May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Our guest post today is a personal story from Kelly Thomas of the Preeclampsia Foundation.
When I became pregnant I was determined to do everything right. I read all the popular books, took vitamins faithfully, and gave up diet soda.
Still, it was a difficult pregnancy. At 24 weeks, the swelling began. First it was my feet. Soon, I could no longer wear my wedding rings. Next, elevated blood pressure. My mother, a registered nurse at my OB/GYN‘s office, began to monitor me at home.
Every morning and every night she would come to my house to take my blood pressure and ask seemingly never-ending questions. I was annoyed. Not only was I sentenced to horribly boring bed rest, my mother wouldn’t get off my case.
One morning my blood pressure was extremely high. Her questions began. Yes, I had a stabbing pain in my upper right side. Yes, I had a headache that wouldn’t go away. Yes, my urine is a darkish black/brown color. Then she found I had pitting edema in my arm. She wanted me to go to work with her in order to see my doctor immediately. I, however, was not going to be the “whiney pregnant girl:” how embarrassing! I had an appointment at 1:00 pm that day; surely I would be fine until then.
But she used the, “I’m your mother tone,” so I went with her, begrudgingly.
When we arrived, the doctor immediately recognized the severity of my symptoms (thanks to mom’s couch triage), and I was sent to the hospital. I had never heard of preeclampsia and I did not understand the gravity of the situation. Thank goodness my mother did. She knew that her baby, and her baby’s baby, were in grave danger. Yet she kept her cool and made me get the help she knew I desperately needed.
By 1:00 PM, the time of my scheduled appointment, I was in an ambulance on my way to the closest hospital with a Level III NICU. Early the next morning, Carley was born at 33 weeks by emergency c-section, weighing 2 lbs. 15oz.
Weeks later I found the Preeclampsia Foundation and began to understand the severity of the disorder that had taken over my pregnancy. Most importantly, the Preeclampsia Foundation gave me the ability to become educated and the courage to try again. Though I developed preeclampsia with our son, Colt, who was born at 35 weeks, I had the knowledge to be my own advocate. With the encouragement of my Foundation friends, I wasn’t embarrassed to speak up when I felt something was wrong.
Today Carley is a feisty 5 year old. I too am healthy. However, the outcome could have been very different. Our story proves the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. I was ignorant as to what was happening to me. I didn’t want to be a complaining, overreacting, pregnant lady. I realize now how silly and dangerous my attitude was. If it hadn‘t been for my mom, the nurse, I would have waited until my appointment. By then, it may have been too late. My mom gave me life. My mom saved my life.