What me? Preeclampsia? Micropreemie?

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I mean it when I say, "When I decided to get pregnant, I did everything by the book." My husband and I had decided early on in our relationship that we were dog people and certainly not baby people. Then, it happened. It seemed like everyone in his work place was having a baby. Now, he wanted to have one too.

I could no longer think of a good reason as to why we shouldn't have a baby and agreed to embark on the adventure. Up to this point, I did not pay attention to baby stuff. I changed the channel when birth and pregnancy shows were on, tuned out when pregnancy or baby talk occurred, and none of my friends had babies. The only thing I knew was how not to have one. I needed to get educated on the baby thing. I bought a book published by The Mayo Clinic.

I followed the book's suggestions as if it were an instruction manual. I went to the doctor for a check up, started taking prenatal vitamins (with folic acid), visited the dentist, and cut out everything from alcohol to caffeine. Four months passed and I had four negative pregnancy tests. During month five of trying to conceive, I herniated a disk in my back. I was preparing to have it treated when I thought "Maybe I should make sure I'm not pregnant before I go through all this."

I unwrapped yet another pregnancy test. This time I did not receive the "not pregnant" results that I had become accustomed to seeing. I was confused.I called for my husband to come and clarify things. He answered with a smile, "You are very pregnant!"

We followed each week of my pregnancy in the chapters of the book. My pregnancy was more difficult than I thought it was going to be but in no way unusual. At one point, my husband read in the book that our baby was the size of a grape. He put on music and exclaimed "Grape dance!" as he danced.

I read in the book about complications. However, I distinctly remember reading the line "Preeclampsia occurs in about 6-8% of pregnancies." I stopped reading that section and skipped it. 6-8%? There was no way it could happen to me!

At twenty weeks, I started seeing spots at times. I told my doctor. He did not seem concerned as there are often vision changes with pregnancy. My blood pressure slowly started to climb. That too was not alarming because I naturally had low blood pressure. Even though it was climbing, it was still in the high normal range. I did not think much about those things. We were about to find out the sex at a scheduled sonogram!

My baby was breech. When I went for my sonogram, her spine was out of view due to her position. We found out that we were having a girl. She was stubborn and would not turn. We had to come back for another sonogram. She refused to budge for a second sonogram. A third had to be scheduled.

I was twenty four weeks into my pregnancy when the third sonogram was scheduled. My husband and I were pretty confident about things by this point. Maybe even a bit cocky. My blood pressure had reached a point where my OB/GYN was concerned and gently tried talking to us about preeclampsia. He explained the 24 hour urine collection. My husband and I were happy to do the test. We thought it was to put our minds at ease. There was no way preeclampsia could happen to us. We did everything by the book!

We followed that appointment with the third sonogram. We were joking and laughing about our stubborn baby in the waiting room. We were cutting up during the sonogram. We asked, "Is she showing her spine?" The baby had changed positions. Midway into the sonogram, the tech asked, "Have you been leaking water?" I knew from the look on her face that something was not right. Her demeanor was stern and serious. The tech took some measurements and told me that I needed to wait for the perinatalogist.

The perinatalogist had called my OB/GYN while we were waiting. The perinatalogist was ready to see us. She explained that my baby had lost weight and was skinny. She said that I had low fluid. The good news is that the baby was viable. She asked about feeling indigestion. I told her that this week I started experiencing indigestion that I could not relieve but I thought it was part of being pregnant. We were to wait and see the results of the urine screen. I went home that night and began the 24 hour urine collection.

Over night, I started to get a head ache. I thought it was due to stress. The next morning, I called the lab to make an appointment for the next day (it was a Saturday). The lab said that they were booked but they would squeeze me in. Saturday arrived. My husband and I got up early to go to the lab.

Despite getting there the moment the lab opened, it was over flowing with people. My head was pounding. We sat with my urine jug in the waiting room for two hours before we were notified that we could not be worked into the schedule. My head was going to explode. I was snippy with the lab woman. I told my husband to take me to the emergency room.

The OB/GYN on call examined me and talked to the perinatalogist. He explained that I had preeclampsia. He said that if my blood work was bad then I would have to deliver immediately. I cried. It was the only thing I knew to do.

Fortunately, my blood work returned and it was determined safe for me to continue my pregnancy in the hospital's High Risk Perinatal Unit. I was not sure that it was happening. I was scared.

At first, there was no protein in my urine. The perinatalogist was certain that I had preeclampsia. My OB/GYN was not so sure. Both doctors decided on and agreed that my goal was to carry to 32 weeks. I did what I could for my baby. I ate the healthiest and most food the hospital made available. I played every favorite piece of music I could think of for her. I talked to her and I hoped.

At twenty five weeks, my placenta looked significantly worse and the protein in my urine had made its appearance. Exactly at twenty six weeks, she had reversed end diastolic flow (more was coming out of her than going in) and I had developed HELLP. It was time. I was wheeled down stairs to L&D not knowing what to expect.

Charlie was delivered under general anesthesia. I woke up confused and felt as if my baby was cut out of me. I did not get to see her. The magnesium sulfate was not my friend. My husband showed me a picture of my baby and told me that she cried all the way to the NICU. I laid there motionless and staring.

My baby girl Charlie entered this world weighing 790 grams. It was two days before I was well enough to see my baby. It was ten days before I got to hold her (it was only for a few minutes). She was in the NICU for 89 days. During which, I went through a metamorphoses of sorts. The first week I sobbed inconsolably in front of her isolette. I was afraid to leave her because I did not want her to die alone. A very kind nurse explained things over and over again to me for my mind was frozen with shock, sadness, and mourning.

I started talking to nurses, other mothers, social workers, reading, and learning about preemies. The March of Dimes NICU Family Support was a huge help. I read the books offered, talked to the staff, attended the classes and filled in the NICU baby book. I started to work through the emotion and learned to care for my baby. By the end of her NICU stay, I felt as if things could be all right again. That was four years ago. We still have to face many challenges and obstacles. Despite that, I know that fortune has smiled upon us.

This picture is how I saw Charlie for the first time. 


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  • your baby is beautiful.  so happy to read that things worked out for you.  I realize now it truly its a miracle every time a woman gets pregnant and gives birth.  You just never know how it's going to turn out.

  • Welcome to Share.  Congratulations on your baby girl!  She's just so cute there in her car seat having fun with her fingers.  To look back at those early NICU pics and see how much she has grown.  Amazing!

    Thank you for sharing your story and pictures with us.  It will give hope to many families.

    Lindsay

  • Hi and welcome to Share!  Charlie is beautiful!  My son was also a 26 weeker (to the exact day too).  

    Pregnancy complications can be so unexpected.  I never expected that I would go into labor at 26 weeks, and even when knew I was in labor, I was sure the doctors would be able to stop it.  

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Marissa

  • Welcome to Share. Your little girl is absolutely beautiful. I am so sorry for your terrifying birth experience. I know how scary it can be when your expecting a perfect pregnancy because you do everything by the book and then things take a turn for the worse. I am so thankful you shared your story with everyone. It really helps for other families in similar situations to hear that they are not alone. Thank you.

    Jami

  • I saw where you posted at the top, figuring out as you go. I have say to after being a preemie myself and having complications from birth that's one of the best pieces of advice anyone's ever given me. Take it one step at time. One day at a time. One milestone at a time. Not all premature babies have the complications I did. In fact, I do have Cerebral Palsy, but I almost 38 now. I have lived a normal thriving life. Sure I have bad days but life was not made to be perfect, and I try not to focus on what I can't do due to the disability and I try to remember that there are many many things that I can do, I just to have to adapt and do things differently

  • So happy for you and your little one. Much love

  • Your story is very similar to mine. I know that you already commented on it, but I wanted to tell you that your emotions were so familiar. I was just in total shock when my son came early at 25 weeks. We were a by the book couple with everything too. We still don't know why he came so early, but the pain and confusion were just so hard to accept. I am so glad to hear that Charlie is doing well. We are getting ready for preschool in the fall this year and my worries are his eating and we are still working on potty training. It is so hard to tell with any "issues" if it is a preemie thing or just a toddler thing.

  • Thank you so much for your beautiful comments on my sunshine photos. You truly put a smile on my face. Reading  your story has truly brought happy tears to my eyes. God is truly awesome. Once again Thank you so much...

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!

  • Thanks Rebecca for your comment and prayers for my baby. Have you documented your NICU experience of 89 days somewhere? I want to be aware of what I need to look out for, so I can aid the doctors and nurses in the progress of my baby. Thanks again!