Approximately 5% of all pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia.
This is her story.
Dear The Band,
The response I received to Kyle's story was overwhelming. I was so touched by each and every comment, by every person who took the time to read about his loss even though it was so tough to do, by every shared tear, and by every clenched jaw. The love and support you offered up was wonderful!
This was how I finally grieved for his loss and I was so fortunate to have all of your arms to hold me as I did so. Words cannot express my gratitude, but thank you all the same.
Quite a few of you asked if I ever went on to have another child. I would like to share that story here.
As I was riding home from the hospital that beautiful May afternoon, I turned to my boyfriend and said "Never again. I'm done." He knew what I meant. He could see the horror of the previous evening and agreed.
Life went on.
Neither of us remember having "the sex," especially not UNPROTECTED sex, so it was a complete shock when I missed my period a few months later. I was petrified. The nightmare of losing Kyle was still fresh, so vivid. There was no way I could be pregnant. No.Fucking.Way.
I peed on the stick. Two lines. Shit.
I made an appointment with my doctor, scared out of my mind to hear her reaction. Not only did I vow to myself never do this again, I'd made promises to my doctor, as well. I know she was scarred by our experience. She'd never been through such an ordeal and I was afraid she wouldn't treat me. There was no other doctor that I could trust, that I would trust.
Shakily, I walked into my appointment. She thought I was in for a checkup. I smiled weakly and whispered, "I might be pregnant," before I completely broke down. Through my sobs I asked her, "How could I possibly be pregnant when I haven't HAD SEX? This has to be a mistake. I can't go through this again." She took me out to the flower-filled courtyard where we sat in a swing and we talked about Kyle. She listened to my fears. Then, we made a plan.
Have I told you how much I love my doctor, how blessed I was to have her?
Every Tuesday at 4:00, I had a standing ultrasound appointment. No one knew why I had lost Kyle, so the theory was that my cervix was weak. The ultrasound measured the length of my cervix and if it looked like it was shortening at any time, I'd get a cerclage (stitching up my cervix).
The upside? I have forty bajillion ultrasound photos of my little man (I knew he was a boy almost immediately).
My wonderful doctor filled me with hope. Our mantra was "27 weeks." If we could make it to 27 weeks, then my baby had a very, very good chance of survival. We lived for 27 weeks.
We made it. We celebrated!
28 weeks: I felt GREAT! I was loving life. I loved being pregnant and I loved, loved, loved my little son. I couldn't wait to meet him! My photo album full of ultrasound photos got shown to everyone who would sit still for a few minutes.
At my check-up, my blood pressure was high. Not just a little up - way, way, way up. I had more tests and was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. But...I felt like a million bucks! I didn't feel sick, I didn't have headaches, blurred vision or water retention. I felt wonderful! My doctor scheduled a stress test.
30 weeks along: I was flying high as a kite; nothing could be wrong! I be-bopped my way into that stress test knowing everything was gonna come out roses. Look how far we have come, I thought. We are going to make it!
The test ended. See, that was easy!
I was getting dressed when I started feeling...kinda woozy. I felt weird pressure...then lots of weird pressure. I called the nurse, who hooked me back up to the machine.
I was in labor.
I got some some drugs to stop labor while the hospital called the med-flight plane. I was going on a little trip. They wanted the best neonatal hospital in case my son decided it was the day to be born, and this hospital was not equipped for a 30-week delivery.
I was getting excited about my baby coming. I couldn't understand why everyone wanted to stop my labor! I was ready! In my head, everything was fine! Two ambulance trips and one plane ride later, (I was strapped flat on a stretcher in a tiny airplane and as we hit patch after patch of turbulence I remember going "Weeeeeeee!" because it felt like a roller coaster) I arrived at Super Mega Hospital.
My labor had stopped and I was admitted while being given a course of steroid treatments to help my son's lungs develop. I figured I'd be discharged in a couple of days, maybe with my son!
I was put on complete bed rest; no trips up to use the restroom - I was given the option of a bed pan or a catheter. A machine took hourly blood pressure readings. I still remember those bruises. There is not much sleep to be had when you're woken up every hour for vitals.
Two weeks later, I begged to be discharged. I was going crazy in the hospital; I missed my friends and family and my bed, and I was so far from home. I didn't understand how I could feel so great if I was truly so sick. The doctors told me that I was at risk for a stroke, seizure, or death. Dammit, I didn't feel sick!
I was discharged with strict orders to see my doctor the next day. My doctor asked to meet me at the hospital for another stress test. It was a trick. She wanted to admit me until the delivery. Not again, I thought! She offered to have me stay with my boyfriend's parents (who lived 70 miles from my house) if I remained ON TOTAL BEDREST with a home health nurse and a computer that transmits vitals every morning and night.
So in other words...I had my choice of prisons.
My doctor convinced me using threats of stroke, blindness, seizures or death. But I still felt good, people! I felt amazing! It made no sense to me. I gave in to her but I still did not understand. But this was for my son...I was doing it for him.
I chose the home-based prison. And really, my in-laws were so wonderful to take me in, to wait on me hand-and-foot because I wasn't allowed up except to use the bathroom. They took me to every appointment and they made me feel like a princess. Still, I counted the hours until I could be home again.
At almost 36 weeks along, my doctor decided the waiting was over. The panic in her eyes was clear as she read my blood pressure. She admitted me to Labor & Delivery within the hour.
A nurse came in and her eyes bugged out as she read the Pitocin drip. She said she'd never seen such a high dose administered so quickly before. They were going all out! The rest of the staff murmured in the hallway; I could make out "risk of stroke" and "heart attack."
On my mind was my son. I was determined to do the best I could by him. I felt so proud as I breathed through most of the pain. I felt great. I thought, "I'm gonna master this labor thing like a champ!"
The nurses faces were clouded with concern as they read my vitals. I got an epidural and pressed the button exactly once. The nurse walked in a few minutes later and I screamed, "Get my doctor!"
My doctor rushed in, put on her gown and got ready. The room was soon packed. It seemed that the entire hospital staff was in my room. They remembered last May when my son passed away, and they were all excited to be there.
One push is all it took and my son was born. He cried - what a wonderful sound it was! The staff cooed as they examined him. He peed on his daddy. I was so happy; content. Look at what we just did! Congrats to us!
Then, all went black.
(I am leaving this part out, Band. I was not awake to tell you what happened and I have blocked out what I was told. I don't have any desire to find out; I don't need any more horror to think about. I do know that, per our plan, this was my last birth and they tied my tubes.)
I woke up in a new room - the OR Recovery Room - my throat raw from the breathing tube. I had two new incisions and a mess of bruises. A nurse leaned over and said, "Welcome back." I guess I was sick after all.
Hours passed and, at last, I was able to hold my son, my little preemie, my little old man. He weighed in at an even 5 pounds. He was perfect. He was mine. I decided I would never let him go.
We named him Zach. We always knew we would.
Six days before the one year anniversary of losing Kyle, we held our miracle baby - the one we can't remember conceiving, the one who is here all the same.
He will be 8 in May.
If asked, I would do it all again for him. Every single bit.16 Comments