It is 7 am on Monday, December 24, 2012; I am 33 weeks/6 days along with a baby boy and perched up on the exam table at my OB/GYN’s office. The nurse came in and took my blood pressure. She instructed me to lie on my left side and she would come back in to recheck it in a few minutes. I had been here before! I have been having issues with elevated blood pressure for about 3 weeks now and have had 2 urine collections to monitor the protein levels. So far the doctors haven’t seemed too worried and kept assuring me that everything is in the borderline normal ranges. Now, mind you, this is my 3rd pregnancy; 2 miscarriages previously.
The doctor came and instructed me to go straight to the triage unit at the women’s hospital. I asked why and she informed me that my protein levels in my urine went from the high 100s to the mid 400s in just 8 days and then added in the blood pressure level of 163 over 84 she believes that I have preeclampsia and I may need to be admitted or placed on bed rest. Oh my goodness gracious!!!!! I was freaking out, I heard about preeclampsia but I wasn’t sure what the meant for my child. I drove myself the three blocks to the women’s hospital and sat in the parking lot to make my phone calls. I called work first then my boyfriend (not the father, very long story) and then my family. After entering triage they took me to a room and started asking me questions and poking me right away. Only 45 minutes later to inform me that I will be admitted and will not be going home anytime soon! I tried to reason with the doctor, “It’s Christmas Eve, can I go home on bed rest and return on Wednesday?” I asked. She said “No, your blood pressure is too high and your protein levels are too high, you are being admitted for observation.”
I was swept away to a Labor and Delivery room and that’s when the fun began (joking, of course). I was catheterized so that they could perform a 24 hour urine collection, put on a clear liquid diet and put on bed rest. I was given a steroid shot to help with the baby’s lungs (just in case he was born prematurely). They hooked me up to SCD Compression Boots because I have Factor Five Leiden Mutation (basically I am susceptible to blood clots) and a fetal monitor to make sure my little man was doing well. I felt like I was a hot mess! How in the world could things turn so quickly! Is my son going to be ok? Am I going to be ok?
The next day, Christmas Day, did NOT go the way I wanted it to go at all! The nurse gave me another steroid shot and then sent in the NICU doctor to speak with me. WHAT!? Why do I need to speak with a NICU doctor!? The gentleman was very nice and soft spoken. He explained to me that my beautiful son is doing very well! Then the words that I will never EVER forget came out of his mouth…”We are going to try our best to get you to 37 weeks BUT at the rate things are going we may have to deliver today or tomorrow.” While tearing up I asked why. The doctor then explained to me that preeclampsia is basically my body saying that it can’t handle the pregnancy anymore. My blood pressure shot up! A nurse came in and tried to calm me down but it was just too high (189/91). I was immediately put on a Magnesium drip to prevent me from having a seizure due to the high blood pressure.
A few hours later I had a group of visitors. The no nonsense nurses would not allow more than 2 people in my room at a time. I was able to open my presents and converse with my family…I was very happy! A nurse came in to check my blood pressure and then decided to kick everyone out into the waiting room. She stated that my blood pressure was 195/95! Following that news, my OB came in to inform me that my protein levels in my urine was over 1000 and that they will induce tomorrow. My boyfriend spent the night with me that night and tried his best to make me feel better. I gave him an “A” for effort. I tried to sleep but that didn’t work so well either, my mind was going a mile a minute…I don’t even have a car seat yet, I am going to miss my baby shower, Do I have enough clothes, wait I don’t own anything preemie!
7 am Wednesday, December 26, 2012. My boyfriend was called into work and my mother was just leaving the house to come to the hospital. I was able to have some time alone to get myself mentally prepared for the day’s events. In retrospect it was very nice to have that alone time. Through out the evening the nurse had been giving me Cervidil to help my cervix soften so I would be ready for induction. And at 9 am I was ready! My mother showed up just in time, the doctor then came in and broke my water and started the Pitocin drip. READY OR NOT!
My boyfriend was able to leave work so he could be there with me and my mother was right by my side the whole time! Around noon I was ready for pain meds…YES please! I was almost 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced, so they started the epidural. I was feeling great and tired so I sent my mom and Steve (my boyfriend) to go get themselves some food. I slept for a little bit, long enough for them to get food and return. I haven’t felt more relaxed this whole pregnancy! Unfortunately, the pain free moment was short lived! The epidural had stopped working (which happens in 20% of cases)…just my luck! I felt everything from that point forward. I had a nurse by my side at all times watching my blood pressure and monitoring my son. Out of nowhere the nurses face turned white, I asked “What’s wrong” and she responded “Oh nothing”. In a blink of an eye the room was filled with about 10 more nurses, checking things and talking quickly. Evidently my little boy’s heart stopped beating for a moment. That’s all it took, I was freaking out! I can’t do this!!!
The doctor came in and told me that I was almost there but I still had a lip of cervix that needed to soften. But my body was telling me otherwise! I was ready and I was ready NOW! She told me that if I was ready I could push through it and deliver now. One contraction, A LOT of supportive words and two pushes later my beautiful son, Jackson Thomas (34w 1d), was born at 3:52 pm, 4 lb 7 oz, 18 in! My boyfriend cut his cord, the doctor placed him on my chest and allowed me to see him for a moment and then they whisked him off to the NICU.
It was hard enough saying goodbye to Jackson right after he was born but the worst was yet to come. I was still having blood pressure issues post delivery so the doctor kept me on the Magnesium drip for the next 2 days. Since I was still on the Magnesium that meant that I was still bed ridden which in turn meant that I could not visit Jackson in the NICU. TALK ABOUT AN EMOTIONAL MESS!!!!! I cried a lot! My boyfriend and family tried to make the best of the situation and took pictures of Jackson and then came to my room to show them to me but honestly it made me feel disconnected and even more upset.
Roughly 55 hours post delivery I finally was wheeled down to the NICU floor to see my son!
As soon as those doors swung open I immediately had a lump in my throat. This is it! Can I handle this? Everything happens for a reason, right? The nurse parked my wheelchair next to the incubator and said to have someone call her when I was ready to go back to my room. I had my mother with me but for some reason a sense of loneliness just hovered over me. Then in the blink of an eye this woman came over and introduced herself as Jackson’s NICU nurse and informed me that the all of the nurses have been very worried about me because they hadn’t seen me yet and then said “How are you, Are you ok?”. WOW! You care!? I replied “Thank you, I am fine. How is he doing? Is he ok?” The nurse told me that Jackson was doing very well for his gestational age and then asked if I would like to hold him. Terrified and excited all at once I said yes. When the woman placed my son in my arms…I fell in love. I was so worried about our connection due to being separated for so long. I was wrong. It felt so perfect!
My birth story is definitely not one I would have imagined that it would have been, but to be honest in retrospect I wouldn’t change any of it! Jackson and I are growing stronger together and look forward to what the future holds!