Life as we knew it on April 3, 2004 would forever change our lives. Dan and I were married after seven years of dating (talk about cold feet!) and two short weeks after coming home from our honeymoon, we were told we were going to have a baby...a wedding night baby. I had an ovarian cyst burst and two more that could potentially burst, so I was being closely monitored from the get-go. The first five months were not horrible, but it wasn't the exciting, pretty and fun pregnancy I imagined. Into my 6th month everything seemed to be going ok; until I started gaining weight, swelling in my face, hands, arms legs, everywhere, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, had a couple of high blood pressure checks and my baby was not moving as he/she (our baby was a surprise) should have been. My doctor said my weight gain was due to eating too much, and even shocked my husband when he told me to stop eating so much food or I would gain 70 lbs. before the end of my pregnancy. I was told the swelling was normal, although my face was as round as a basketball and my body looked as if I was pumped full of air, with my belly almost disappearing. I was told the gestational diabetes was going to be controlled by diet, although I never got a chance to visit the nutritionist, and the continuous stress tests said the baby was fine. So I was told to stop worrying and enjoy being pregnant...oh sure, easy for the doctor and nurse to say, they were not the miserable one!
After four weeks of being monitored by my 'bonehead' doctor, going to the hospital for numerous hours of stress tests, calling the doctors office and being told I have nothing to worry about and my concerns were just 'first time mom worries'; my baby was not moving like he/she normally did and I developed a horrendous headache that could not be controlled on 10/29/04. I did not go to work on this day and laid on ice packs until I saw my 'new' doctor for the first time at 1 pm on 10/29/04 (I switched doctors, although in the same office as Mr. Bonehead, because I didn't think I was being cared for properly). I was told to continue taking Tylenol for my headache and was sent home. That was it, this time strangely enough, I was not sent to the hospital, there was no concern for me or the baby and I was fine as far as they were concerned.
At midnight I called the hospital, because the headache was so painful and was told that I had to go to labor and delivery to be assessed. I drove myself to the hospital, because my husband was out with friends 'destressing' after our continuous visits to the hospital and I didn't want to wake anyone at that time of the night to take me to the hospital. My stubborness paid off and luckily I somehow made it to the hospital, having enough sense to drive through the city, even though I was seeing stars.
Once I arrived at labor & delivery I was immediately escorted by two nurses and put into a room. Only eleven short minutes after arriving at the hospital, my left leg started shaking uncontrollably, my body went numb, I freaked out and tried get off the exam table. I remember two men slamming me back onto the table before blacking out. I had gone into code blue eclamptic seizures.
In the meantime, my husband came home to find a note from me that I went to the hospital. He called my cell phone and was told by the doctor to have someone drive him to the hospital. He arrived at the hospital with his mother, was told that the outlook for his wife and baby were bleak, but they were doing everything they could to save us, and was assigned a social worker. Three hours later, the doctors stablized me with enough magnesium to control the seizures to perform an emergency c-section.
My first image after blacking out was seeing my husband in a blue surgical cap and he told me we were having a baby boy. I replied, "I am pregnant?". He then realized that I was not aware of the last 30 minutes and I had no clue about all the 'wonderful' things we had been talking about and what I had been saying. The nurse told him I was drugged up and most likely wouldn't remember much. Unfortuantely, I remember very little about the delivery and we don't have those 'first' moments captured on film.
It took me two days to recover in order to fully understand that we had our baby and that we both were very sick. I remember seeing him for the first time and thinking, 'this is my baby', but wait...he shouldn't be here yet. The fact that I had him so early really overwhelmed me and I was so scared and wondered what would happen now. I had a billion thoughts running through my mind; Would he survive, was he ok, was there anything wrong with him, would he grow up to be normal, why did this happen to me, why did my doctor almost let us die, whose fault is this, why couldn't I have a happy pregnancy and normal delivery, why, why, why!? So many questions and unfortunately I didn't receive any psychological support for what had just happened to me, my baby, husband and family, or what we were to face in the coming months.
I had a five day stay in the hospital, which made my c-section recovery a breeze (one positive) and our son stayed in the NICU for 30 days, coming home just two days after Thanksgiving. Our families were unable to meet our son until he came home, because it was flu season and only parents were allowed in the NICU. This was just one of frustrations I had, since my parents live 500 miles north of San Diego and I wanted to introduce their grandson to them at the moment he was born, not days or months later (it had been 16 years since my parents had a grandchild born into the family). Another positive, my parents were actually visiting when our son came home, so we were very grateful for the angel that sent us this blessing.
Thankfully, we had a wonderful emergency doctor that took care of us and an angel or two watching from above, because our baby and myself survived the emergency c-section without any long-term effects. Our surprise was a baby boy who was suppose to be a Christmas baby, but became a Halloween baby on October 30th, eight weeks and one day before his due date. Thanks to a higher power we both did not have any complications at delivery and to this day we have never experienced any major health issues, other than a double hernia surgery for our son at two months old.
I owe tremendous appreciation and gratitude to my doctor, who saved our lives, to our son who had the sense to show me signs that something was wrong inside the womb and to myself for having the sense to go to the hospital that fateful night. If I had not listened to my gut, which by the way was the 'nickname' for our baby, neither one of us may not be here today to share this happy ending to our story.
I must say that since this was my first pregnancy I didn't want to be a bothersome person and press my doctor when I was feeling horrible, because after all he was the 'expert'!! It is important for women to know they need to listen to their bodies and be their own advocates if they feel they need more medical attention. I obviously felt that I did not have control in this situation, but know the next time I will not be so quiet!
I also must say that women need to talk about their feelings when anything so tragic happens to them. I didn't find the Preeclampsia Foundation until my son was a year old and couldn't speak about what happened to me for a long time. I was so bitter, sad, frustrated, unhappy and so mad, but I never told a soul, not even my husband. It took me over a year to come to terms with myself that this was not my fault and that I did everything right, except to continue to seek help when I knew things were not right. I highly recommend that all women who experience unpleasant to horrific pregnancies speak to someone, anyone to get your feelings out. I always try to act like everything is ok, even when it isn't, and this was not the situation to act as if nothing had happened or was wrong. It put a strain on me, my husband, our new marriage and I was not the happy new mom I always imagined I would be. I was very unhappy and didn't want anyone to know just how miserable I was, I thought this was not the honorable, new mommy thing to do. I learned so many valuable lessons from this experience and while my situation turned out with a happy ending, I know that many mothers, fathers and families do not get the chance to eventually find joy within from having a child. Preeclampsia is a devasting disease and I know that I survived for a reason and will be a voice for all of those who were not so lucky.
Our son, Jacob Wiilliam, has continued to be healthy and is now a happy 2 1/2 year old who enjoys going to preschool, laughing, music, dancing and tumbling.
Thank you for reading our story. Becky, Dan & Jacob Sloan
Copyright 2007, reproduced with permission
Becky is my sister-in-law. Jacob is now another year older and doing fantastically, and Dan and Becky are expecting another child -- a daughter this time, due August 24th.
This upcoming Saturday is the 2nd annual Preeclampsia Foundation walk-a-thon -- Becky was involved in planning both last year's and this. Thanks to scheduling working out this year (and assuming I can shake whatever illness has been hitting me for the past week, and probably even if I can't), Mooselet and I will be participating. If anyone is interested in supporting us in the walk or the Foundation directly, please contact me off-board. I talked the moderator into letting me post this, but he said it could only be up for a week.
[Edit -- see new posts for information on the 2014 Promise Walk, or go to www.promisewalk.org.]
[ April 14, 2014, 11:26 PM: Message edited by: Papa Moose ]
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I didn't even know there was a Preeclampsia Foundation! Cool!! I hope you and Mooselet will be able to participate!!
I'm so glad Becky and Jacob were ok and I'm shocked that it took so long for Becky to be diagnosed. I remember being told multiple times during my recent pregnancy about the signs of preeclampsia. It is a really scary thing. One of my mother's best friends had problems with it, and even though her doctor was prepared, she had a stroke during the birth of one of her sons.
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As someone who's wife had preeclampsia with our first reading this story brought me to tears. My wife is due with our second in a few weeks so I'm sure it's going to be giving me nightmares as well...
Fortunately for us the doctor did take care of her and so did her body - her water broke just a couple hours before the doctor told the clinic to track her down and get her to come in ASAP. Despite being 4 weeks early and some minor jaundice issues everything worked out fine.
We've moved since then and our Dr this time around was not very good in our opinion, so we actually switched doctors at 35 weeks - not the best time but better than sticking with inferior care.
So thank you for sharing this Papa Moose - and please thank Becky too.
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I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia with both of my pregnancies and told that I can probably expect it with any future pregnancies. With my first, I was monitored for a week before I was induced. With my second it was diagnosed and I was sent to the hospital to deliver on the same day. Luckily both babies came after 36 weeks and they experienced no complications.
When I try to express my fear of being pregnant again, people don't understand what I'm afraid of. I didn't even really understand how dangerous the disease can be until I talked about it with a doctor friend. The scary thing is that if you have it, the ONLY way to cure it is to deliver the baby because it is caused by the placenta. It doesn't matter how far along you are, you MUST deliver the baby. I think when I was going through it my own doctors didn't want to discuss the severity of it as to not scare me too much.
I am grateful to have read this story and to learn about this foundation. Thanks Papa Moose.
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And due to a recent scare with us (which turned out to not be pre-eclampsia), we've found out that you can get pre-eclampsia even for a few weeks AFTER you give birth. Don't think the headaches and weird heart flutters and the like are just fatigue or new parent stress. Get checked out!
my sister had pre-eclampsia with her first mini. She was induced 4 weeks before she was due. She spent the whole week before that in the hospital. I certainly know the signs to look for. It all started with the cankles...poke the skin on her leg and the mark stayed. Right before the baby was born, my sister could hardly see thru the slits she had as eyes and her mouth was so swollen she could hardly talk. Never once was her doctor worried about the baby but he took very good care of my sister.
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That's good to know, Bok. After I had my second, the night I returned home from the hospital I started feeling very strange and my legs would shake when I stood up. I broke into hives and felt sick to my stomach. The strangest part was my mental state. I felt confused and had a weird fearful feeling that I couldn't relate to anything. We ended up calling 911 becuase I was afraid it could be connected to the Pre-eclampsia. The EMTs assured me that since the baby was delivered the Pre-eclampsia could no longer be a concern. The took my vitals and I was okay, but it was scary. Now I know to not let my guard down in the future.
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Here's another pre-eclampsia PSA: You don't always feel bad. I felt great throughout my pregnancy, and while I had some swelling, it wasn't especially noticeable until after I delivered and it went down (I lost 30 lbs in the first 2 weeks after delivery.) In fact, one of the things they tell you to look for is sudden weight gain, and I actually lost 4 lbs. the week I developed pre-eclampsia. I was being monitored closely, though, by my OBGYN, a maternal-fetal specialist, and at home--I took my BP 2x/ day throughout my pregnancy. So I was actually the one who caught the spike in BP. At that point I just had gestational hypertension, but my doctor went ahead and gave me steroid shots to develop the baby's lungs just in case I went on to develop p-e.
Anyway, the point is, if you're pregnant go to all of your prenatal appointments, and don't get annoyed if your doctor treats rising blood pressure seriously. I was very fortunate because I was diagnosed almost immediately--I had a trace protein urine sample on a Friday (e.g. no pre-e), then started spilling protein on Sunday, was diagnosed Tuesday, and delivered the following Friday at 33 weeks 4 days.
And like DaisyMae, I'm afraid of becoming pregnant again--not particularly afraid for myself, because I know the signs, monitor my own bp, and have a doctor who doesn't fool around when it comes to p-e--but afraid because I might develop it earlier in my pregnancy.
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To those who helped support us, thank you, from me, Mooselet, and Becky. When there's a total raised for the -thon, I'll let you know what it is -- but we do know it exceeded last year, both in participants and in dollars.
Thanks also to those who shared their stories here. I continue to learn more about this, and am astonished at some of the stories, and the examples of misdiagnosis. There were other women at the walk who lost their children because of this condition, including a couple who flew down from Washington state to participate in the walk and who lost a child in February.
My brother was in charge of placing the "turn around here" sign at the halfway point, so the round trip would be 2.4 miles. This brother, the math teacher, placed the sign 1.5 miles from the start. He will not live this down for a while in my book. *smile*
Dropped the ball. Sorry. The walk-a-thon ended up raising about $8,500, versus last year's approx. $5,000. For those who did contribute through me, there was a mix-up, and all the tax receipts were given in my name instead of yours. Becky has told me she'll get that fixed. And currently she plans to head up the 2009 walk-a-thon, too, so you'll probably hear from me again next year.
Becky [edit -- my sister-in-law] had the baby a few weeks ago (and several weeks early, but technically full term). Knowledge is a good thing, because preeclampsia had most assuredly returned. At a regular check-up on Monday July 28th, she turned out to have high blood pressure and some facial swelling. Went to the hospital for some tests, and was told to come back the next morning.
Tuesday morning, they find out from the doctor that her kidneys were not functioning properly, and some protein was out of whack and platelet count was low and falling. So, under much more controlled circumstances this time, she went in that afternoon for a C-section and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, 6 pounds 5 ounces and 19 inches long (and this was almost 4 weeks early!). Baby Brynn was delivered with no distress, but mom was put on magnesium, which she says was horrendously unpleasant when she was conscious.
Despite all this, despite the sudden appearance of the preeclampsia, they were kept out of danger and felt safe throughout the pregnancy.
Thanks yet again, folks.
--Pop (/Uncle again)
[Edited for clarification]
[ August 22, 2008, 11:06 PM: Message edited by: Papa Moose ]
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Walk-a-thon is rearing its lovely head again, this time in its 2009 version. I bump the thread in part because the issue is important, but part because Mooselet and I are walking in the -thon again. I included above a brief recap of my brother's and sister-in-law's second child's birth, but here it is in Becky's words (August 6, 2008):
quote:I didn't escape....preeclampsia reared it's ugly head on Monday, July 28th. Until this point, I was pre-e free and feeling great. I went in for a routine check-up on Monday the 28th and had high blood pressure (1st time all pregnancy) and a swollen face. I went to the hospital for testing and was told to come back at 8:30 am on Tuesday. I never left the hospital Tuesday. Our doctor came in at 11 am and said 'we are having a baby today!'. My kidneys were not functioning properly and my blood platelet count was low and falling by the moment. So at 4:30 pm I was wheeled into the operating room.
Brynn Holland Sloan was born Tuesday, July 29th via c-section at 5:08 pm. She weighed 6lbs. 5 ozs. and was 19 inches long. Brynn was great and had zero distress and came through the delivery with flying colors. I was put on magnesium for 24 hours (pure hell while conscious) and we were in the hospital for five days, only coming home late Saturday night. We are adjusting well and my son, Jacob (3 1/2), is doing really well with her and is already very helpful.
So while I thought I had escaped the dreaded pre-e and would have an amazing full-term pregnancy, pre-e was an sudden onset this time and I was in immediate danger. I made it 4 weeks and 3 days further than with my son, which is a blessing, along with a very healthy baby! No more babies for us, we are finished!
This year's walk-a-thon is on May 9th (traditionally Mother's Day weekend for some reason...). Last time I just asked folks to contact me off-line, but since there's an actual website through which people can sponsor me, I'm including it this time. I'll smooth things over with the moderator.
The website is here. If you put "Moose clan" in the "In Honor Of" box, Mooselet and I get the credit for the pledge (though getting the credit really isn't the important part... for him). This should prevent some of the receipt confusion from last year, too (those few of you who may remember). If you prefer check rather than Visa/MC (Paypal didn't work too well last year, either), then you can contact me through e-mail, or follow the mailing instructions at the website.
Again, my thanks to those who contributed last year, and thanks in advance to any/all who contribute this year as well.
For some reason I cannot modify the original post without deleting it all, so I didn't update the title. Anyway, I wanted to share good news.
My sister-in-law Becky, of the above story, who got us involved with the Preeclampsia Foundation in the first place, has just received the Hope Award for Volunteer of the Year from the Preeclampsia Foundation.
Mooselet and I are taking part in the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia in San Diego next month. My sister-in-law is both the local and national walk coordinator, so I've been going down for the last... uh... well I guess 7 years to help out however I can. She nearly lost her life (and that of her unborn son, story in earlier posts) due to this condition going undiagnosed.
Here is our team page. If you'd like to contribute, or if you're in the area and want to take part, every little bit helps.
(Janitorblade, if you have to take this down, I understand. I don't work here any more, so let me know if I'm overstepping.)
[ETA: #1. I was going to update the thread title and first post, but it won't let me for some reason. #2. Ok, now I did.]
[ April 14, 2014, 11:27 PM: Message edited by: Papa Moose ]
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