Pre-Eclampsia Stories - LILLY & PAUL PETTENUZZO'S STORY

I was 5 months pregnant and I felt great. The feeling that there was a little person growing inside of me was wonderful and I couldn't wait until I was big and fat and to feel all this movement inside of me.

I had just finished work and was looking forward to having 3 months at home, relaxing and getting the nursery ready for our baby. Well we learnt that things just don't happen the way they are planned.

I had started off with swollen feet and I was feeling a bit off colour but didn't take too much notice of it. I visited the doctor on Tuesday afternoon. He said my blood pressure was fine and I had a bit of a urine infection and asked me to come back in the morning. He mentioned Pre-eclampsia but told me not to worry "in fifteen years I have had three cases of Pre-eclampsia".

The next morning at 9am by blood pressure was high and I was starting to show signs of protein in my urine. He told me to go home pack a bag and go to hospital. Fine no problems I would have a little rest and everything would be fine. Luckily my mother was visiting and she was trying to keep me calm, so off we went. I drove myself to the hospital not really knowing what was ahead for me and for all of us. By the time we got to hospital everybody was going crazy, nurses and doctors everywhere. I was getting frightened. I needed my husband. By this stage things were getting worse and the blood pressure was going up and down. It was decided to transfer me by ambulance to a bigger hospital. My husband arrived just in time to see me wheeled off to the ambulance and to follow us to the hospital.

We arrived about lunch time. Much of everything is quite blurry for me. I was given medication to try and bring the blood pressure down, steroid injections for the baby and I am sure a lot of other things which I don't really know much about.

To be honest I really don't remember much about what was happening around me, only that my blood pressure couldn't be controlled and I think I must have been in real trouble. I thought I was going to loose the baby and I remember telling my husband we would try and have another baby as soon as possible, obviously still quite naive about everything.

By about 6pm that night we were told I would have to have our baby that night, my blood pressure was out of control and the hospitals first priority would have to be me. They went on to explain what could happen if the baby was not delivered soon. Our daughter was given a 60% chance of survival.

8.40pm Wednesday night (the 20th April 1994) our little daughter was born by emergency caesarean weighing in at 650 gms, 3 months premature. This period of about 10 hours in hospital was the most frightening experience of my life. It was the not knowing of what was going on and what was going to happen. I was frightened for my unborn child but I was scared that I was going to die. To this day, 2 years later, it is still clear in my mind like it was only yesterday.

Fortunately I made a quick recovery and my blood pressure went back to normal after about 3 weeks. I got to see my little girl on the Friday two days after she was born and to be honest I was in shock for a few weeks. I was really not prepared for something like this to happen. My little girl was so tiny but so perfect. I went home from hospital one week later and felt a real sense of emptiness.

For 3 months I travelled to the hospital where slowly Laura put on weight (every gram was a bonus and so was every extra day) and apart from infections and having to come home on oxygen she came home to us on day 100, two days before her due date of birth 29th July 1994.

Our story has a happy ending. Our little girl came home 3 months after her stormy arrival. She had her own battle to fight and she survived. Our daughter is 2 years of age now, and has mild cerebral palsy, but she is walking and talking and we are so lucky to have her in our lives, and so very proud of her.

I have a very wonderful, supportive husband, without him I would not have made it through this traumatic experience. He was there for me and my daughter every minute and we love him a lot for that.

We still question why this happened to us and it's the not knowing of why that sort of eats at you. If there was something that I had done we could make sure that it didn't happen again to prevent Pre-eclampsia. I would love another child, physically I am ready but it is going to be a long time before mentally I am prepared to take the risk and have another child.