This is my eldest son. His name is Hudson and he is the most beautiful blessing. He has brought us so much joy and blessing since his birth. But his birth nearly killed both of us. This is the story of his birth plus a hefty warning for my pregnant readers out there. This is real. It happened to me, someone who thought that everything would be routine.
I write this story now because I am encroaching upon 33 weeks now with my daughter which always brings back both a wave of memories and thankfulness. So lets begin...
My husband and I had been married for about 2.5 years when we had decided that it was time to start our family. Rather we decided to stop trying to NOT have a baby. Pretty much the next day we were pregnant. This is significant because one of the risk factors is a difficult time getting pregnant. This was not us (and we are blessed by that fact as I know a number of people who do have a hard time). We were so happy and excited to share this news with everyone and I seriously wish I still had the video of my mother-in-law's hilarious reaction to the news. This was the first grand baby for both of our parents. He was special and loved from conception!
Zachary and I were in some very stressful situations. We had a ton of debt from schooling, wedding and moving (we were not the smartest book keepers at the time.) and if you know any Pastors, especially youth pastors, they don't go into it for the money. I worked night and day to keep us afloat and try to pay off things. I took tons of overtime and was exhausted! We still had trouble making ends meet. There was also new situations arising at our places of work that was causing a ton of extra stress such as a refusal for a full day off for Zachary, some particularly unkind people speaking into his life constantly and a small enough youth budget that we ended up contributing a lot. It was a lot to deal with but we were told that we would be getting more support as our family grew so we could afford everything so we decided that it was time. Stress is also a risk factor.
I ate everything I craved at the time which oddly was cheap hamburgers and buffalo wings. But I thought and had heard that when you are pregnant, you can get fat then when you breastfeed, it all comes off. Both of these are complete misconceptions. I worked out lightly until I was about 19 weeks when I had some hip pain and stopped. The weight piled on! Over the course of the entire pregnancy, I gained around 90 lbs. A good portion of this was water from my kidneys shutting down but lots of this was sheer lack of self discipline.
Our baby grew and we did all things you might expect from an excited newly pregnant couple. Appointments, ultrasounds, etc and our baby was really there! It was so very very real. We decided to take a "baby moon" as many couples do before the baby is born in that we took about 3 days off to go on a fun trip to Seattle so that we could spend time together before the baby came. Thats when things started happening that I do kick myself for because as a nurse, I should have seen the warnings.
I started having headaches and swollen feet which I justified because lots of pregnant women have swollen feet. But the biggest warning was in Seattle which I brushed off. I had a severe headache with vision changes. Which for every single nurse out there should have been a massive red flag but I ignored it, took tylenol and went to bed. I was around 27 weeks at the time and in between my monthly appointments. We returned form Seattle and I went back to work without thinking much of it.
On a particularly stressful Friday, I left work for a brief time to go to my appointment but was eager to get back as I had so much to do that day! The hospital was busy and Friday was NST day which put added stress to our already full day. I got the prenatal clinic and a physician friend of mine was working. I hopped up on the table and she took my blood pressure, 150/90. She said lets just sit and cool for a minute. So we sat quietly for a few minutes when she came back and took it again. It went up. Not down. She said you are done work for today and I completely thought she was joking. After all, I had dressing changes, babies with funny blood sugars and so many other people to look after! She sent me to the hospital for growth U/S and labs then home for 2 weeks to see if this would settle. It did not.
Nearing the end of the two weeks, Zachary and I had our maternity photo shoot and I, being the person that I am who has a hard time not working, tried to catch up on housework I missed from the overtime I was picking up. Man our laundry room was a disaster! Even though I was on bedrest, I still tried to work and take sit breaks. Yup, star patient here. I was started on a couple different blood pressure medications to try to control it but they did very little. As you may or may not know, the only "cure" for Pre-Eclampsia is delivery.
One of the biggest scares came after a day of rearranging the laundry room (see? star patient). I was sitting on the couch taking a break and felt the need for a snack. My hubby had gone to the gym and I was home alone. I got up to get a snack and thought my water broke. Fluid began pouring out of me and went I went to check, it was not water but blood. Bright red steady flow filling a pad in about 1/2 hour. In a panic I called my husband so immediately came home and drove me off to the hospital. In a flurry of events at the hospital, they check where the blood was coming from, started several IVs and called for the ambulance to take me to a bigger hospital. It wasn't stopping. My baby was doing ok, heart rate was good but my body was not. The next few hours were a flurry of activity, checking for blood loss, cervical dilation and we tried to stay optimistic through the whole thing but the looks around us were grim. Finally, things started to slow down. While the bleeding never stopped till after delivery, it was slowed to a manageable blood loss. I was transferred to a unit for strict bed rest.
I had a 12.5cm long tear of placenta from uterine wall called a Placental Abruption.
We struggled on the unit with bed rest. On the one hand, it brought Zachary and I so much closer but on the other, the demands from Zachary's work were unforgiving of the situation. Any day, I could lose the rest of the placenta, the baby and bleed out along side of it. I managed to stay a little more stable for another 3 weeks on bed rest. My feet were so swollen that the tops of them sloshed when I walked to the bathroom. My face was so puffy that some days I could barely see through my eyes. I began to have more headaches with vision loss and my blood pressure began to rise with no control from the medication. My body simply could not deal with this pregnancy any longer.
My doctor decided to induce me at 33 weeks as my blood pressure was not being able to be controlled any longer. During the induction and labour of my beautiful sweet child, my husband was still required to take phone calls from the building project that was being worked on which continued to add to our stress in labour. I was on a hefty dose of magnesium sulfate to protect my brain in the event of seizures and they gave me a very short time frame to have this baby before we went to c-section. Blood pressure kept rising. With many prayers answered, Hudson was born October 30 at 9:27pm. 13 minutes to the OR time booked. We made it. So we thought.
After the NICU team (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) had taken Hudson to the unit and we were trying to recover, many of my other organs such as liver and kidneys began shutting down.
Truth be told, I don't remember much of what happened after he was born. I drifted in and out during this scary time. I had transitioned from Pre-E to HELLP Syndrome meaning my red cells began being destroyed, my liver shut down causing an elevation in enzymes and a low platelet count (all bad things). It took about 3 full days for me to be transitioned to a regular post-partum unit and for me to see my son again.
We are both happy and healthy these days. I have a second son that came with his own set of scares but so far, I am perfectly healthy in this pregnancy. We are blessed to be out of those situations. We are so much healthier now that we have ever been both mentally and physically.
Please take from my story the warnings of Pre-E, Abruption and HELLP. Take the road less stressed and love that baby. It took me years to recover from this emotionally and physically. I still have a hard time talking about it at times.
Talk to your doctor if you see these warnings. Don't be a tough person because they can happen upon anyone (although there are risk factors. Love your baby, they are most important thing during this time.