Everyone says that it takes a while to get pregnant. Wrong. It doesn’t. The first time you have unprotected sex, you had better be ready for the crazy train that is pregnancy if you’re a woman. Not only was it possible, but apparently I am a “fertile myrtle” as my mom says. We got pregnant on the first swing at bat. My pregnancy was awful. I was nauseous the entire pregnancy. I actually lost weight by the end of my first trimester. All the statements that assured me it got better once the second trimester rolled around proved to be completely false for me. I never made it to the third trimester.
The last two weeks of my pregnancy are a scary, traumatic story:
I was sitting at my desk watching a show on Netflix a Wednesday (Deep Space Nine for my fellow Trek nerds). Even though I was in a completely relaxed state, I began to feel a sensation of severe heartburn. I thought it was odd, as I hadn’t eaten anything recently. The idea to check my blood pressure popped into my head. I took the blood pressure cuff we had at our house and checked my pressure. My normal pressure ran in the low range due to my athleticism (106/60). When I took it at my desk it was 136/86. That is pretty high for me. I decided that it seemed like it could have been a fluke, and I decided to take it again after 4 hours. It came back elevated again in the same high 130/ high 80s range. I called my OB’s office. They told me to come in that afternoon to get checked out. Prior to this, my pregnancy had been considered completely normal. None of the urine or blood tests at the OB office had ever shown any sign of problems. I arrived and had my blood pressure taken. It was still elevated, but it was within “norms” for all human beings. The nurse did not seem very concerned about my complaints of swelling or elevated blood pressure. She seemed inclined to blame it on my status of being pregnant in the peak of summer and suspected that I did not drink enough water. The mid-wife at the OB office ordered blood work and a 24 hour urine collection. I had to pee in a plastic hat for 24 hours and pour it into a bright orange jug. Even though I drank around 84-92 ounces of water a day (thank you plastic water bottles with ounce labels), I didn’t fill up even half of the jug with urine. It had a strong smell to it, and it seemed a lot darker than it used to. On Friday, my blood work returned again within “norms” for all human beings. It took a little longer for the results of my urine collection analysis to come back. On Monday, the nurse that had seemed slightly dismissive called me back with news that protein had come back in my urine. This is called “Protein Uria,” and it meant that my kidneys were not doing so hot. Monday night, I could not sleep. I felt poorly in general and uncomfortable. I had discomfort on the right side of my body, and I felt worried that I might be losing the baby. I finally gave up on sleep at 4:45 AM and went downstairs for a glass of water. While I was downstairs, I decided to check my blood pressure again. It came back at 161/112. After calling my sister sobbing on the phone and having her tell me I needed to go to the Emergency Room, I went up the stairs to wake up my poor husband. I told him that there was something wrong with me and we needed to go to the hospital. I am such a planner that I began to stress about how I was going to probably be put on bed rest. We arrived at the hospital, and my blood pressure had remained high enough for me to be admitted and watched. My OB ordered blood work, urine tests, and an ultrasound for the baby that was originally supposed to happen that afternoon. My husband went to get us smoothies because we believed that we were going to be there for a while. Meanwhile, my blood work came back that led my OB to bump up my ultrasound. My sister and I were whisked across the hospital to a dark ultrasound room where the doctor confirmed that I had pre-eclampsia, and that I had likely had it for a while. He told me that he would keep me on full bed rest at the hospital to keep me pregnant for as long as possible. This turned out to be about 3 hours. By the time I came back from the ultrasound, I had been labeled NPO. My bloodwork round 2 had come back and showed that I not only had pre-eclampsia, but that it had developed into HELLP. If you are unfamiliar with this syndrome, check out the Pre-Eclampsia foundation’s page on it HERE. My OB came into my room to tell me that my life was in danger and that my condition was deteriorating quickly. My platelets (the things that form clots/scabs when you get a cut or scrape) were disappearing, and my liver was showing signs of failing. At this point, my liver and kidneys had decided that pregnancy was not for them and were punching their time cards. She told me that we did not really have time to induce me. I was only 27 weeks pregnant. I had to have an emergency c-section. Because the anesthesiologist did not feel comfortable giving me an epidural because my of my careening downward platelet count, my husband could not join me in the OR. I had to be put under general anesthesia. Before taking me to the back, I had a brief moment to say goodbye to my family, discuss our baby’s name with my husband (even though we hadn’t really finalized her middle name quite yet), and take a final, emotional picture together before being whisked behind the double doors of the OR. At no-point had I ever wanted a C-Section, but this was the beginning of a trip down the rabbit hole of trusting modern medicine to save not only my life but also the life of my unborn baby girl who was depending on my dying body to support her. My little girl entered this world incredibly early, fighting to survive at 1 pound 15 ounces. She got whisked up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU for short), where she had to stay until she was developed enough to be discharged closer to her original due date.