Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Preeclampsia was something that until last month all I'd known about it was that the writers of downton abbey used it to kill off my favorite character. I know it's naive to think about now but, I didn't consider it being something that people still died from, or much less still encountered before now. I didn't read up on it in my pregnancy books, because it didn't seem like something worth worrying over, it seemed like more of a myth...That is until I went to the monthly doctor visit and was told my blood pressure was too high and to report to the hospital maternity wing for observation and testing.

The Dr. told me that day, that at the hospital they'd be monitoring for preeclampsia, and knowing that it could be fatal, I was concerned. But still, I thought it was probably nothing, perhaps my blood pressure was off that day, or the under-treated neuropathic pain, or fibromyalgia, had spiked it somehow. As I sat in triage the nurses put on the baby monitor on my stomach for baby's heart beat to indicate stress and the contraction monitor to see how my uterus was doing. After 20 minutes of monitoring and other tests it showed that my blood pressure was elevated above what it should be. Yet my blood test results were good and although there was protein found, it wasn't necessary to keep me. I was told to just monitor my blood pressure at home and come back in two days for more observation and tests.

I went home feeling like I'd dodged a bullet. Although I felt worse over the next two days and my blood pressure was wonky, I thought that I'd just go in early to mention it to the Dr and then be reassured it was nothing and go to the wedding we had planned to attend. After mentioning the pain in my ribs,  the little spots I saw through my slightly more blurred vision, the Dr ran more tests and they showed elevated levels of a variety of preeclampsia markers. The Dr. decided to keep me for observation and so began the catch and release program, through which I went from 34 weeks pregnant to delivering my son at 36 weeks. Those two weeks I spent mostly in and rarely out of the hospital being monitored and tested daily as my levels rose and symptoms worsened. It was when I stopped keeping sips of water down and my liver enzymes rose that the Drs decided to induce me as my preeclampsia was explained as being too dangerous to keep monitoring. After being induced I was in labor for 5 hours and gave birth to my son, who after a few seconds after being put on my stomach wasn't breathing and was rushed to the NICU. The next two hours were more terrifying than anything I could have imagined I was told he was having trouble breathing and that I needed to pass the placenta, be stabilized, and stitched up before I could see him. I tried to will my body to be better, to summon any last bit of energy I had just to be able to see him and see that he was okay. It mattered very little to me, if I was stable or stitched up I had to know he'd be okay, nothing else mattered. My mind raced as to why no one had come to say he was okay yet.  My husband had gone with him to the NICU and the nurses were dead set on keeping me in my room and in my bed. My mind raced as to what went wrong, what had I done wrong, but the Dr.s and nurses couldn't say if it had been anyone's fault as there is no known cause for preeclampsia. It wasn't a reassuring or supportive environment as it had been before the birth, afterward it felt cold and prison like. The early warmth and joy that came with the observation part our catch and release time, had now come to an abrupt end and I felt alone, guilty, and scared like I never had before.

We were kept a few days as my son needed the CPAP to breath the first 24hrs, and visitors came and went. I just wanted to be alone secretly feeling a mixture of emotions but mainly that birth was traumatic and scary; confused as to why people thought it was glorious. When my milk supply did eventually show up to the party it was lacking greatly and so my son had to be started on formula right away. It felt like a failure of motherhood times two. The NICU nurses were kind to me and I felt somewhat safer and calmer sitting by the incubator where I could see him breathing and make sure he was okay. When visitors came I felt more like a circus act than a joyous mother. This was not what I had imagined motherhood to be like, this was terrifying and overwhelming. In the moments alone with my son I felt immeasurable joy, as I saw him and held him. Watching every movement not wanting to miss out on a second. The time passed and we were both cleared by Dr.'s to go home, I was excited and mostly because I thought we'd finally get to be alone together just him and I. Suddenly new challenges awaited us and I had no idea what was in store.

~Elysia B       


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