Pre-Eclampsia Stories - Lynne and Mark Roberts Story

Typical of me, I had everything planned well in advance; a nice normal delivery in the Birth Centre and home a few hours later. What I did not plan on was Pre-Eclampsia.

At twenty weeks, I commenced medication for my Essential Hypertension; a condition I was not aware I had. This was the beginning of thorough monitoring of my baby and myself. The pregnancy progressed slowly and the underlying blood pressure problem was always of concern.

At twenty-nine weeks my blood pressure remained elevated and blood tests revealed that my kidney and liver functions were deteriorating. I was admitted to hospital for observation. What a shock! The first couple of days in hospital were boring and I spent the whole time convincing myself that my blood pressure would go down and the blood test results wouldimprove so that I could go home. I did not need to be in hospital, I felt perfectly well. Unfortunately the blood pressure kept rising despite regular increases in medication. The blood test results kept worsening. I knew that it was time for me to take this illness seriously. My Essential Hypertension was now superimposed with Pre-Eclampsia.

An Ultrasound revealed that my baby was smaller than it should have been and the placental function was not ideal. I was given steroid injections to help mature the baby's lungs and I began discussing premature delivery with my doctors, family and friends.

At thirty weeks, still in hospital, I was feeling fine. A daily urinalysis showed three pluses of protein, a big increase from my usual one plus. I was examined thoroughly by my doctor and everything was unchanged. I commenced yet another twenty-four hour urine collection to test for total protein. I was not able to complete this collection.

About one hour after my doctor had seen me, I began to feel unwell. I immediately blamed the hospital meal that I had just eaten! I was feeling worse by the minute and began vomiting. I developed excruciating pain in the epigastric region and I then knew that the hospital meal had nothing to do with how I was feeling. I used my call bell for the first time and the Midwife found me on the bathroom floor slumped over the toilet, vomiting. The next few hours, in fact, the next few days, are a blur. The one thing I remember clearly is the intensity of the epigastric pain. My liver was bleeding, my kidneys failing, my blood pressure rising extremely high and I was very restless and hyper reflexic.

Numerous drips were connected and I was given drugs to bring down the blood pressure and prevent me from fitting. I was also monitored witha cardiac monitor and my baby monitored with a C.T.G.. I was then prepared for the Operating Theatre and transferred there to have a Caesarean Section. During all this commotion my husband and family had been called in and had arrived. What a shock for them to see me this way.

I was soon the proud mother of a 1280g baby boy. I was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit from Theatre and spent the next three days there. My son, Alexander, was transferred to another hospital as he needed to be on a ventilator. We were both monitored intensely in our separate hospitals. My family were able to visit him, but all I had were some photographs that they had taken.

When I was moved from the Intensive Care Unit to the ward, I pleaded to go and see Alexander. I was permitted to go for a short visit if my blood test results for platelets had improved. The wait for the results was agony but the second I got the good result, 1 was out the door. I spent about thirty minutes with Alexander and cried all that time, blaming myself for his condition. The rest of my time in hospital consisted of visiting Alexander, using the breast pump, taking medication, and having my blood pressure and many more blood tests taken. I recovered quickly and left hospital a week after Alexander's birth. Alexander came home forty-six days old, fully breast feeding, and weighing 2150g.

Six weeks post delivery my liver and kidneys function had returned to normal, but to this day I remain on medication to control my blood pressure. Alexander is now a very healthy, happy, and mischievous pre-schooler.

In considering a future pregnancy, I often reflect on my experience and marvel at the strength that my husband and mother showed through such a traumatic time. I will definitely need their strength and support again if there is another pregnancy.

Postscript:

When Alexander was two and a half, my husband and I sought some pre-conception advice. We were given a twenty five percent chance of developing Pre-Eclampsia in a subsequent pregnancy. After plenty of discussion and thought, we decided to try again.

It took about five months for my blood pressure to be controlled and stabilised on a new medication. I then fell pregnant and a very busy and stressful time began.

With very frequent visits to my doctors, regular blood tests to check kidney and liver function, several ultrasounds to check baby's growth, and low dose Aspirin from ten weeks, I managed to reach thirty eight and a half weeks gestation. I had a very normal pregnancy!

I had an elective Caesarean Section of a beautiful baby boy. He weighed 3 lOOg and we named him Lachlan. I recovered quickly and left hospital four days later to begin my new experience of mothering a healthy, term baby!

The experience was well worth the stress and worry. I am extremely proud to have had a normal pregnancy. We now have to decide if this completes our family!