When I got pregnant at age 29, I was in perfect physical condition. I was at my ideal weight and worked out regularly. Once I found out I was pregnant, I slowed down my workouts and took good care of myself. All of my prenatal visits were normal, nothing seemed to be going wrong.
Somehow though I never seemed to be getting big enough. I started wearing maternity clothes only at 6 months. People would sometimes say "where are you hiding that baby?". Why should I worry about it, since everything seemed OK??
During my regular prenatal visit at about 24 weeks my doctor said everything was fine. I even had an ultrasound which showed my baby's measurements to be normal. Shortly after that visit (only a few days) I began having swelling that was totally out of control. My feet became like tree trunks early in the morning and swelled all day. However, I didn't have any other problems, no swelling in the hands (my rings fit), no seeing stars, no headaches. My colleagues to me to call my doctor anyway since my legs were really too swollen. My doctor told me that my swelling was "normal" (I was only just starting my seventh month) and not to worry. She gave me a prescription for the swelling, but never took my blood pressure.
By my next appointment, and after about 3 weeks of bad swelling, my blood pressure was 160/100 and my doctor could see serious growth retardation in the fetus. Immediately I was hospitalized without anyone saying the word "pre-eclampsia" as the name of the disease I had. I was totally in the dark knowing only that I was getting steroids to help the baby develop, that I had protein in my urine and that probably I would have to deliver early by cesarean section. I was allowed to go home on total bed rest with the hopes of reducing my blood pressure, but one week later, during a routine non-stress test (monitoring of the baby's heartbeat) the nurses felt that the baby's heartbeat was getting weaker. I told them I didn't feel much fetal movement. The two things together determined that I was in the hospital again. My blood pressure remained high.
That night I called my husband who was out of town and told him I was in the hospital but was OK. I said goodbye, I'd see him the next day not to worry. Later that evening about 9.30 pm, a nurse finally got around to giving me my non-stress test which was usually done much earlier. As time passed, she let the fetal monitor continue instead of stopping it after 20 or 30 minutes. I watched as she looked more and more worried. After 2 hours of monitoring, me not moving at all and listening to my baby's heartbeat, she finally told me that there were "breaks" in the rhythm that could indicate that the heart was stopping. Around 11:30 pm a doctor came to my room and told me that the baby had to be taken "right now". I did not have time to call my husband to let him know. I couldn't have an epidural, I had to have a general anesthetic. There was no time for an epidural. I had no information on how a cesarean section worked, and had no idea what was going to happen to me. All I knew was that I was alone and I had to have a cesarean section immediately.
My baby girl was born at 12.39 am that night without anyone knowing (not even myself as I was totally unconscious). I woke up the next day with only the news that she was doing ok, and was in neo-natal. She was born at 30 weeks and weighed 2 pounds 14 oz. I got a hold of my husband that morning at his hotel to tell the him the news that our baby was born. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
Three years later, my baby girl is now a "big girl". She is doing fine and hasn't had any complications from her difficult beginnings. She is full of life and is as happy and healthy as any other 3 year old. Since then I've learned a lot about pre-eclampsia. I don't understand why this disease is so "bypassed" by doctors when it affects 6-8 % of all women. If I'd been given more information about it and about its seriousness I may have been more worried when I started swelling. I had a lot of other pregnancy information, but very little on pre-eclampsia. I am now pregnant with my second child and haven't had any problems at all. I count my blessings every day.