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Preventing Preeclampsia
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Awareness - Patient Stories

Some stories from patients who have experienced preeclampsia


Some very generous patients have offered to share their stories so that other patients may benefit from their experiences. We are most grateful to these patients.

Some names have been changed on the stories below to protect privacy, but all factual details are as submitted to us.

If you have a story you'd like to share with other women, please send us an email. Identifying details can be removed or altered before publication if you wish, and confidentiality will be assured. > Contact Us


News Articles

the guardian 

August 18, 2011
the guardian
Learning to love my baby


After a life-threatening pregnancy and a premature birth I was scared to hold my newborn daughter – or to get too attached...
Read full article on the guardian website >

Sydney Morning HeraldUnder Pressure  August 25, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald
Under Pressure


Kathleen Manson assumed her pregnancy would be an all-natural affair until high blood pressure and swelling set in. The diagnosis? Pre-eclampsia...
Read full article on the Sydney Morning Herald website >


More Stories

For more stories from women who have experienced preeclampsia see these other websites:

http://www.aapec.org.au/stories/index.php


Patient Stories

RanaTiffanyPatriceElenaKimKerriMiriamAlison • • AmandaMelindaCarolineMariaAntoniaAlice

Rana

Hi, I am currently a mother of two with the third on the way. This in itself is a miracle, as I believed that my first would also be my last. I am so happy to see all of the information and stories about preeclampsia. As there is no known cause and no strict guidelines as to who has and will suffer from it, the stories allow for one to maybe see similarities. I was pregnant with my first daughter and was ecstatic. I was a little overweight before the pregnancy, but never considered it was a major factor to the horrific pregnancy that I actually had.

By the end of my first trimester I had to take my wedding ring off. I had so much water retention early on in the pregnancy that my body split. I have stretch marks all over my body. My inner arms have them, even my ankles. Even the nurses were surprised to see them there. I was never really diagnosed with preeclampsia until after the birth of my daughter. That is the scary thing. I kept gaining heaps of weight, however, the doctor didn't really take notice of it. He never weighed me at the hospital, I only weighed myself at home. In total I put on 43kgs by the end of my pregnancy.

At 32weeks, I woke up feeling terrible. I had a headache and I couldn't talk properly. My husband called from work (as he did every morning due to my weakened state) and I could barely talk as my lips and whole face were completely swollen. He told me to go see my local GP and then come home and rest some more. I went to see her and she told my blood pressure. I was feeling so sick that I didn't ask her how high it was exactly (as I usually do). She told me it was elevated, to go home, rest and see her tomorrow.

I went home and don't remember much until my husband came home a few hours later. He left work early because he was concerned that I wasn't answering the phone. He found me passed out on the bed. He took me to the emergency room of our private hospital as I decided to go private and change doctors.

The midwife was great, she took my blood pressure and found that it was 160/120. She got me a bed immediately and called my doctor. She arrived within minutes and checked everything. As she was about to leave the room, my waters broke due to the stress on my body. She told me my baby will be delivered within the next 24 hours. My husband stayed the night with me in hospital. The next morning they induced my labour. What they didn't count on was for my body to react as it did.

My blood pressure skyrocketed and they told me that I would need an emergency c-section. They took me to theater and gave me a full spinal block. That is when the unknown to everyone happened.

My husband and doctor could only stand there and watch as I slipped into a coma as the spinal block make my blood pressure nose dive so low that my body started to shut down. The c-section was out of the question as blood loss, baby not making it and me not surviving was a major threat. Two hours of not knowing anything, I was finally woken up with the correct medication. My doctor was about to begin the procedure when my midwife (God bless them all), did an internal just before. We couldn't believe it when she told me to concentrate as my daughter was crowning and all I needed to do was push. "Do the motions of doing a poo" she said. I concentrated on working muscles that I could not feel. With three big 'pushes' my daughter was born.

I am thankful that I found out the sex of my child before the birth. Because had I not already known, I wouldn't have found out the sex of my child for hours, as after delivering her, I again lost consciousness. My beloved husband went through it all with me. He thought he was going to lose me, then he saw them taking our baby to the NICUnit. She was only 2kgs. Skin and bones. It's terrible to have seen her tubed, poked, prodded and everything else. Her liver was not functioning and they did everything in there power to make sure she improved and not deteriorated. When I woke up I was told of how luckily I was. Yes I was lucky, lucky to have such a great husband, whose heart told him something was wrong. Even with being looked after by a great doctor, it was my husband that had me at the hospital before the worst started. Which also saved my darling baby.

My daughter is now almost four and you would never know that she was a special care baby. I on the other hand considered a termination (which goes against everything I believed) because I was afraid my daughter would be left without a mother if I have complications again. I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) during my first pregnancy which was very painful, but not the most horrific part of my pregnancy. I was also told that there is nothing I can do to prevent, help (except hydro therapy) except complete bed rest and that I will most likely get it with subsequent pregnancies. But my belief was that if God intended me to be a mother of two children, then I was going to go through with this pregnancy. As 15 weeks (every early) my SPD started. Not too serve, but enough to cause discomfort. My husband made an appointment to see an acupuncturist (natropath and herbalist too). I was a sceptic, but he saved my baby, my piece of mind and changed my outlook on birth through meditation. Not only did I sail through my second pregnancy, but the birth (with epidural ... I still highly recommend western medicine too :)) was fantastic, no complications, no stitches and no health problems for my baby. She was six days over my due date weighing a prefect 3.495kg. So even though this third pregnancy was not planned, it is definitely wanted.

I also know that with proper care, and listening to my body, this pregnancy and baby will be fine. Thinking back to being adamant that my first born would be an only child, I can only count my blessings to know that she has a sister and soon another sibling. Thank you for reading my story and may I take this opportunity to thank my midwives, nurses, doctors and most importantly, my family.


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Tiffany

At just 30 weeks I had my son Shelby. My husband and I had just been married a few months when we found out we were pregnant. We were not planning on having children for at least another 3 years. However, we couldn't have been more excited. I was 24 and thrilled at the idea of being a mom. We both wanted a little boy first so when we found out the sex that was icing on the cake.

If there is such a thing as the perfect pregnancy I experienced it. My husband had the morning sickness and the weight gain. We watched my belly grow with each month. At my last dr apt he decided he would start seeing me every two weeks because my husband was a large baby when he was born and we didn't want him to get too big too quick.

This is when the doctor explained preclampsia, just for educatioinal purposes. No idea it would happen.

The weekend before my next dr visit I noticed Shelby wasn't moving very much. Hardly at all. When I went to my appointment that Thursday there were high levels of protein in my urine. When I told my doctor he wasn't moving like he usually did he decided to send me to the hospital to be monitored. He felt the baby was just positoned wrong. Or maybe he just told us that so we wouldn't panic.

I never imagined anything was wrong. My husband on the other hand was terrified. When we got to the hospital and hooked up to the fetal monitors, we were told the worst. The baby was in distress and my kidneys were shutting down. (That quick.) I was given my first steroid shot, just in case he had to be delivered in the next few days.

My blood pressure started to rise, 170/110. My dr decided to have me transported to another hospital that had a NICU and an obstretic specialist. The entire night my blood pressure and the baby was monitored. That night wasn't that bad his heart rate would drop but it always came back up within a minute.

The next morning I was given the second steroid shot. Then the doctors started coming in telling us what to expect if I did have Shelby that night. I finally realized they weren't just telling as a precaution they were telling because I was going to have him that night. I didn't understand I felt fine even though the test and monitors showed differently. One of the nurses sent my husband to the cafeteria to eat since he had not eaten since I had the day before. She told him he needed his strength because I would need him when I had the C-section.

No sooner than my husband walked out of the room the monitors started going off. I didn't get alarmed because they went off a lot. This time it didn't stop and more nurses and 2 doctors came in. I heard them yelling to prep the O.R. and call NICU. I realized at that point I was having my baby. Since it was an emergency C-section and they needed to get him out that moment.

Of course this is when everything hit me that I had been denying. I was a wreck.

I was put completely asleep. When I woke up I was in the worst pain I had ever felt. Even though I didn't have even one contraction, the pain from the c-section was unreal. They couldn't start my pain medication til I woke up completely, due to my blood pressure. They finally started the morphine drip and told me I had a little boy, 2lb 8oz. They said he was a fighter. I already knew that.

They told us he was put on a respirator as a precaution and my husband could go up when took him off. I was out so he went up. They removed the respirator after just 2 hours. He was breathing on his own. The next day I was so drugged up I don't remember anything. When I did wake up my husband told me we had a beautiful healthy little boy.

Finally, Sunday 2 days after I had him I got to see and hold him. I knew at that God had given us a miracle. I went home after 5 days. My blood pressure was regulated finally by medicine. Which I was on for 8 weeks. Shelby never lost any weight he gained about 1 oz a day. They didn't plan on him being able to drink from bottle for at least 3-4 wks. He took his first bottle when he was 2 wks. I did pump while he was NICU, it was the one and only thing I could do for him while he was in the hospital. I prayed he would come home by Mother's Day. Even though we were told he would be in NICU for at least 8 weeks.

Shelby came home after 5 weeks the Friday before Mother's Day. I still have to monitor my blood pressure and take my medicine after 4 months, but it was all worth it. Shelby is catching up with his age group mentally and physically. Still impressing all the doctors. He was never on machines and never sick.. Before Shelby I never really paid much attention to the power of prayer, now I know it is was saved us both.


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Patrice

I have read the stories on the site and I related to Antonia's the most. I am 28 years old and married. This was my second pregnancy in two years. My first pregnancy was in 2004. Sadly, I had a miscarriage in my second month. I did not feel comfortable continuing to receive services at the hospital I was going to, so I chose to go elsewhere for my second pregnancy.

When I found out I was pregnant again I was elated and scared at the same time. I went to my new OB/GYN and filled out all of the paperwork and had a consultation with an OB nurse. The appointment with the doctor was scheduled for the following week. Over that next weekend I was not feeling very well and rested practically all weekend. The next Tuesday I was at work when I started bleeding. I am a teacher so I had to find someone to watch my class during dismissal. My assistant teacher drove me to the emergency room.

After several hours of waiting to be seen, I was taken to get an ultrasound which showed that everything was normal. My husband and I were so relieved to hear that everything was alright. It was written up as a threatened miscarriage and I was put on bed rest until my doctor’s appointment.

My doctor’s appointment was two days later and all was well. However, just as a pre-caution I was told to continue bed rest until my next appointment, which was a month away. When I returned the next month everything was looking good and I was able to return to work. Although, my blood pressure continued to be border line and protein was still being detected in my urine. I had to have the normal testing and blood work done and return the next month.

By this time I was entering my fourth month. Upon returning the next month, I was told that I needed to go to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit to have a full body ultra sound done on the baby. My husband and I wanted to know the sex of the baby and we were told that it was a girl. The ultra sound tech left the room and another person returned. I did not know who the returning person was only that she was not wearing scrubs. She was fully dressed in business attire. When she entered the room she introduced herself as the high risk doctor. My heart sunk and I was in shock.

I looked at my husband in disbelief because something was wrong. She reviewed the scans that the tech did and began to speak. There are problems with the uterine dopplers and the baby is not getting the proper blood flow. I was told to schedule another appointment in two weeks for a follow up.

I was told on numerous occasions that I had protein in my urine. I did not know what that meant until I went surfing the internet. I had completed at least eight 24 hour urine screenings by the end of my pregnancy.

When I returned for the follow up visit I was told that not much had changed since the last visit. My daughter Ayana had stopped growing, due to a lack of blood flow and nutrients reaching her. We were once again devastated. My high risk doctor had me complete a blood study and recommended bed rest and a low dose irin regiment.

My next visit with the HR doctor was the most heart wrenching visit yet. We were told that Ayana was not growing anymore and that she saw fluid in her lungs, calcium deposits in her bowl, shadows in her heart, and that she was the size of a 20 week baby. I was 24 weeks at that time. I began to cry so uncontrollably that the doctor had to call someone else in to assist. All I could think about was not again. I wanted my baby to be alright. I began to wonder what was wrong with me that I could not have a normal pregnancy. We were told that we should think about terminating the pregnancy but I was not willing to accept it.

We continued with the pregnancy and were never told good news from then on out. My blood pressure continued to be extremely high. All I was worried about was trying to stay pregnant and give my baby a fighting chance. I had one final appointment before my life turned upside down. The last appointment before delivery I was crying before I even arrived, but not because of presumed bad news but because I was in pain. I had pains on the top right side of my stomach and severe back pains. I was told that I had to have an emergency c-section immediately.

The tests that were run revealed that my blood platelets ware dangerously low and my liver enzymes were severely raised. I was a wreck and very confused. By this time my family had arrived at the hospital and my pastor prayed with us and counseled my husband and I. My pastor told us that he was going to baptize Ayana as soon as the doctor gave the ok. Next thing I knew doctors were everywhere asking all these questions having my husband and I fill out forms and prepping me for surgery.

As I was being wheeled into the OR all I could think about was God please let our baby be alright. The NICU doctor told us that Ayana would come out one of two ways. She would either come out limp and lifeless or kicking and screaming. She came out kicking and screaming at 4:33 pm, weighing a mere 14 ounces. She was rushed to the NICU and that was all I remembered. When I woke up I was being pumped with magnesium, had massaging boots on my calves, and I looked like a extra puffed marshmallow. The pre-eclampsia was for real.

I stayed in the hospital for 6 days. I was home for two days when we got the call from the NICU doctor that we had to come in. Ayana passed away the next day. We had a funeral and burial for her the next week. Three weeks after her funeral I was crying because I was in pain once again. I went to the emergency room only to find out that i had a bi-lateral pulmonary embolism. I was in the hospital on Heparin for 11 days. Everyone kept telling me how lucky I was to still be alive and moving around. All I wanted was the picture album I had put together of Ayana throughout her 8 days of life. I am home now and I will be on coumadin for 6 months to a year. I am so scared to even think about another pregnancy because of the likelihood of repeating the same thing.

I am still struggling with all that has happened and may decide to seek counseling. I have a strong support system but still feel so lonely at times. I have been looking for a site like this to talk to and read stories similar to mine. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.


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Elena

After what was an uneventful and wonderful pregnancy experience with our son Henry, the last thing we expected was for something to go wrong with the next baby. My friends and I joked about how easy pregnancy and birth were for me, it was inconceivable that I would have any problems.

My pregnancy went along with no problems and we were so exceited to be having a daughter and little sister for Henry. At 35 weeks I went for my regular checkup with the GP as I was doing shared care, my blood pressure was high, so she told me to go home and rest and come back in the morning. The next day when I saw my GP again my BP was even higher and I had some protein in my urine, so she sent me to the hospital so they could check me out.

At the hospital they put me on the CTG monitor, to check my baby's heart rate and movements. The midwife didn't seem concerned (and neithe was I), telling m they'd monitor me for a few hours and then I could go home. As I sat on the monitor longer, the baby was apparently distressed, the midwife then told me I was going to have a Caesar. Again, she didn't appear concerned and I was just excited to be getting my baby early.

As they were preparing me for my Caesar, the nightmare began: the baby's heart stopeed, so in something like "ER" they raced me down corridors to surgery. I remember lying there knowing my baby was dead and there was chaos around me, the next I know I woke up and my baby was dead.

It is now known I had HELLP syndrome and I too was really sick and spent a week in hospital, but the whole experience still seems so surreal. I am now pregnant again (35 weeks) and thins are apparently going well with no signs of PE or HELLP but I don't think any of us will relax until the baby is born.

We will never get over what seems to be such a horrible nightmare but informing others about PE and HELLP will somehow make me feel as though I have done something to prevent it happening to others.

POSTSCRIPT: It has been almost a year now since we lost our little girl and it still seems so surreal. I know I'll never forget the horrible nightmare or ever fill the gap she has left in our lives but slowly things are getting back on track. I am howeer both dreading and counting down the days to Elena's birthday.

Six weeks ago I gave birth to our thrid child, Matt, a little brother for Henry. The pregnancy was really stressful but I had no signs of PE at all and we are all now enjoying every minute and feel extremely lucky to have him.


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Kim

Hi, my name is Kim and I have one child, a daughter called Hannah.

At 23 years of age and newly married I became pregnant.The pregnancy progressed fine until my 31 week check-up.I felt fine but as my obstetrician took my blood pressure I was told that I had increased protein in my urine. My BP was 160/100. (Two weeks earlier at my 29 week check-up everything was normal with a BP of 120/70.) The baby's heartbeat was good but I was told it was too small for dates. I was sent straight to hospital.

In hospital I was on strict bed rest and was put under joint care with a Professor,a renal specialist who specializes in hypertension in pregnancy. I became part of a study he was doing. I was given steriod injections to mature the baby's lungs as my carers were reasonably sure the baby would have to be delivered in a matter of days.

My BP did not respond well to oral medication.Despite all this physically I felt well,like nothing was wrong with me.The baby was monitored and according to the CTG was doing fine.The ultrasound told a different story.The blood flow through the placenta was so poor that the baby was just being kept alive ... barely, it was the size of 27 weeks at 31 weeks. It had gotten barely enough to keep it alive and none to keep it growing.

48 hours after entering hospital I was told at dinnertime that the baby had to be delivered that night or the next morning at the latest. I burst out crying because all my optimism left me with those words. As I was 31 weeks and in a small private hospital the doctor left the room to ring around the major teaching hospitals to see where she could deliver the baby.

That's when the pain hit me, it was so severe I was jumping around my bed in agony. It was liver failure.The back pain and severe hunger pains I had been experiencing that afternoon had been my liver failing. I was rushed to labour ward. People were running everywhere,my husband and I were introduced to the paediatrian and the anaesthetist while procedures were being carried out on me eg catheter, iv, bloods and the Professor constantly checking my blood pressure.He was the only one that thought of pain relief for me.100mg of pethidine barely worked, in hindsight I wonder if it had any bearing on the baby coming out flat with an apgar of 1.

My platelet count at that stage was not too bad and so I had an epidural and a c section.I don't remember much except constantly vomiting from the anaesthetic room right through the surgery.

Hannah was born at about 9pm, all skin and bones, weighing 1115g. I saw her briefly while I was in recovery.She was tubed and was taken by NETS to another hospital. I was still unstable with a BP of 210/120,a severe headache and poor urine output,not to mention being very yellow and puffy looking. I was transferred to another hospital into ICU where a long line went in and I was given SNIP amoung other drugs (such as magnesium). By this stage the platelet count was poor along with all my blood results!

Amazingly enough by the following afternoon I was on the maternity ward and taking 16 oxprenolol tablets a day. 4 days later I was medication free and having headspins as my BP was back to normal. I was discharged 6 days after I had Hannah.

It was amazing how my body recovered because she, along with the placenta, was taken out. I know it wasn't my fault but I feel bad that my body had rejected her. To make up for that I did the next best thing that I could and expressed breast milk for her starting with colostrum which was 'extracted' by a midwife while I was in ICU. My husband drove the 1 hr drive between the 2 hospitals with his esky and bottles of milk. Hannah only had my milk from day one.My husband hired a pump for 2 months and while she was in hospital I expressed 4 hourly day and night ( the alarm woke me up to do this twice each night).

Hannah did well in neo-natal ICU. No problems and 4 weeks later went to special care nursery for a further 4 weeks.She came home at 1.7kgs.She is now 4 years old, a little small but otherwise bright,a real stubborn fighter!

As for me, my LFT's were back to normal within 3 weeks of the birth. 3 months later I still had a little protein in my urine. 8 months later my urine was free of protein and a 'battery'of blood tests revealed nothing, everything was normal.( There was a mild positive to lupus but pathology could not make any more of it ).A renal ultrasound did show that the cortex of my right kidney may be a little small but the professor thought it was nothing to be concerned about, especially since I was not planning any more children.

I didn't know much about pre-eclampsia but set out to find out. Now I know I had tell-tale warning signs.

From about 22 weeks I couldn't wear rings on my fingers and many mornings I'd wake up and couldn't move my fingers.Yet my weight gain was normal until that 31 week visit. Everything I read and was told was that a little bit of oedema isn't cause for concern.

Also a few days before entering hospital I had a splitting headache at the back of my head, this must have been my blood pressure.

I'm 28 now and while Hannah would love a sibling I am not prepared to take the risk, with my own life and to worry that my child may not live.One to worry about is enough for me.I feel I would be sitting on a bomb waiting to die because I know that luck played a part in me not dying 4 years ago. I thank God for my the wonderful life I have and the beautiful, normal child I have today, how could I ask for more?


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Kerri

I had severe preeclampsia with my first baby Claire. I was 28 and fit and healthy at the time, and my pregnancy began with no problems, just a lot of excitement.

Around 22 weeks I found that my feet and ankles were beginning to swell at the end of each day. this continued up until I finished working at about 33 weeks. I was told that once I finished work and put my feet up then the swelling would ease . This was not the case, I continued to swell and the weight kept piling on.

I live in a small country town, and we are lucky to have the same doctor here each time I went for a check up. I was booked in to have my baby in the city, a 3 hour drive away and this meant a monthly trip to town for a checkup and each fortnight I saw the local GP. I was about 34 weeks when my blood pressure began rising, but at this stage there was no sign of protein in my urine and even though I had piled on the weight with fluid they sent me home after each visit and told me to rest.

Then from 35 weeks on I felt just awlful . I was so big and tight everywhere that I could not get comfortable. I couldn't sit, lie down or even get in and out of the car without help. I remember driving to the doctors surgery and having to beep the horn to get the attention of a man walking past to help me out of the car!!

By this time I had what I now know as PE warning signs. There was small amounts of protein in my urine, I had a constant headache, blurred vision - with flashes of white lights when Ilosed my eyes and the pain in my upper right hand side was unbearable. I felt sorry for my poor husband, I was just so irritable and cranky all the time. The house was a mess and I had no energy to cook a meal.

I was so sure that something was wrong, but nobody was listening to me. I went to the hospital 3 times during the week in so much discomfort but kept getting told the same thing - "this is your first pregnancy and you just don't know what to expect, everything is normal ... you are just having a large baby and the pain in your side is just the bruising you are getting from the baby kicking".

Even the midwife at the city maternity hospital told me this in my last checkup. She even had the nerve to tell me to watch my diet as I was putting on too much weight too quickly. I had managed to put on 8 kilos in the last week and a total of 38 kilos during the pregnancy, but yet again no one listened when i told them that i wasn't eating because I was just to bloated to fit anything in..

We were so desparate at this time that my poor hubby was ringing around different hospitals speaking to midwives about how I was feeling.

Sadly only one of them told him about PE (she works at a hospital in a town of about 500 people) and we were told this too late as that same day I went into labour!!

Finally it all came to a happy end when I was 38 weeks ... my waters broke and I flooded the bedroom and the 4 beachtowels that I held between my legs. We had to make a mad dash to the city (a 3 hour drive, remember) as we had not planned to go for 2 more days. (I had been so unhappy the last few weeks that I had not even had the energy to pack a bag for me or the baby!!)

When I arrived at the hospital they took my blood pressure,50/117 and looked at my feet, face and hands and suddenly there were doctors everywhere. Finally someone was taking notice of me. I was then told that I had severe PE and needed to get the baby out asap.

I went into a panic but I think deep down I was a little relieved that I had been diagnosed with something other than "first time mum syndrome" and that it would all be over soon . 8 hours later Claire arrived. I was pumped full of magnesium to stop fitting and this made me feel yuk, but other than that the labour went smoothly.

I was lucky not to have suffered any long term liver damage (I was later told that was the pain I was feeling in my right side) and my vision restored itself but I did have to get stronger prescription glasses.

Claire was just perfect at 7 pound, (not the huge baby that everyone kept telling me I was having) and I spent 3 nights in ICU and came home a week later, during this week I lost 33 kilos. My blood pressure went back to normal about 7 weeks later and by then the fluid had all gone and I looked normal again, my ICU nurse did not recognise me when I returned for a visit, without the swollen face and eyes!!

Ii wanted to share my story and hope that this may make others aware of how my symptoms were ignored and put down to me being a first time mum. I knew something was wrong at the time but we just put the trust in the doctors that they knew best, and I was very lucky to have such a happy ending to such an awful pregnancy. I now hear other mums who say they could never go though the labour again, well Claire is only 6 months old and sadly at this stage in my life I know that I could not go through the 9 months of pregnancy again, give me just the labour any day!!


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Miriam

I was diagnosed with preeclampsia in my fourth pregnancy.

I was in my 5th month when I started having severe headaches and abdominal cramps. I was in the military at the time and thought it was from my activities and the summer heat. After a couple of days when the symptoms had not passed I reported to my doctor. My first BP check when I got there was 154/110, right away they put me in a bed on my left side hooked up to a fetal monitor and blood pressure cuff. I was given a BP medication to start taking and put on light duty.

By my 6th month I was put on complete bed rest when it was determined the medication was not helping as long as I was active. At this time I noticed I was gaining a lot of weight even though I did not notice any swelling.

By my 38th week I was feeling so ill that I felt I couldnt even pick my head up off the pillow without it pounding. My husband was out of town so I went to the hospital by myself for a check. I was immediately admitted and my husband was called to come home. I was put on a magnesium drip and propped on my left side where I stayed.

On the third day of my hospital stay I was finally told they would start the pitosin to induce labor. Three hours later our daughter was born.

I became very shaky. I remember the nurse coming in checking by blood pressure and giving me a shot of medication in my IV. I don't remember anything after that.

The medication was given to me around 2 p.m. The next thing I remember was a nurse coming in around 7 p.m. asking me to feed my daughter. I was breastfeeding her and we had no problem with this.

The next day I was finally, after 4 days, allowed to get out of bed to take a shower. While in the shower I started having a contraction and felt like I was giving birth again. I passed a blood clot close to the size of a grapefruit. The nurse came in to recover it from the shower and take it to the lab. I was told that there was no problems with it and not to worry about it.

That night the pediatrician came in to tell me they were going to have to put an IV in my daughter and put her under the blue lights because she was turning red and her blood test were showing too many red blood cells.

She is now 3 years old and if you saw her you would not give her a second glance but she has had a rough road. She has been in the hospital at 14 months with pneumonia, her speech is developing slowly and the potty training is still not done. The only reason why I know she is behind is from raising my other daughters. I have asked my doctors and hers if these are the effects from the preeclampsia or magnesium that we were both on for days.


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Alison
Alison and baby.

My name is Alison. I had preeclampsia with my first baby Rosalinda.

I have never had a blood pressure problem before and my Obstetrician was surprised when I had a blood pressure of 170/120 in the very early part of my pregnancy.

Anyway, this settled down and every thing seemed to be going OK. I was very puffed up and had to stop wearing my wedding ring from about 5 months onwards.

I ruptured my waters unexpectedly at 37 weeks and due to an abnormal position of the baby (footling breech) had to be delivered by a caesarean section late one night. We were almost but not really prepared for the baby to come early, but luckily for Rosalinda, she was ready to come.

Most of my problems happened immediately after the delivery. I had very high blood pressure and was making lots of fluid. The Obstetrician (who was fantastic) asked a specialist in preeclampsia to see me to give advice about the blood pressure and the fluid.

The other thing that happened was that I had a blind spot in my vision, looking high and to the left. The blood pressure settled down to normal levels after 3 days and I lost 17 kilograms in weight! It took 4 months for my vision to return to normal, and luckily my blood pressure has not been a problem since then.

Rosalinda was born at 2450 grams which is less than expected. She had such a skinny body compared to her big head. She had a bit of trouble keeping her body temperature at first, but she was fine and is thriving well.

I was surprised at the problems with my vision. It seemed that the blood pressure was never really high enough to cause concern. I now realize that the effects of preeclampsia often involve the blood pressure but can put stress on other parts of the body, and luckily for my family, I did not have a stroke.

I think greater awareness of preeclampsia would have made this a generally less frightening experience for us all.


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Amanda

I had preeclampsia with my first child. As I was reading Alison's story on the site, I was dumbfounded by the similarities... My story, however, seems to be a bit more frightening (to me, anyway).

Well, it all started out sometime after month four of my pregnancy. I had to take all of my rings off. This was the only thing different for a while until, I really started to gain some weight. My face began swelling along with my hands, feet, legs (and not to mention my stomach!) My mother of five began getting worried and started telling me to tell my doctor about my symptoms. She thought that I had preeclampsia. I did talk to my doctor about my symptoms, and they checked my blood pressure often.

After a while, my feet continued to swell up until I couldn't wear any shoes except flip-flops (and even those left indentions on my feet.) I remember one night, when I was about 8 months pregnant getting a head-ache (which I never get). I called my mother and told her about it, and of course she insisted that I get my blood pressure taken. I went to the nearest drug store and noticed that my blood pressure was abnormally high, for some reason. I went back home, and called my mother. She told me she was taking me to hospital whether I liked it or not. So I waited for her.

When we got to the hospital, they monitored me, and noticed that I had a lot of protein in my urine. After a short while, my blood pressure decreased, and they sent me home to do a 24-hour urine sample. I completed the sample and returned it to the hospital the next night. When they monitored me the next night, my blood pressure was up again. The nurses told me that I was having some premature, small contractions and then I remember the nurses coming into the room telling me that they were going to deliver me.

They sent me to a room where they began to try to induce my labor. Since my blood pressure was up, they gave me some Magnesium drops in an IV, so that I wouldn't have any seizures. They also did not let me eat or drink anything, and believe me, I was so thirsty and hungry! The only thing I could do was eat on some ice.

I don't believe that my body was ready to go into labor yet, because I was in labor for four days, before I had to begin pushing. I can say, however, that I was blessed because it only took me nine minutes of pushing to get my daughter out. I was so relieved. But then the scariest part was to come.

When my daughter was born, she did not cry. I was so scared that something was wrong with her, but the doctors told me that the magnesium just made her very weak. She was also very small because she was induced five weeks early. They then took her to the Neonatal ICU or NICU. I was then instructed to try to push my placenta out. But I had no more contractions. They then told me that they had to manually extract my placenta by reaching in, and pulling it out themselves. I was a bit nervous.

About two hours after giving birth I remember lying in bed and feeling two big gushes of something come out of me. It felt like my water broke two more times. Then, the doctor walked in, and I informed them that I thought that I was bleeding. A lot. I was haemorrhaging. The doctor checked and immediately called staff to bring in the ultrasound machine.

They used the machine to see if there was anything left in my uterus, and sure enough, they found that there were small pieces of my placenta still inside of me. The next thing I remember was the anesthesiologist coming in, and asking if I wanted another epidural or just a spinal, because they were going to rush me to the Operating Room to do a D&C on me. I still didn't realize how serious the matter was until the doctor handed me a form to sign that stated that if need be, I will allow them to take my uterus out.

The operation was supposed to be a 15-minute operation, which ended up being about two or more hours. Documents state that my blood was not clotting, and I kept haemorrhaging. After eight blood trasfusions and a lot of manual pelvic compressions by the doctor, my blood finally began to clot. After I was sent to ICU, they had to give me a Central Line (on my chest) so that I could receive a bag of frozen plasma. They also had given me platelets.

In the meantime, my daughter was doing well, eating well, etc. I finally got to see a Polaroid picture of her, since I hadn't seen her since she was born. After spending a long time in ICU, I was then transferred to the Mother-Baby Unit (MBU) of the hospital, so I could be with my daughter.

This is the time when I noticed that my eyes weren't normal. It seemed as if, in both eyes, there were dark spots, in the upper-left part of my sight. It looked as if I was looking through very dark sunglasses in those areas or spots. I was sent to the eye doctor that night, and some of the student-doctors (interns) thought that I needed to have eye-surgery for detached retinas. I thought that I was going blind. Though, when the specialist came to see me, he stated that it could get better on its own.

While in the hospital, close watch was administered to me by nurses and doctors to make sure that my blood pressure stayed down and to make sure that there would be no more bleeding of a large amount. I actually gained more weight after I had my daughter than I gained with her. I am normally about 115 pounds. While pregnant, I got up to 145 pounds (and my daughter weighed 5lbs. 13oz.) ; so most of that weight was FLUIDS from the EDEMA (or swelling). After I had my daughter, I then gained even more.

I was in the hospital for a total of ten days, when I was hoping to only be there for 3 at the most. After being sent home, getting around was very hard because of the pain and pressure on my uterus. But within about a week or two, I lost all of my weight and was back to 115 pounds.

I thank my mother for being a mother. I probably would not have made it if I hadn't gotten seen when I did. And I do agree that everyone should become aware of preeclampsia and its possible side effects. This is definitely NOT something that you would want to joke around with, especially if it could jeopardize a life (or two)!

Thank you for reading my story, for I feel it is a miracle. My daughter is one year old now, and is as healthy as can be. I am healthy as well, and I thank God for his love.


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Melinda

My name is Melinda and I had preclampsia with my first pregnancy at 19 years of age. I read these articles and I found my situation to be quite different.

I started swelling at about four months. My ankles and feet would swell so much I had to wear bedroom slippers all of the time. At 18 weeks I was diagnosed with toxemia and by 23 weeks was on complete bed rest. At 26 weeks I was put into the hospital with a blood pressure of 190/120 and was having urine samples taken around the clock.

The day I turned 27 weeks I woke up with a bad headache and pains in my abdomen. The doctor came in to check me and told my husband and I that they would be taking the baby by C-section.

They did not give much hope for my baby being born at 27 weeks, but Joseph was born weighing a whole 1 pound 14 ounces and was 13 inches long. He cried out when they first took him, I didn't even get to see him they just rushed him to the NICU. After the surgery visitors had to check with the nurses station before entering, I began running a little fever.

Two months after I had Jonathan the swelling was still present and I developed Pseudo-tumor cerebri. The toxemia/preclampsia was very severe in my case and is still affecting my today. I am now pregnant with my third child and so far everything is going well. Joseph and his brother Joshua are excited about having a new baby. Pray it's a girl!!


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Caroline

Hello my name is Caroline. I had preclampsia with my first child Sabina which I consider my miracle baby. When I was six months pregnant I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. My doctor did not explain to me the seriousness of my condition at this time. I was put on bed rest at this point.

When I was about 35 weeks I was referred to a nurse to schedule further tests. I then asked a million questions. The nurse then explained to me that I was being screened for preclampsia and explained all the side effects. I was sent home a Friday with a large container to fill with urine and was asked to return to the doctor on Monday.

I knew at this time I was in trouble because I had lots of swelling, protein was in my urine and a had a terrible headache that would not go away. I decided to go to the Emergency Room after speaking with my cousin. At this time my blood pressure was 155/110. I then began having trouble breathing and was given oxygen. I was given magnesium, but my blood pressure continued to rise. I just felt that my senses were going. I prayed to get through my delivery.

I was induced right away, but nothing happened. They told me I would start feeling contractions, but I only felt sleepy. Over four hours nothing seemed to happen. For a least an hour after this, I then started to feel contractions and my baby weighed 4lb 15 oz.

My baby was fine, but she was sent to ICU for observation for a day.

At that point I never knew I would try to have another baby. In 1999 I became pregnant with my second child. I really did not have any complications until I was 37 weeks. I just did not feel well and my vision was blurry one Saturday and decided to go to my doctor. At this point I had a wonderful doctor who was very attentive to me. Anyway, that Saturday my doctor diagnosed me with preeclampsia and sent me to the hospital for induction. I had a healthy baby girl who weighed 5lbs.6 oz.

I really thought that my experience with preclampsia has helped me to thank God daily and has brought a close bond with my children and with God.

Just when I thought my days were over of having children, now at age 27 I am now 37 weeks pregnant with my first son. I went into preterm labor at 33 weeks for an unknown reason. I was hospitalized and was given medication to stop labor. At this time I take my blood pressure daily. I notice that it is now going up and at my last visit I had 1 percent protein in my urine. I am very concerned and I just want my doctor to induce me before my condition gets any worse. I have a lot of abdominal pain, my eyes pain me and I just don't feel right. Keep me in prayer.


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Maria

I had preeclampsia with both my pregnancies in 1979 and 1981. If I can provide you with information that might help you with your research I would be very happy to. The preeclampsia was very severe with the first pregnancy - Stuart was induced at 37 weeks and by the time I delivered him I was passing pure protein and given anti seizure drugs immediately and monitored very closely for the next 24 hours.

Stuart did not breathe for the first 20 mins but fortunately my Obstetrician had the foresight to have a Paediatrician on hand and it turns out the drugs they had given me to keep my blood pressure under control had passed through the placenta (which was not working efficiently) and made him very "dopey". He was 2.52 kgs when born. My husband and I were told that if they hadn't induced the pregnancy Stuart would only have lasted in utero for another couple of days as the placenta had almost totally broken down.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that Stuart is now a healthy 23 yr old and apart from having a total transfusion after his birth has suffered no ill effects from his traumatic start to life. I now realise how fortunate we both are to be here today to tell the story.

Fortunately the second pregnancy was much less severe and although Alice was born at 38 weeks she weighed a healthy 3.5kgs and neither of us had any ill effects.


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Antonia

I'm glad you are doing this very important work. My son Calvin died around the 29th week of my pregnancy, this past March. I was 30 years old, had started my pregnancy perhaps 20 pounds overweight and had normal blood pressure -- though my diastolic pressure had read borderline high once or twice in the year or two before my pregnancy and was recorded slightly above 90 once early in my pregnancy, but no one felt that it was any cause for immediate concern.

I was plagued by severe morning sickness, but my pregnancy seemed perfectly healthy. I was gaining weight at exactly the rate my midwives felt was appropriate for my pre-pregnancy weight, I took prenatal yoga and continued to get moderate exercise, I went to Bradley classes and began learning about childbirth. I did have an abnormal Triple Check blood test -- my AFP levels were high, indicating the possibility of neural tube defects -- but Level 2 ultrasounds, and subsequently autopsy, attested to the normal development of my baby.

It was early in the morning on New Year's Day when I first felt the baby move (I had been careful not to find out the sex during the ultrasounds ... I wanted to have all the excitement at the birth).

Things started to get funny in my 27th week, a week after my last (completely normal) checkup. I developed a terrible stomach flu and after 12 hours of agony ended up on the maternity ward to get anti-nausea medication and be rehydrated. I have asked and asked, but it does not seem that this had anything to do with the pre-eclampsia. I did not develop HELLP, and a bad stomach flu was going around then. The nurses had seen many pregnant women come in dehydrated from vomiting.

That morning on the maternity ward, my blood pressure was fine and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for several hours. The baby's heartrate was a little fast, but that was attributed to the stress of the situation.

The one thing that disturbs me is that no one checked my urine.

I went home from the hospital with a prescription for suppositories to help quell any further nausea. I was reluctant to use them, but continued to be very sick for several days and did resort to them once or twice. I slept for most of 5 days, I think, and did not eat very well at all during that time.

Once I started feeling a little better, I noticed that I was having killer headaches, but I thought they were because I hadn't been eating right for so long. Besides, I have a tendency to get migraines, so I didn't realize I should be alarmed by the flashes of light that accompanied them. It wasn't for another week that I understood they were related to my sky-rocketing blood pressure.

As I began to eat more, the headaches seemed to be subsiding, so I decided against calling my midwives to report them. Besides, as I understood it, the main symptom of pre-eclampsia is swelling, which I did not have. I have kicked myself about this many, many times, wishing I had done something more, but by all indications my baby had probably already died by the time I had any suspicions.

At the end of this week, I began to realize I hadn't been feeling the baby move as much. Up until then, I had been so sick myself that I wasn't really paying attention. I called the office and they told me to drink cold juice and lie down and count the movements. I fooled myself into believing I was feeling movement that I couldn't have been feeling. My baby was already dead. That was on a Friday, but we didn't know until the following Monday. I'm glad of that actually. That weekend my husband and I really started nesting and feeling like we were ready for parenthood. It was a wonderful weekend and I am glad we had it. I think it made what came next more bearable somehow.

Monday morning, I was finally feeling pretty normal again. My husband and I went to see our main midwife for a check-up before heading off to work (to which I was finally returning). My blood pressure was high -- about 130/100, I think. I was shedding protein in my urine. My midwife was concerned, but said she'd check my pressure again at the end of the visit. We talked about finding a pediatrician. I went over the details of my flu with her. I told her about the headaches and the flashes of light. She knitted her brow and asked me about swelling. I HAD NONE.

She asked me to lie back so she could listen for the baby's heartbeat. The first dop-tone machine was malfunctioning -- it didn't even pick up my heartbeat, so she went to get another. There was still no heartbeat. There was a change in her face I will never, ever forget. In that instant I knew, but did not want to believe, what was happening. It took my husband much longer to understand. There is an ultrasound lab right in the office my midwife is in, but they had a 3-hour wait even for an emergency. Luckily, the office happens to be on the ground floor of the hospital, so she called up and arranged for a resident to do the ultrasound on the labor and delivery ward. We still had to wait at least 30 minutes. During that time, I was trying as hard as I could just to clear my mind, to think nothing, not to worry, not to hope, just to wait. My husband, on the other hand, kept telling himself that everything was going to be OK.

We finally got into a room on labor and delivery -- a room we did not leave for 3 days. The resident came in, did the ultrasound, told us flatly that she could not find a heartbeat, and left. The sky had fallen. It was an earthquake, a trainwreck, a disaster. Our baby was dead. My husband hadn't even understood what the resident had said, but he knew from my reaction what was going on.

For awhile there was talk of letting me go home for awhile and go into labor on my own, something I wanted very much, so that I could have a chance to process what was happening. But my blood pressure was 180/120 and I was in danger of seizures or a stroke, and they couldn't let me leave. An hour and a half after arriving for my check-up I was admitted to the hospital. They put me on magnesium sulfate and tied pillows to my bed rails in case I had a seizure -- which thankfully I did not. They induced labor slowly. My midwife lobbied to have it done as gently as possible. Bless her. About 36 hours later they finally started a pitocin drip to speed the things along. Meanwhile we had been asked all sorts of questions no one should ever be asked -- did we want to see the baby? what did we want to do with the body? It was surreal.

My plans for a natural childbirth now completely moot, I asked for pain relief and finally an epidural. At 11:14 PM, March 20, 2001, when I was exactly 30 weeks pregnant, my son was born dead. They took him away and cleaned him up before we saw him, because we wanted to wait until our midwife was there -- the final stages had happened too quickly for her to get to the hospital for the birth. When she arrived, she brought him in to us and my husband and I both held him briefly and looked at his perfect little face then said goodbye and let him go. Later someone came up from the morgue to do all the paperwork for an autopsy and for the hosptipal-arranged memorial.

It was two more days before I was able to go home. My blood pressure returned to normal within 36 hours of giving birth and has remained so since then.

The autopsy showed that there may have been problems with blood profusion in the placenta from early on, but that Calvin was by all appearances a healthy, normal boy, perhaps slightly underweight, when he died. His time of death was estimated to be 1 - 2 weeks before his birth, sometime while I was sick or recovering from the flu. I never really knew things like this happened, even though my own mother is a maternal-newborn nurse. Even she had never seen anything quite like what happened to me, neither had my midwife, and the doctor she practices with, who supervised my care in the hospital, says the suddenness and severity of my case is very unusual. It's a big, nationally famous women's hospital, and they see it all, but still . . . they have very few answers.

They ran all sorts of blood tests, looking for auto-immune disorders or genetic problems. Everything came back normal. That is good in terms of future pregnancies, but still, it leaves us with so little. We have no idea why or how this happened.

I think I was more educated than a lot of people are when they get pregnant. I knew what pre-eclampsia was. I even worried that I might be at risk for it because of my weight. But I thought that there would be swelling. I thought that there would be more of a window for them to detect my rising blood pressure and do something. I didn't know how dangerous it really could be.

Now, I look at pregnancy advice books, and I am infuriated. Each of them seems to have a different explanation of pre-eclampsia, if the mention it at all. None of them really explain the fact that no one, not even the experts, really understands what this disease is or how it functions. My son is dead and I can never change that, but I would like to find a way to help other women so that this never happens to them. My grief is still too fresh for me to know how I am going to do that yet. I am a writer and a teacher. Someday, somehow, I would like to write and educate people about this disease. I am glad you are already trying to do that and to find a way to detect, prevent and treat it.


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Alice

I read with interest and empathy of the stories contained in your web site. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 34 weeks gestation.

At the time, I was a "healthy, normal weight" 32 year old. I went to my GP for my normal pre-natal checkup and was admitted into hospital for overnight observation as my blood pressure was slightly high at 150/90. My overnight stay extended to two weeks.

As we live in Kalgoorlie, the hospital does not have the facilities to deliver an "unhealthy" baby at 35 weeks, hence my extended two week stay in hospital until I reached 36 weeks. We came home three weeks later with our c-section, 5lb 5oz healthy baby girl, Maggie.

Maggie received no oxygen as she could breathe on her own nor did she receive any special medical attention on her delivery but she did have to have x-rays at 1 day old as the Paediatrician thought she might have clicky hips. We don't know if this was attributable to preeclampsia or not as apparently, my umbilical cord was not very long and we guess, this meant that Maggie could not move around as freely. My placenta was not very big as well.

Reading the other ladies stories, I did not have any symptoms of excess fluid retention nor blurred vision but my blood pressure continued to increase, peaking at 150/110 and I obviously had traces of protein in my urine and I looked and felt an absolute wreck. My obstetrician is still undecided whether my preeclampsia was pregnancy induced or was hereditary as there is blood pressure in both my husband and my family.

I have been taking Noten for twelve months to stabilise my blood pressure but was advised to change my medication to Methyldopa as we are planning to fall pregnant again. This is where my story differs, my blood pressure has not decreased even though I have been taking Methyldopa four times a day for the last 12 months.

I visited my obstetrician yesterday who informs me that I'm one of the 10% of women who's blood pressure does not return to "normal" after their first pregnancy. He informs me that our next pregnancy will be the same if not more traumatic than the first and dare say that my Methyldopa will increase to the maximum of 3grams/day and I have visions of being bedridden for the majority of the pregnancy - as I mentioned, we live in Kalgoorlie which is five hours drive away from both of our families.

Consequently, I'm apprehensive, confused and not to mention, in two minds at the moment of the prospect of falling pregnant again. My health will be at risk not to mention that of our baby. I thought that my experience is slightly different than the norm and if you're interested, we would be happy to advise you of our upcoming events !! We wish you continued success with your research and hopefully, you can answer many unanswered questions. Cheers.


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