With Zoey celebrating her one year birthday, I thought it would be fitting to share her birth story. When I was pregnant, I really enjoyed reading other mothers’ birth stories, but I have been hesitant to share mine since it was so unusual. I don’t want anyone (especially new moms) thinking this is what would happen to them. However, I do think it’s valuable to share different birthing situations, so pregnant moms can be as prepared as possible.
The short version: After a routine, easy pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia at 36 weeks and 5 days, which quickly and almost immediately turned into HELLP. I was induced, and delivered our healthy little blondie at 36 weeks and 6 days at 6 pounds and 20 inches. Six days in the hospital later, I was finally released after my blood pressure stabilized but had not yet returned to my normal.
The long version: Zoey’s due date was July 10. The timing was good because Rob and I would both be able to teach summer school, have a few weeks to really prepare, and then Rob would have a week at home with us before heading back to teach for the school year.
We went in for a routine 36 week check up (at 36 weeks and 5 days) on June 17, the day after summer school ended. Up until this check up, my pregnancy had been routine and really easy: Low risk, Zoey growing well, and feeling really good. My biggest problems were swollen ankles after sitting too long and wanting to eat all the
baked goods (which I normally do not like).
My worst day of the pregnancy happened on the last day of summer school and the day before my 36 week check up. I had slept terribly the night before and woke up with seriously swollen feet and a sharp pain on my right side just below my ribs. I attributed it to being 36+ weeks pregnant and went about the teaching day. The pain subsided towards the afternoon and Rob and I managed a 5 mile walk around the neighborhood.
About three hours after the appointment, Rob and I were sitting on the couch wondering what we were going to do for the next 3 weeks while we waited for our little one to arrive. That’s when my doctor called. I was on the phone with my mom when she rang, so I didn’t pick up, but she called back 4 times in a row.
When I finally answered she let me know that my urine showed high protein levels. A sign of preeclampsia. “You need to go to the hospital,” she told me. “You need to be there within the hour.”
“Can we go tomorrow?” I asked her. “The car seat is still in the box.” My sweet doctor tried not to laugh at me and basically told me to get a bag packed asap and get going.
Once I hung up with her, there was a bit of a freak out. A good amount of tears, spinning in circles, packing some random things, and Rob forcing me to eat something before we left. I also let my family know we were on our way to the hospital, but we weren’t quite sure what was happening – whether I would be put on bed rest, or induced, or just checked out in more detail.
Rob and I arrived at the hospital about three hours after the doctor’s phone call. The nurses guided us to the first room on the floor and and told Rob to go get the bags and move the car. By the time he got back, only 15 minutes later, I was in a hospital gown, in bed, hooked up to monitors, catheter in place, blood drawn, and started on a magnesium sulfate drip. These nurses were not messing around!
At this point, Rob and I still weren’t sure what was going on. It took about an hour and a half for the first doctor to come in and talk to us, which we learned later was because she was waiting for the blood draw results. When she arrived, she started talking about inducing and C-sections. She left before we could ask her what was happening.
A few hours later, a second doctor, Dr. Bozeman, came in. Before he could even really get into his exam, I asked him to explain what was happening.
“You don’t know?” he asked us. After seeing our blank, scared faces, he pulled up a chair and explained all about preeclampsia, how my body was going into liver and kidney failure, and how to ensure both my and the baby’s health, I needed to be induced.
The tears automatically started as the doctor continued to explain that they couldn’t induce me until I had been on the magnesium sulfate drip for 12 hours to reduce the chance of a seizure.
Our night nurse, Carol, stayed and explained a bit more to Rob and I about what was going to happen. She had a patient the week before who had the same symptoms and treatment plan as me, so Carol felt very confident in what she was doing. Rob and I attribute all the positives of this experience to her and honestly don’t know what we would have done without her.4