It was around the 26th week of pregnancy where I really was feeling horrible.
My morning sickness was gone, but my food aversions were relentless. So were my new co-workers who didn’t want anything to do with me. I was getting headaches, seeing spots, and had horrible dizziness. I thought maybe I was dehydrated. My husband said it was probably from the stress I was under at work.
We found our first home and moved in around the same time these symptoms were flaring, and I continued to play it safe and take it easy. After the move, I had to switch doctors and she wanted to see me bi-weekly since she didn’t have the opportunity to follow my pregnancy from the beginning. I continued going to my doctors appointments and never missed one. I was over the moon that I was having a girl and couldn’t wait to hear her little heart beating every time!
It was the dead of summer and I started to swell a ton. My doctor decided it was from the heat, because my urine samples showed no sign of protein (a sure fire sign of preeclampsia). The swelling was mostly in my hands and face in the beginning, and then it was my feet. The spots that I couldn’t blink away continued, especially when I took warm showers. My mother, being a nurse, suggested I start checking my blood pressure and bought me a cuff from Amazon. My blood pressure was going up and down constantly, but it wasn’t alarmingly high.
I stopped working around the 33rd week of pregnancy because I thought the stress was making me sick. I was unimaginably tired, which I was told was from my iron levels. But they were only slightly under the normal range. I needed to relax and my husband agreed it was for the best.
I was in my 34th week of pregnancy when I went to my bi-weekly doctor appointment. My urine was still free from protein, but they took my blood pressure and it was up to 145/90. This is high for a pregnant woman. It is also alarming when you usually have a blood pressure of 110/60. The nurse mentioned it to my doctor and I brought it up again to explain that I was concerned about it. She had me go to the hospital down the street to run a non-stress test (when they monitor the movement and heartbeat of the baby while you lay on a hospital bed) and another blood pressure test. By the time I got there, my blood pressure had dropped down to 130/78 and I was told that I could go home.
I monitored and charted my blood pressure for the entire weekend, and it went to alarmingly high levels. I called the doctor who told me to go back to the hospital Monday morning for more tests. The same tests had the same results. Everything looked “fine” and my swelling and fatigue were “just pregnancy symptoms”. One nurse actually had the nerve to tell me NOT to monitor my blood pressure from home because I would worry myself to much.
I continued to monitor my blood pressure. =D
Another doctor visit came and went with even higher blood pressure this time. My doctor was finally starting to become really concerned and sent me back to the hospital for more tests. This time, the hospital still found nothing wrong, but sent me home with a plastic jug to pee in for 24 hours. This was probably just to humor me, because I was pretty adamant that something was wrong.
I sent it back to the lab the following day and sure enough, there was protein in my urine. Lots of it!
Why wasn’t it being picked up at the doctor’s office when I produced a urine sample every couple of weeks? It was, but it was just “trace” amounts which, apparently, is common. Since the sample wasn’t large in volume, they weren’t actually getting the most accurate results.
My doctor said that since I was already in my 36th week of pregnancy, they would like for me to wait until the 37th week to induce me. I was scheduled for induction and quickly finished my nesting, which had then kicked into high gear. My baby shower was held the week before, so my husband was working overtime assembling various toys and furniture and I was working overtime washing baby clothes and telling him what to assemble where.
After 3.5 days of Cervidil, balloon catheters and Pitocin, baby Z was born. She was small, but strong. She developed jaundice from an early delivery and I was exhausted, but overall we were healthy. We were lucky.
I am not telling this story to scare, but to inform. I strongly believe that if a woman has an instinct that something is wrong, she is probably right. We need to advocate for ourselves and for our babies and play it safe.
Have you been diagnosed with preeclampsia or do you know someone who has had it? Share in the comments below!