· By Tiny Hearts Education
Ollie 7•26•22 2lbs 5 oz. This is my story about my experience with preeclampsia and my NICU baby. Understand this is still very fresh. I am sharing this just 7 days after giving birth. I want to share this because I don't think it is spoken about enough. There is not enough information about it. Most women do not expect to have premature births, so they are not looking out for the signs of when to get help. Here are a few signs I should have listened to: slightly swollen ankles, dizziness (room spinning), headaches, exhaustion, and heavy chest. My mother also had experienced preeclampsia with her 3 pregnancies, so it was always on my mind. At my OB appointments, my blood pressure would be high but not of very serious concern (135-155/90-99). My OB put me on a low-dose aspirin at 20 weeks to just be on the safe side. Everyone around me thought I was taking pregnancy like a champ and never noticed me having any issues. My partner knew what I was experiencing but thought it was normal, just like I did. Underneath, my body was begging for help. I am usually a healthy person with no known health issues. But it seemed my body was not ok when I was pregnant. It was not ok sharing nutrients with another person.
About midday Sunday, I began making remarks about how I hadn't felt any kicks or flutters. He was normally moving very regularly at this point, and I would even have kicks that would kind of take my breath away sometimes. My partner and I joked that he was resting and just sleeping in. It was a relaxing day, and we hadn't done much. Sunday evening came around, and I sat at the restaurant table with my mother and said I still hadn't felt him move. We contemplated if anything was really wrong and decided to continue our dinner and shopping. We also had just sent out our baby shower invitations that evening which was planned for August 21st. My partner and mom thought this was just my health anxiety, and I was overthinking it. We made it home, and I went inside and grabbed my at-home doppler. I found his heart rate quickly and it was at 151 which was normal. I decided to just take a quick look online and see what I should do if I don't feel movement at 30 weeks. Every post said there should be about 10 movements every 2 hours. I then became extremely concerned. I called my mother because my partner was asleep and needed to wake up at 2AM to go to work. She agreed we should head to the ER just to make sure.
We had a nice ride over and just chatted about the baby shower plans, her graduating with her masters in just 3 weeks, and how excited we were to meet this little pumpkin…. Normal chit-chat. We walk into a packed ER at 10PM. We get to the counter, and my mother says, "my daughter doesn't have her ID, but she is 30 weeks pregnant and hasn't felt her baby move much in the last 24 hours." He immediately rushes from behind the counter, sits me in a wheelchair, and brings me to labour and delivery triage. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor. Ollie seemed just fine for the first 20 minutes. Bub's heart rate had multiple "variable drops", which could be of zero concern. My blood pressure was high (150+/95+) every time. My nurse seemed very calm, and we talked about my birth plan: a vaginal birth with no epidural or induction, no constant fetal monitoring, and the ability to labour at home as much as possible. They did a urine analysis, and it came back with protein in my urine. I was immediately moved into a room, changed into a gown, had blood drawn, started on fluids, and began a 24-hour urine analysis. I was not at all aware of the severity. My mother came back from her car with tears in her eyes and said, "I don't think you realize what's going on. This means this baby is coming early, and you are sick." Nothing was processing. It's still mostly a blur, not a happy memory I always hoped my labour would be. I was then diagnosed with severe preeclampsia.
At that time, my partner was at home sleeping as he had to work early the next morning. I had an ultrasound, and Ollie scored an 8/8. They then gave me my first round of steroids to prepare Ollie for life outside the womb. I lay there shocked and confused, not having a single clue what was going on. Monday at 8AM, my OB came in. Asked if I had experienced light headedness or headaches, to which I said yes. I had MULTIPLE spells of dizziness and headaches, which I thought was normal for being pregnant during the heat of summer. She stated that my blood pressure never really improved overnight, and his heart rate was not looking perfect. She wanted to do an ultrasound herself. She discovered he was, in fact, measuring at 28 weeks when he was 30+5 and just over 2lbs. I also had low amniotic fluid. She then decided to start us on a magnesium drip. This was to help his brain but could also help with my blood pressure. It didn't help much, and I was on a lot of it. My blood pressure went above 170/110 multiple times, and he was having prolonged drops in his heart rate.
Tuesday morning, my OB came in to discuss what she saw overnight and the results from my urine analysis. My protein level was 1,886mg when you only need 300mg for a preeclampsia diagnosis. She said she was expecting to deliver within the next 24-48 hours, depending on how his next ultrasound went. The ultrasound tech came, and Ollie didn't move a single time within the 35 minutes of the scan. She pushed around rough on my tummy trying to wake him, and he wouldn't budge. He also kept roughly the same heart rate, meaning he hadn't woken up. He scored a 4/8. With us both having an ongoing decline in our health, my OB decided it was time to bring him out. I sat on the edge of the bed in the OR, unable to hold myself upright. I leaned on my nurse. The anesthesiologist said we were doing a spinal. I was terrified. It honestly did not hurt at all. It was slightly uncomfortable knowing something was poking into my back, but I felt no pain. My adrenaline was high, and I couldn't focus on anything other than the fact that this baby was going to come out.
At 12:31 PM my son was delivered with my partner sitting by my side rubbing my hand. We were grinning ear to ear. My partner got to go with him to the NICU while I got stitched back up. I was rolled to my room, where my mother, father, and partner waited for my arrival. My son wasn't there. It felt lonely. I didn't get to hold him when he was born, let alone look into his sweet eyes. I felt exhausted and drained of emotion. I immediately started feeling better physically. My vision came back as it was blurry for the last 48 hours, and the room wasn't spinning. But there was something of me missing. I felt my tummy empty, and the newborn cot in my room was empty too. I could hear other babies on the floor crying but not my own. It was a horribly long 26 hours before I met my son. It was 5 full days before I got to hold him for the first time. He now sleeps in his isolette in the NICU while my partner and I sleep 25 minutes away in our bed at home.
We are expected to be taking him home in about 2 months. But at the moment, he is stable and doing well. I physically feel pretty good despite just having a cesarean section. My heart and head hurt with such pain most do not understand. I feel severe guilt knowing Ollie was not getting what he needed from me. We watch him lie there covered in wires and cords, not being able to just pick him up when we want to. It feels extremely lonely because few people can say they truly understand. I share my story, hoping it helps mamas get help before it's too late. Look out for your pregnant family members and friends. You could save their lives. I could not have done this without my amazing partner Aaron or the support of our family. I also know that Ollie is being taken care of by an exceptional team of health professionals. Listen to your body mama🤍
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