How My Life Changed Forever, 26 Feb 04

September 18, 2006 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

“The decision to have a child is to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

We had been married for over two years and had bought a house and were ready to start a family. We decided to stop avoiding a pregnancy and just let things happen. Before long, my period was late by a few weeks and I felt flu-ish so I decided to take a test just for the heck of it. Surprise, surprise! I ended up with every pregnancy side-effect possible from the beginning – it was like my body was doing everything it could to reject this miracle growing inside of me. I had severe morning-afternoon-night sickness from 6 weeks to 24 weeks. I developed edema in my first trimester and that lasted all the way through. My blood pressure started to rise in my fourth month of pregnancy, and I went on sick leave around that time. I was not able to work with the BP issues. I was put on anti-hypertensive medication which would work for a few weeks but then my blood pressure would climb again so the medication was increased, and this repeated itself over and over again until I was 32 weeks pregnant.

I was seeing a high risk specialist by then. So my 32 week appointment did not go well. The doctor took my blood pressure and sent me straight to the hospital, don’t pass go or collect two hundred dollars. I was admitted into a private room (thank goodness) and hooked up to IV and the fetal monitor, 24 urinalysis, the whole works. By this time I was on a lot of anti-hypertensive medication which made me feel foggy most of the time. I was so swollen, my hands, my feet, my legs, actually my whole body had blown up, the nurses would weigh me and I gained 12 pounds of fluid weight in one day. I spent four long weeks in the hospital. I wasn’t allowed visitors except for my husband because any kind of stimulation would raise my BP.

My baby was handling the stress very well inside of me. He was active and thriving, thank God. By the time I had reached 36 weeks, I was taking 25 pills of BP medication a day and my blood pressure was still reaching 220/110. So at 36 weeks, I had an emergency c-section with a general anesthetic. Because I was so swollen, the anesthesiologist couldn’t even give me an epidural. The next few days are a total blur, I don’t remember much or even seeing my son for the first time. Luka was born weighing a healthy 6 lbs, 6 oz. and needed some oxygen for the first six hours, but other than that he was perfect and still is today. As soon as I delivered, my blood pressure began to drop rapidly but it was a very difficult time because all this medication was making me so sick but I had to go off it slowly. I was sent home 2 days after my c-section. After being on bedrest for 4 months I was so weak and not able to take care of myself let alone a premature infant. My blood pressure was back to normal within 2 weeks of Luka’s birth.
Emotionally though, I was a mess. Beginning the night I awoke from surgery, I developed panic attacks day and night. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I had trouble breastfeeding both because of the c-section, long bedrest making me weak and lack of nutrients in my body, and the milk supply didn’t come in. Luka had also been supplemented in the hospital with formula at the nurses’ insistance because he was losing weight and was a preemie.

The panic / anxiety was overwhelming and scary. All I ever heard about was post-partum depression. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I thought I was having heart attacks all the time and thought the stress from the pregnancy was going to kill me at any moment. Yet I was unable to talk about what was happening to me, not even with my husband, it was too scary to say outloud what was happening to me inside. I ended up opening up to my doctor his recommendation was that I needed to take anxiety medication. But I was just so relieved to finally be off all the medication from the pregnancy, the last thing I wanted to do was go on more of it! But eventually I succumbed to it, the anxiety wasn’t getting any better. I had to do something. Within one week of going on the antidepressant, I had finally become myself again. It felt like a miracle to me. I could function. I could go out in public. I could enjoy my baby. I could sleep. My husband recognized me again. I was so thankful for the release from that dark cloud.

All of this contributed to a short two weeks of breastfeeding and then I switched to formula. Looking back, I am not hard on myself for the decision I made anymore. I was at the time. I felt like a total failure. Thinking towards the future now, I know I have another chance with the next baby. I will learn from my experience with Luka and hopefully be able to do things better. It is my dream to be able to breastfeed my baby since I can’t seem to do the pregnancy thing very well. When I look at women breastfeeding, my heart breaks for that experience, I want to have that so badly.

It took me a long time to find the courage to go through another pregnancy. My family is scared to death for me. My friends think I’m crazy. I had a pre-conception consult with my high risk OB last year and I was tested for underlying conditions but nothing was found to contribute to my PIH. He gives me a 50/50 chance of developing the condition again, and hopefully it will not be worse than it was. On the scale of severity, I lucked out big time to carry Luka as long as I did and have him come out of it alive and healthy without long term consequences. For this, I thank God every day.


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