Once the Doctors confirmed what I already knew, I had severe pre-eclampsia, it was time to figure out what that meant for me and my baby girl. My first instinct was to go google. Thank goodness my fiancee talked me out of that. Instead I waited for the actual professionals to explain.
I was told there are multiple stages of pre-eclampsia. Mild-moderate stage Pre-E can be managed, that was not what I had. Mine was severe. It seemed like a harsh word. It was. I was told I would not leave the hospital without having my baby. Being not even 24 weeks I said "So I have to say in the hospital for four months?". "if you are really lucky" said the doctor. They explained to me that both my life and the baby's were in danger. They were going to do everything they could to keep her in there as long as possible, but if mom or baby were in jeopardy, it was going to be time to deliver. I was told the NICU doctors would be coming up to discuss with me what delivering a baby at 24 weeks would look like. "But I thought you just told me I could try to keep her in" I said to the Doctor. "Yes but just in case, hear them out" he said.
The next step for me was a magnesium bolus to manage my blood pressure. Have you ever had a really bad fever that made you not be able to control your own body temperature, been so nauseous you had to throw up and not been able to control the urge to pee all at the same time? No? That is what being on magnesium feels like.
For baby girl the next step was an ultra sound to see how big she was measuring and a fetal monitor to keep a close eye on her heart rate. I was told too many drastic changes in her heart rate meant she was in distress and its time to go. Chris and I did nothing but watch those numbers that whole night.
The next morning was Christmas eve. We made it through the night without having to deliver her! There was that glimmer of hope I was looking for. Shortly after breakfast They came to take me to my ultrasound. An extremely nice Maternal Fetal medicine Doctor did my Ultrasound and said she was measuring at 380 grams. I thought that was great! I was wrong. That was only 13 oz. She had not gained any weight at all since my 20 week anatomy scan. Not a good sign.
When I came back from the ultra sound it wasn't long before the doctors started pouring into my room to give to me straight. They told me that at 380g there was a less than 20% chance they would be able to intubate my baby. No breathing tube meant no breathing. No breathing meant no baby. I absolutely lost it and for the third time in almost 4 years I saw my fiancee cry.
With all the talk about the baby I barely thought about myself and my health. My blood pressure was still very high and not going down. After reviewing the baby's heart rate trends and my labs another doctor came in to tell us it was best for me to get shots to help kickstart the baby's lung growth just in case. We asked some optimistic questions like, "what if everything goes well and I can keep her in a few more weeks?". She replied " If you and your baby both leave this hospital healthy, it would be a miracle and I will never forget your names."
I burst into tears again. The doctor started to walk out of the room, but before she did she turned around to say "But it's Christmas, Try to do something fun, Ok?"
March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies. We're advocating for policies to protect them. We're working to radically improve the health care they receive. We're pioneering research to find solutions. We're empowering families with the knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities, we're building a brighter future for us all.
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