I had a picture-perfect pregnancy - no morning sickness, no swelling, just a lot of fatigue - until my 26th week. My estimated due date (according to the first ultrasound) was June 11. In early- to mid-March, I started swelling. I had gained a lot of water weight that month. No biggie; all pregnant women swell, right? Anyway, I had a tough couple of weeks at work, so I figured that was the cause. What I didn't realize is that I had gained a whopping 24 pounds that month.
Monday of my 28th week, I awoke feeling nauseous, and I threw up bile in the bathroom sink, so I stayed home from work. I went in Tuesday and Wednesday, and I even worked a little overtime that Thursday. Wednesday, I had a doctor's appointment. She said that there was a little protein in my urine. (Found out later that the reading was +4!) I was to fill a jug with a full day's urine that coming Sunday and bring it into the office on Monday for evaluation. I figured that they would diagnose me pre-eclampsic and make me leave work the following week. No biggie, I thought. My husband's cousin and aunt had both been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and just stayed in bed. I thought it was a nice excuse to leave work earlier than I had planned. No one, including my doctor, ever told me that pre-eclampsia was a life-threatening illness.
Friday morning (March 24, 2000), I awoke with a migraine, my first ever, and I threw up bile again. My husband stayed home from work to take me to the chiropractor; for once, he couldn't do anything for my headache. I later found out that my chiropractor pulled my husband aside that day and told him to keep a close watch on me, because he'd never seen me doing so poorly. When we got home, I called my OB, who called in a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine. That afternoon, about 30 minutes after taking the medicine, I felt my body jerk. I set down my water bottle and said to my husband, "That was weird!" Then it jerked much more violently, and I knew what was happening: I was having a seizure. I had never had one before, but I knew. After the second convulsion, I tried to tell my husband, "I'm having a seizure," but the words that came out were, "What's happening to me?" I blacked out during the third convulsion. Thank goodness this didn't happen while I was driving to the pharmacy!
Of course, when I started convulsing, my husband was very frightened. He got me onto the floor and dialed 911. There was blood on the floor, which scared him even more. (We found out later that I had bitten my tongue viciously.) About three minutes later, the paramedics arrived, and told my husband that it was eclampsia. They put me in the ambulance, and I was jarred awake for about a second. Strangely enough, I wasn't scared at all. I was pretty ambivalent about the whole situation. They told us later that my blood pressure in the ambulance was 220/110.
When we arrived at the hospital, I'm told that I suffered another seizure in the emergency room. I awoke briefly to a doctor who told me his name and that they were going to perform a c-section to take my baby. I remember him telling me that the baby had a good chance for survival and that they would give me an epidural if I wanted to be awake for the operation. I remember the nurse scraping a razor blade over my tummy to shave it, and my husband changing into his "Daddy Clothes."
Suddenly, I was being wheeled into an operating room, and they were helping me sit up to have the epidural put in. She had a very difficult time getting it in - in my messed-up state of mind, I had forgotten to tell her that I have a slight case of scoliosis. Knowing this, she could have compensated. Well, the epidural didn't take, and I had to be put under general anesthesia for the operation. This upset me, since it meant that my husband couldn't be present. Exactly four hours after my initial seizure, they delivered my son. The next thing I knew, I was awake in recovery.
I was still pretty out of it at this point. They had me on Demerol and Magnesium Sulfate for the next day or so. The Mag made it impossible for me to move my lower extremities, and the Dem made me pretty stupid. My husband had to give me water every half hour when the automatic blood pressure cuff went off that night, which I wasn't allowed to swallow (they didn't want me to throw up and tear out my staples). I have never been so thirsty in my life. After coming off all the meds, the worst part of my recovery was actually my tongue! I had bitten it so badly that my whole face was black and blue. It hurt to eat for a couple of weeks, but it, and I, was back to my normal self six weeks later. After another month, my blood pressure was back down to 100/70.
Nicolas was 1 lb. 10.5 oz., 13.75 inches long, and he had Apgars of 7 and 9. He came off the intubator the next day, which is remarkable. On May 24, his two-month birthday, Nicolas came home with Mommy and Daddy, and he has had no major complications. He was developmentally delayed for a couple of years, but has since caught up nicely with his peers. He is a joy, and at 2 years, 10 months, he is bright and energetic.
I now have a new OB/GYN . . . the doctor who delivered Nicolas. He has seen me through a couple of uterine surgeries (unrelated to the preeclampsia), and I trust him implicitly to see me through my current pregnancy. He will begin seeing me weekly at 24 weeks to check my blood pressure and protein levels, and I am confident that everything will be done to monitor me and the baby as closely as possible. As for my former OB/GYN, she, with many other doctors I'm sure, need to be taught the real dangers of preeclampsia. The lack of knowledge about this disease is frightening.