Tag Archives: pre-eclampsia

rough waters ahead

12 Aug

It’s been a little more than a month since I have posted an update. Every time I have thought to write anything, I realize that everything I have to say is just complaints about how hard this pregnancy has been.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I have pre-eclampsia and am just super frustrated with how my Dr.’s are communicating with each other and me.    I have felt certain that no one wants to hear me whine and complain all the time, so I have just not been writing.

This week, though, I was reading a book that my sis-in-law gave me and I came across a passage that really spoke to me and my present situation.  It is from Creating With God by Sarah Jobe.

I know it’s not polite to talk about tomato chunks coming out of my nose or pulling a turd from my behind.  I’ve had to give my good, Southern-woman upbringing five or six valiums just to get the facts down on paper.  But I’ve decided that silence about the suffering of pregnancy just doesn’t help.  I think there is some fear that telling the full truth about pregnancy will be too discouraging to mothers-to-be.  We fear that if we talk about the suffering, no one will ever become a mother again.  But the truth is, no suffering in the world could have kept me from having my babies.  Naming my suffering has helped me learn my own strength.  Naming the suffering of others has helped me see Christ in them.  Telling the truth, even about “indecent” bodily functions, is important, faithful work.

I really love those words and realized that even though the truth about my pregnancy is that it has been really hard, it doesn’t mean I’m not still grateful for the journey.  That is what I have been afraid of, that people will think I’m not grateful.  Because I am.  I really am.

So, here goes.  Some updates since the last time I wrote.

On July 14th, at 29 weeks pregnant, my Dr. decided he wanted to start me on some blood pressure medication due to Gestational Hypertension.  People had been asking me for months why he hadn’t already done this.  I am pretty sure he wanted to wait until I was in my third trimester to start me on anything.  Also, he was unfortunately out of the office quite a bit in the month of June and  I am afraid that my care slipped through the cracks of the other Doctors in his practice.  I will explain some more on that later.  So, he had me start on 100 mg of Labetalol BID.  He told me to continue to take my blood pressure at home 2x/day and that we wanted to try to keep it under 150/100 because when it got higher than that is when I felt truly horrible.  He scheduled me to come see him in 2 weeks and then 2 weeks after that, he scheduled me to come in for weekly ultrasounds until the time that my C-section would take place.  He was still kind of unclear as to when that would be, but it would definitely need to happen by 37 weeks due to my blood pressure situation.

The medication was making no difference whatsoever.  150/100 was a far off dream.  I was more often than not, getting readings much higher than that.  So, I spent the next few weeks feeling really tough.  When my blood pressure was really high, my face would be beat red, my head would pound, and I felt utterly exhausted.  The only time I could get any relief from my headaches was to put an ice pack on my head and sit in complete darkness.  It didn’t take the pain away, but it made it tolerable.  At times, I could hear my pulse pounding in my head and I couldn’t help but be afraid that I was going to have a stroke and our daughter and I would be gravely affected.

My mom was here for a week from July 19-26.  The main reason she came was to attend my baby shower here, which was amazing, and it was so great to have her here for a week to keep my mind occupied.  My shower was such a blessing.  It truly amazes me how many caring people God has blessed me with as friends here in Colorado.  I know I never did anything in my life to be deserving of all the love we have received, but I will gladly accept it all!

On July 28th, I saw the Dr. again.  He took a look at my list of blood pressure readings and gave me a new set of instructions to follow.  He said that if my readings were 160/105 or higher, it was time to treat them with a higher dose of medication.  So, he had me increase to 200 mg BID and after 3-5 days, if it was still higher than 160/105, to double my dose again.  I had an appointment for one last ultrasound at the specialist’s office the next week and he told me to make sure and bring my list of blood pressure readings and get her advice.

Arturo’s parents came for a visit that weekend, and I felt worse than I have felt all pregnancy.  On Sunday during church, I started to get a headache.  I took some Tylenol, which will usually at least take the edge off, and hoped for the best.  While I was cooking lunch,  I told Arturo that after we were done eating, I was going to need to lay down.  I retreated to the darkness of my bedroom and packed my head in ice.  Several hours later, I was still in misery.  I am not used to a headache that won’t go away even after a sleep.  That evening, the pain let up enough that I was able to join everyone to go out for supper, but I was probably silly for pushing myself to do that.

On the 2nd, I took a look at my readings since the increase to 200 mg BID and there was never a reading lower than 150/100 and the higher ones were somewhere around 170/110, so I decided it was time to increase it again per his directions.  So, I started taking 400 mg BID and was just sure that dose had to do the trick!

Later that day I got a horrible headache again.  This one was even worse than the one I had over the weekend.  The pain was pretty similar, but it lasted much longer.  I was seeing double and very dizzy when I would stand up.  It lasted all day and through the night.

A couple of days later is when the real fun began.

We went for our last ultrasound and appointment at the specialist’s office on August 4th.  I was prepared for the crabby ultrasound lady, but luckily, we had someone different who was so wonderful!  She was very friendly and talked to us the whole time.  At 32 weeks, baby girl was weighing 4 lbs 13 oz and in the 73% for growth!  That morning I had read she should be weighing just under 4 lbs, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well she was growing!  She wouldn’t show us her face, but we got a picture of the back of her head, which was very clearly covered in hair.  No surprise there!

The ultrasound tech took my list of blood pressure readings and seemed very concerned.  She asked if she could take it with her and she went to find the Dr.  When they came back in, the Dr. asked me about other symptoms I had been having.  I told her about my headaches, double vision, and dizziness.  Without running any other tests, she said I had severe pre-eclampsia and that her recommendation would be for me to be admitted to the hospital immediately and to have my C-section at 34 weeks.  I was absolutely shocked.  She asked if I had time to stay and be hooked up for a non-stress test and she said they would also like to give me a steroid shot to help baby’s lungs develop.  I of course agreed.

Baby girl looked good on the NST and so the Dr. said she would call my ob and tell him her recommendations.  She said I would need a second shot 24 hours later and that if they admitted me to the hospital I would be able to get it then.  She said either her or my ob would call me later that day and let me know what to do.

I was pretty scared, not for me, but for my daughter.  I want her to have the best possible start in life and while I know that a baby born at 34 weeks will survive just fine, I didn’t want her to have a NICU stay.  I couldn’t believe that this had progressed so fast.  Just a week ago, looking at my blood pressure readings, my Dr. was still calling it Gestational Hypertension and saying I could most likely have her at 37 weeks.

In my final attempt at nesting, Arturo and I went to Target to get the last things on my list for baby.  That might not have been the smartest decision either, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax at the hospital if I had a list of things that hadn’t been bought yet.  Giving up control has been one of the biggest things I have been struggling with over the last few weeks.  I don’t really know how to do that.

On our drive home, my ob called and said, “I hear you are going to be staying with us for a couple of weeks.”  I was devastated.  I had been hoping that he would think the high risk Dr. was jumping the gun and he would let me stay home.  No such luck.  He told me to pack my bags and bring my computer, my nail polish, my books, whatever I needed to keep busy for an extended stay.  He said to be at the hospital by 5:00 and that he would come up and see me that night.

Packing was an overwhelming task.  I didn’t know what to bring for me and for baby.  If she was born at 34 weeks, it was very likely that I would be leaving the hospital before she did, so I maybe didn’t need to pack anything for her.  But, I optimistically packed a few newborn outfits for her anyway.  For myself, my laptop, my Kindle, 3 or 4 books, and my crocheting were at the top of my list.  Beyond that, I had no real clue what I would need so I just threw in a ton of underwear and socks.

My Dr. came in about an hour after I had gotten settled in on the monitors.  They had been checking my blood pressure every 10 minutes, and of course, it was completely normal.  I mean, every reading was under 130 on the top and under 90 on the bottom.  I became hopeful that if it stayed low like that, he may let me go home.  They were going to be doing a 24 hour urine collection to check the protein level in my urine.  He said I would get a second steroid shot the next morning and he was going to start me on Lovenox shots (blood thinner).  They had taken labs shortly after I had gotten there and he said my glucose level was slightly elevated and my liver enzymes as well.  He wanted to have the nurses check my blood sugar a few times to check on that further and the liver enzymes being elevated are another sign of pre-eclampsia.  When I asked him if I would be able to go home after all the testing, he said not to count on it and that a decision to let me go home would not be made until a conversation was had with the high risk ob.  His words were, “Well, letting you go home would only happen after a fight with Dr. Klein, so don’t count on it.  Plan to be here and have a c-section at 34 weeks.” Then, he dropped a bomb on me.  He was going to be out of the office and one of the other Doctors in his practice would be assuming my care for the next week.  I really hated that because whenever he is gone, the other Doctors he works with are less than fabulous.  I tried not to worry about it though because I was sure that he would leave them very clear instructions of the plan.

I didn’t sleep very much that night mostly due to just being extremely uncomfortable and hot.  I had just fallen asleep pretty deeply when my nurse came in to check my vitals.  I spent the night getting my mind prepared for an early baby and surrendered to whatever God’s will was for her life.


Through the night and the next day, my blood pressure readings remained normal.  I received the second steroid shot, a shot of Lovenox, and had my blood sugar checked a few times.  I was hooked up to the monitors for awhile in the morning and baby girl was still doing great.  When the nurse did an assessment of my feet, ankles, and reflexes, she said I had clonus.  I asked what that meant and she just said it was seen in pre-eclampsia.  I sent a quick text to my sis-in-law who is a Dr. and she said that clonus indicates increased risk of seizures and she suspected they were testing to see if I should be on anti-seizure medication.  So, that was concerning.

My sweet husband was off work again that day so he ran some errands for me.  I made arrangements for him to drop our dogs off at some of our friend’s house.  He had to work 12-14 hour shifts for the next 3 days and that is a long day for them in their kennel.  And I talked him into bringing me up a fan so I could hopefully sleep a little better at night.

The nurses were surprised that a Dr. hadn’t come to visit me at all that morning and said maybe someone would be in around lunchtime.

My parents got in the car and began the drive from Minnesota to Colorado.  My dad planned to bring her here and then he was going to fly home and come back closer to when the baby would be born.  There are no more supportive parents in the world than mine are.  I am so blessed to have them in so many ways.

That afternoon, a Dr. from my ob’s office came in.  She started by introducing herself and then asked me, “What is your understanding of why you are here and how long you will be here?”  I was so shocked by her questions.  I told her what I had been told by the high risk Dr. and my ob and she snapped back, “That’s not what he told me.  He said that if your 24 hour urine comes back fine, you can go home.  I’m not even sure why you are here.”  I was super glad that she thought I could go home, but very surprised by her attitude and that she was so willing to go against what the other two Doctors were reccommending.  She didn’t seem concerned by anything else that was going on, the nurse mentioned the clonus and she disregarded it.  She told them to discontinue checking my blood sugar and said that she would be able to let me go home that evening if my urine was ok.  She said there was no reason I would have to have a c-section at 34 weeks.  The nurse said, “Go home on bed rest.”  The Dr. said, “No.  I don’t want her on bed rest.  She needs to be moving around to prevent blood clots.”

I was so utterly confused.  Arturo was mad and said if something happened to me, he would sue her.

I talked to my parents and they convinvced me to call the high risk Dr. office and check in with them.  The high risk Dr. said that if it were up to her, she would not be sending me home, but if this Dr. discharged me to home that she would advise strict bed rest.

Despite all the conflicting information, my blood pressure was still remaining normal and baby girl was still doing awesome for her non-stress tests.  Two things to be grateful for!

I finished my 24 hour urine collection at 5:00 pm and then Arturo and I just sat waiting for the results and the directions from the Dr.  About 7:00, the nurse came in and said that my lab results had come in and my protein level was over 300 and that I did indeed have pre-eclampsia, but the Dr. said I could still go home and was discharging me.  She said that she wanted to see me in the office the next week and I told her I already had a weekly appointment scheduled.  She said if my blood pressure became 140/90 I should sit down and rest for a few hours and then take it again.  If it was still 140/90, then I should call the office.  If I got an extreme headache again, I should come straight back to Labor and Delivery.

So, we went home, more confused than ever.  We loaded up the luggage and fan that I had and stopped and picked up the dogs.  We had prepared for such a long stay and now everything had been changed.  I decided to try and find a happy medium between the different reccommendations.  I didn’t think strict bedrest was needed, but I also didn’t think it made sense to resume all normal activities.  So, I thought I should attempt modified bedrest, which is pretty much what I had been doing up to this point anyway.

Arturo had to work the next day so I was alone most of the day.  I wasn’t certain my digital blood pressure cuff was giving me correct readings because that morning I got a reading of 160/105.  I didn’t think that seemed correct.  I took it a few hours later and it was still 142/99.  I had some friends come out and bring me a manual cuff they said I could borrow.  While here, he took my blood pressure about 5 times and every time he got a reading of about 150/110.  I was so surprised.  But, I decided to just rest and not call the Dr. I didn’t think there was anything she would do anyway.  At 5:00 pm, I got a reading of 125/90 and was satisfied with that.

My parents got here that evening and my mom was planning to be here for the long-haul.

The next few days were pretty calm.  Check my blood pressure in the morning and rest most of the day.  I had a bad headache on Monday night.  I woke up to go to the bathroom (for the 20th time that night) and I was quite dizzy and almost fell down.  Two nights later, Wednesday night, my head started to get pretty bad so I resorted to drinking a cup of coffee.  I have not drank any coffee my whole pregnancy and while I know a cup of coffee is fine and safe, I found it easier to just avoid it altogether. So, after months without coffee, I had one cup and was wide awake, but headache free!

On Tuesday, I had a meltdown of sorts.  My mom and Arturo went grocery shopping and I agreed to stay home and rest.  That was so hard for me.  I love grocery shopping.  I love to be in charge of what goes in the cart and keeping a running total of what we have spent so that when we get to the register I am prepared within a few dollars of what it will cost.  I found myself crying about it and then mad at myself for crying over something so silly.

Yesterday, my mom came with me to see the Dr. My Dr. is still out so we saw the Dr. who had discharged me from the hospital.  I had an ultrasound first and was pleasantly surprised that the ultrasound tech was in a much better mood than the first time I had seen her for a scan at 12 weeks.  She visited with us the whole time and explained what we were looking at.  She showed us when baby girl was taking practice breaths and pointed out how good she was moving, which is what they were monitoring on this ultrasound.  After she had gotten everything she needed, she spent quite a bit of time trying to give us a good 3D image of her face.  We couldn’t get a clear image of her whole face because she refused to move her arms away from them, but we got some really cute shots of her nose and mouth and then another shot or two of the side of her head.  She is so stubborn and right now, I am really happy for that!  She is gonna need that strong will!

The Dr. was even more confusing than before.  She was very nice, so that was great.  But, she seems to be talking out of both sides of her mouth at this point.  She said that she had taken a look at all my labs and that in June when I did my 24 hour urine catch, it came back with a protein of over 300 and that I have had pre-eclampsia since then.

So….WHAT?  My Dr. had written the order for that test and then he was out of the office for 2 weeks.  So, after I had turned it in, I expected someone to call me if it was bad.  No one did and during that next week was when my blood pressure started to get really bad so I was at labor and delivery.  Still, no one said anything about my 24 hour urine and in fact, when I asked about it at the hospital, they said that they didn’t have access to the result.  I had called my Dr. office to see if someone could tell me something about it and was told that my Dr. had to sign off on it before a nurse could give me the results.  I asked if since he was gone one of the other Dr.s could look at it and finally a few days later, someone called me and told me that the Dr. said the result was fine.  So, I never asked about it again and it was never brought up again.

Now, I don’t know if when my Dr. got back he just saw that the other Dr. had signed off on it and didn’t look at it any closer than that or what happened, but this is obviously a concern that no one told me or realized I have had pre-eclampsia since June!

She said with everything combined, she agreed my pre-eclampsia is a severe case and that I should probably still be in the hospital on bedrest with a C-section at 34 weeks, which would be this coming Tuesday.  But, she also said we are in a gray area since my blood pressure is now controlled with the medication and that if I was her patient, she would probably wait until 37 weeks to deliver me and see me 2 times a week for ultrasounds and non-stress tests until then.

I had already been scheduled to see my Dr. this coming Thursday, but she had me put on his schedule for another ultrasound and appointment on Monday so that he can make the final determination as to whether I need to have the C-section on Tuesday or can wait a few more weeks.

So, we shall see what Monday brings, but Arturo and I have pretty much decided that we are not going to let him deliver her at 34 weeks unless my situation with the pre-eclampsia becomes life-threatening.  I will do whatever it takes to keep this girl in, even if that means not going to the grocery store again for several months.

I will leave you with another passage from the book Creating with God by Sarah Jobe.  I am working on accepting this and believing it to be true!

Pregnant women learn throughout pregnancy to trust others for their basic needs.  They learn their own limits.  They learn to ask for and receive help.  They learn to surround themselves with communities of support, knowing that when they most need to, they might not be able to lift their own legs.  They learn to trust that God will meet their needs through the people around them.  In short, pregnant women learn to live by faith.

Living by faith isn’t easy.  Most of us don’t want to ask for help.  We don’t want to be dependent.  It feels very vulnerable to let others (even our partners!) see our weakness.  We don’t know if they’ll honor that weakness or exploit it-if they’ll help us in our need or dismiss us as high-maintenance nuisances.  It is risky business to believe that God’s grace is sufficient to meet our needs, that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

We like to think that being Christian is about helping other people.  It feels good to meet the needs of others.  But being a Christian is equally about learning to let others help us.  Jesus asks his disciples to leave their jobs and families to follow him, not knowing where their next meal will come from.  God asks Abraham to leave family and homeland on the absurd promise that in his old age he will have a child who will become a great nation.  The Israelites leave slavery in Egypt only to wander around in a desert, depending on God to provide every single meal.  The Bible is full of stories of God asking folks to leave their self-built support systems to live lives of dependence in which God meets their basic daily needs. This sort of seemingly foolish, extremely uncomfortable willingness to lean upon God is at the heart of Christian faith.  Our willingness to be weak, vulnerable, and dependent is truly the space in which God’s power is seen.

 

 

 

 

 

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