Pre-Eclampsia


Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I got the urge to write a post about my experience with pre-eclampsia.  I have been watching this show on emotions on PBS and there was a segment on PTSD.  That made me think about how some parents with children in the NICU experience PTSD it also made me think of how scared and lonely I was, when I had pre-eclampsia.

It was my second pregnancy.  I had not gained much weight, but I had awful morning sickness for months.  I was trying very hard to watch my diet and to exercise and to sleep well, since the first pregnancy I had gestational diabetes.  Things were going well, then in about my 6th month, I started getting really out of breath.  I thought, well I’m pregnant and we have a lot of stairs in my house.  As time passed, I developed an awful cough and felt like I was drowning if I laid flat.  I would wake up gasping for air.  I went to the doctor for a normal checkup and she noticed I gained 20 pounds in one week.  Everything else was ok.  She seemed concerned, but told me to just take it easy and come in next week.  She also gave me some meds for my cough, since I thought it was a cold.  I also had been having really strong pain in my upper abdomen.  I thought the baby was kicking too hard, or that I overdid it picking up my other child.  Everytime I did an online search it came up with pre-eclampsia but I didn’t fit the other symptoms so I didn’t call the doctor.  My feet swelled and so did my hands.  In one day my feet swelled to three times their size, so I had to get new sneakers, since my feet didn’t fit into my other ones.  It was the fourth of July and it was hot out so I thought it was the weather and so did everyone else.  Finally I was getting so uncomfortable and my best friend said call the doctor for a water pill.  So I did and they told me they don’t prescribe water pills, I had to come in.  This was 3 days before I was due for my next appointment.  I went in and was sent to the hospital.  Protein was spilling into my urine and my pressure was spiking.  If my best friend had not told me to call the doctor, my baby and I could have died.  I was moved to a hospital with a NICU and ended up giving birth six weeks early.  My pressure did not come down after delivering and I was very sick.  My organs were being effected, I now had HELLP syndrome and I had a baby who I didn’t hold yet in the NICU. 

The scariest thing for me was after my husband would leave at night and I was alone in my room.  I cried because I was scared of how sick I was without even knowing.  You always assume when you are sick that you would feel sick.  Like you couldn’t get out of bed, or you’d have nagging symptoms, but pre-eclampsia and blood pressure are known as the silent killer, because some people don’t have symptoms.  I was scared because I didn’t get to hold my baby and bond with her.  I was scared to be alone and know my pressure was not coming down.  I was jealous of all the people all around me with healthy babies that I could hear.  It was a really sad time for me.  Then I had to come home without my baby.  Which is rough and then when she was well enough to come home I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to take care of a preemie, since they are not like healthy babies- they have different needs.  All in all it was very scary and some days I didn’t know how I’d go on.  But I did and looking back I wish there was more available for moms in that situation.

So anytime you think something is not right with your health, ask your doctor.  Several times in the month before I got sick I heard or read about pre-eclampsia or heard of someone with a preemie and I thought that’s not me, I eat well (since some places think there’s a tie to pre-eclampsia and healthy eating or nutrition).  I also thought that can’t be me, I have pre-natal care.  But it can be you and it can happen to anyone. 

This is a list of who is at risk from Web MD:

Who Is at Risk for Preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is most often seen in first-time pregnancies and in pregnant teens and women over 40. Other risk factors include:

  • A history of high blood pressure prior to pregnancy.
  • Previous history of preeclampsia.
  • A history of preeclampsia in mother or sisters.
  • Obesity prior to pregnancy.
  • Carrying more than one baby.
  • History of diabetes, kidney disease, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis

I didn’t fit any of these.  When I first went into the hospital the nurses were shocked that I was on my second pregnancy and had pre-eclampsia. 

These are the signs from WebMD:

What are the Signs of Preeclampsia?

In addition to swelling, protein in the urine, and high blood pressure, symptoms of preeclampsia can include:

  • Rapid weight gain caused by a significant increase in bodily fluid
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe headaches
  • A change in reflexes
  • Reduced output of urine or no urine
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive vomiting and nausea

So I should have mentioned I was having abdominal pain, but I didn’t know it was something serious at the time.  Also my weight gain was unexplained because there were not any other real issues with my fluids or pressure.  But please if you are pregnant or anyone you know is pregnant, keep this in mind.  Also remember you are not alone and it does help to journal or talk to someone about what you feel. 

I welcome any comments.

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