At 32 weeks pregnant I bragged to a friend that I had a perfect blood pressure with no preeclampsia symptoms and hadn’t had any pregnancy woes besides Hyperemesis gravidarum (A total nightmare, but a story for another day). If I could go back, I would add the word yet to that brag.
Everything felt normal as I went into the OB’s office for my 36-week checkup. I was tired of being pregnant, but other than that and the constant vomiting and food aversion, I was healthy. Sitting down, the nurse took my blood pressure and then took it two more times after that. My blood pressure was dangerously high. I had no symptoms other than a headache that week.
After seeing the doctor, I was sent to the hospital immediately. I wouldn’t be leaving until I had this baby.
Preeclampsia is a complication in pregnancy that usually shows up after the 20-week mark. It is commonly diagnosed by signs and symptoms of high blood pressure, excess protein in the urine, changes in vision, and headaches. Among other signs and symptoms, weight gain and swelling are also common.
Preeclampsia trashed my birth plan completely. I had planned to try for an unmedicatedbirth. I watched hundreds of videos in preparation for how I would manage pain during birth, all of which were not linked to being tied down to a bed and unable to move. After being given Magnesium sulfate, I suffered through severe confusion and fogginess during my labor, accompanied by dizziness and vomiting. I couldn’t have gotten out of the hospital bed if I tried. Most of my labor is a blur, but I do remember seeing my son for the first time. I just wish I could have held him or reached for him. Once I got off my Magnesium trip, I wouldn’t be able to officially meet him for another 24 hours.
Those first hours of complete consciousness were excruciating knowing that I couldn’t see him. It was not the experience I had envisioned. I longed for my “Golden Hour” holding him against my chest. I don’t even remember his first cry. 24 hours after his birth, I was moved out of labor and delivery and I rushed to the NICU to meet him. My heart wasn’t prepared for the next 6 days watching him in that NICU room; praying for him, and desperately longing to bring him home. I never imagined the exhaustion I would feel exclusively pumping for him every two hours.
I felt jaded, I was angry and so bitter. Preeclampsia stole my birth and my first 24 hours with my son.
Looking back at all the tears shed during that 10-day rollercoaster, I know that it was all worth every second that led up to that moment we brought him home. We ran out of that hospital. Dad I had never felt more gratitude and relief in my life.
I have such a respect for NICU parents. We only spent 6 days there, I can’t imagine the strength it takes to stay longer. You don’t realize how strong you are until you are sitting within those NICU four walls.
Preeclampsia stole a lot from me, but it couldn’t take the love I felt for my son and the joy I felt finally bringing him home. The moment we brought him home felt like we had finally won the battle. I know I am not the first or the last mother to have this experience, to feel this anger and hurt. I hope that if you have or have had a similar experience, you learn to find peace. I hope to one day be at peace with my birth, but for now, I’ll sit here and be bitter about the things preeclampsia stole from me.