Reading through your stories, I've realised how lucky I am. I hope sharing my story will help me stop feeling sorry for myself and put me in a better position to help others.
My husband and I married in our mid thirties in September 08. I had had two previous miscarriages and no live births and varying explanations why pregnancy and I weren't suited. We were stunned to fall pregnant without any help in November 2008.
Straight away I felt uneasy. Something didn't feel right. I went to the GP to have my pregnancy confirmed. He was concerned too. Fortunately my GP had done some of his training in Australia, where to be a qualified GP you must be an obstetrician and gynaecologist as well. He took my blood pressure, and it was on the high side. He said he didn't think I'd get PE (no idea what that was at the time) but he thought it was worth explaining to me the salient points, and importantly the symptoms. He said not to worry, but to file the information away.
As my pregnancy progressed, I got worse. My blood pressure got higher, I felt so exhausted all the time, and I started to really worry. At 16 weeks I went off sick, I couldn't even get through a working day. My boss' solution was to sleep in my car at lunch time! I don't drive!
I went back to the doctor and my blood pressure was now 170/100 at 18 weeks. He referred my back to the midwife, who referred me to a consultant. Unfortuantely I saw a registrar who was just nasty. He told me I was fat, I had a higher risk of gestational diabetes that I did of pre eclampsia. He made me feel like I was the worst pregnant woman in the world. He told me to avoid stress but to keep going to work! I felt completely unsupported and so I made a complaint to PALS at our hospital and went back to my midwife. She rang the chief midwife who made me an appointment with the head consultant.
She was wonderful. She explained that she thought I may get pre eclampsia, and that I needed close monitoring. She said she didn't want to put me on medication straight away, but to monitor me fortnightly.
At 25 weeks she became very unhappy with my progress and put me on methyldopa and daily monitoring. At 26 + 5 my midwife came to monitor me as usual, and we had a very interesting conversation. She asked me if I ever got headaches. She said if I got a frontal lobe headache to ring delivery suite straight away, and she'd see me tomorrow.
Strangely later that afternoon I got a headache. I thought I had just imagined it as I was so stressed. I went and had a nap. It was worse when I woke. By 3am I was really worried, and thought its either sinus or pre eclampsia. So I had a shower. It was no better. I rang delivery suite and was told to come in and bring an overnight bag. In this bag I put a wedding photograph and a toy for an incubator.....
At delivery suite everyone was lovely, the mood was light, and I thought I was being stupid. Then blood and urine results came back. The room filled. A lovely young, tiny doctor came in and said "Mrs Hodges, you have pre eclampsia, its serious, we are holding a series of case meetings to decide when we deliver". I was shocked firstly that I had pre eclampsia, and secondly that I was right!
Later that morning the man who was to become my consultant came to see me. He was lovely, he asked me if I was a doctor, or a nurse. He could not believe I had come in with such mild symptoms, but the tests revealed I was so ill. He said he would do everything to make sure myself and my baby were ok, but if he did nothing I'd be dead in six hours. Gulp.
I had an emergency scan. The baby was in trouble, maternal diastolic flow had stopped. The baby had severe Intra Uterine Growth Retardation. I cried and cried. I got so confused, I thought they meant my baby was dead. Dr K came in and said "what's all this about? Why are you sobbing?" I replied "just be honest, the baby has died hasn't it" he put his arm around me and said "tomorrow morning at 9am we deliver a live baby".
That afternoon my husband and I tried to just pretend all was ok. I had dinner, I went to the chapel and prayed for our baby, and then came back to the ward. Everything had changed. My latest bloods were back. I was in trouble.
I went to a special delivery suite that had been turned into ITU, I was catheterised, put on magnesium sulphate infusions, my methyldopa was dramatically increased. I was so so frightened. I had monitoring every 15 minutes. My husband went home to get some sleep. I stayed awake talking to my baby and trying not to fall apart.
I did succeed in making on of the doctors cry. A junior registrar, he was just lovely, explained everything, tried to be gentle as he did horrible things to my veins, but he had an obvious look of concern on his face. In just 12 hours I had blown up like a balloon. My skin was grey, on my face it was almost black. I thanked him for all his help and for looking after me. He walked out in tears, so much so that two midwifes came in to ask me what I'd said to him to upset him!
The night wore on, my husband came at 5 am to hold my hand. The anaethetist arrived at 8am. He was very kind but said "um I need to tell you, you are not a thin person. I think I will do a general". I reached out to him"please, I'lll do anything, I'll be still, I'll be the best fat patient you've ever had but please try and give me a spinal" I was still convinced the baby was going to die, and I wanted to be awake to be with my baby if the worst happened.
So we went to theatre. I practised the hynobirthing (?!) I had learnt and visualised being a cat. I felt the needle go in. My friendly anaethetist said, "my dear, you are fat at the front, and slim at the back!"
My husband, who cannot stand the sight of blood, held my hand whilst the operation commenced. We talked about our honeymoon in Sri Lanka. The mood was somber. Then I saw everyone swoop towards my nether regions. I couldn't see our baby. Then some moments later I heard crying. "really, they shouldn't let babies in here", my husband smiled and said "that's our baby"
No one could see the baby's gender. I went to recovery and my husband was whisked away to accompany the baby to special care. My friend the anaethetist came up to me in recovery and said, "I think it was a boy but I can't be sure"
Our little boy Joseph was born at 10 am on the 8th May 2009. He was 1lb 7 oz. For 10 weeks he fought in Special Care, he defied everyone's predictions. He is now 9 months old, weighs 16lb 6oz and is doing very well. Thriving, according to our consultant visits yesterday.
Later I saw the junior registrar who was so lovely to me that night. I called at him down the corridor. He ignored me, I went up to him and he looked at me and said "god!", "no, not quite", He said "your Kylie, your well, you look fantastic!"
Pre eclampsia was terrifying. I can't get over how quickly I felt better. I felt so guilty that my body rejected the pregnancy, and for a while I felt I had rejected Joseph and it was all my fault.
Now I have realised how evil this condition is, not just for what it tries to do to our babies and our bodies, but what it does to our mental health.
I am so grateful I had a GP who taught me what to do, and believed in me. I have since found out he is that father of 3 premature babies, all born at 30 weeks.