woes of labor that women deal with postpartum. I do have high blood pressure still and must monitor it daily, while watching for 3 very specific symptoms that may come on, but each day is better than the last.
A perfect pregnancy ended with a scary delivery. Preeclampsia sets in out of nowhere. The week prior to my final prenatal appointment, my doctor had explained that I didn’t have preeclampsia and my swelling was normal pregnancy swelling.
Preeclampsia is no joke. If you are pregnant, read up on it and watch for its signs. It can be fatal to both mom and baby.