Mom to Miles John
September 13, 2012 – September 17, 2012
Grand Rapids, Michigan
My husband and I decided to start a family in January of 2011. I promptly went off the pill and hoped that I would get pregnant quickly. It took about a year for me to finally get a positive reading, and 4 short weeks after that happened, I found out I was having a miscarriage. That was January 2012. Things weren’t progressing on their own, so I had a D&C on January 11, 2012. I was devastated and convinced the only thing that would take away the pain was getting pregnant again as soon as possible. So, in April, when we could try again, my husband and I went to Europe on vacation and the day we returned home I took another test and found out I was pregnant for the second time.
This pregnancy was difficult from the start. Within days of finding out I was pregnant, I also came down with bronchitis. While still recovering from that illness, I started having all-day sickness. At just over 6 weeks I started bleeding and of course assumed I was having another miscarriage. I will never forget how excited and hopeful my husband, Jason, and I were after seeing our son’s heartbeat on that very first ultrasound. I was sent home, stopped bleeding and spent 6 more weeks feeling nauseous every day all day, and throwing up most mornings.
At around 12 weeks I came down with a miserable high-fever flu that lasted 2 weeks. The first week after throwing up absolutely everything I tried to put in my body, I finally went to the ER, where they gave me an IV to re-hydrate me, but also couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler…so I was sent back to my OBGYN the next day for another ultrasound. Again, we were so relieved to see our sweet baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound. The second week of the flu when the fever finally went away was spent trying to get some food into my system because I was literally too weak to walk to the bathroom in my house. It was awful. When I finally recovered from that, I just went back to my all day sickness, which lasted until about 19 weeks.
From 19-21 weeks I felt good, the best I had felt in forever. I remember starving and eating non-stop (I had lost 7 lbs so far in the pregnancy) and generally being so happy for finally being over the sickness!
Then I hit 23 weeks. On Monday evening, during prenatal yoga, I developed a throbbing, miserable headache. I went home and right to bed, but couldn’t sleep at all. Finally, at 1 am, I called the doctor. Assuming it was a migraine, she called in a prescription for Tylenol with codeine to an all-night pharmacy. It didn’t do anything. The next day, with my head still throbbing, I called the doctor again – their suggestions were to drink caffeine, try to sleep and take the Tylenol with codeine every 4 hours. I also went and had acupuncture. While the needles were in me, I felt great. But, as soon as they came out, the headache came back. It did finally go away by the time I went to bed on Tuesday night.
Wednesday and Thursday, I felt fine. Then at 2 pm on Thursday, I had a routine doctor appointment. The nurse talked to me for awhile and then took my blood pressure. I could tell something was wrong. She had me give a urine sample and then had me lay down in the exam room, but she mentioned being concerned that I had preeclampsia. So, while laying on the table, I Googled it…and was terrified. The doctor finally came in, and without any small talk, told me I had to go straight to the hospital. A nurse was on her way with wheelchair to wheel me over there (it’s across the street from my office).
At the hospital, they told me my blood pressure was 200/113 and that I had severe preeclampsia and they were going to take labs continuously to see if I had HELLP syndrome as well. They put pads on my hospital bed (in case I had a seizure) and continuously told me over and over again how sick I was, that I had to relax because otherwise I could have a seizure or a stroke, and that I wouldn’t be leaving the hospital before delivering my son. When my labs came back, it turned out I had HELLP syndrome – which means that my kidneys were leaking, my liver wasn’t functioning and my blood platelets were low. I was terrified. At first, my doctor hoped I could make it 48 hours. Then that changed to 12. After only 4 hours in the hospital, my doctor came in and told me that they had to deliver within the next hour or I would die. My blood pressure was still too high to have a spinal, so they had to use a general anesthesia and I was out for the entire procedure, while my poor husband sat alone in the hallway outside the OR.
When I woke up, I was told they had delivered a tiny 1 lb. 3 oz., 11″ baby boy. My husband had already seen him in the NICU and he showed me pictures. I wasn’t able to see him until the 3rd day. Miles John, our son, was doing well that first day. I spent two more days not being allowed to visit my son, having terrifying hallucinations from the magnesium sulfate, and needing oxygen just to breathe. Finally, on the 3rd day, I got to visit him, on a gurney. It was tough. I was lightheaded, uncomfortable, and my poor son was just so, so small. I saw him again twice the next day – the first day I was allowed to shower and get out of my bed. Then, as I was getting ready to go to the NICU on his 4th day of life, his doctor came in to tell us that he had a grade 3 brain hemorrhage and basically had no brain function whatsoever. My husband and I held our sweet son while he passed. It was heartbreaking.
I was released from the hospital the next day on 9 blood pressure pills daily, Xanax and a million other things. My blood pressure has finally gone back to normal, but my life is nowhere near normal at this point. I want my son back. I want this to have never happened.
In addition, we have no idea where we stand on getting pregnant in the future. I’ve had mixed results from the OB’s at my office and am being sent to a high-risk. However, I know that I will never be told this definitely won’t happen again, and to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified of living through that experience again, and even more scared of losing another baby.
You can contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.