Pre-Eclampsia Stories

Tania Phillips

I'm not sure how many tears I've lost to Joshua, I've lost count. Tears of joy finding out I was pregnant, tears of worry about what kind of mother I was going to be, tears when the baby first kicked and when I received the first baby jumpsuit. Then things went terribly wrong. This story is about the emotions involved in having a premature baby.

I was 27 weeks and 4 days. I hadn't felt Josh move in around 24 hours. Maybe a few little kicks here and there, but my intuition told me things weren't right. I was very busy at work, after about an hour, I told my work mate Jodie that I hadn't felt the baby move. She made me ring my doctor, and he told me to come straight to the hospital

On arrival the nurse checked the baby's heartbeat and everything was fine. As we were about to leave, my husband Mark said to the nurse "Shouldn't you check her blood pressure?" "Oh, of course" said the nurse. She checked my blood pressure and didn't say anything. Then she asked me to provide a urine sample. She looked me straight in the eye and told me I had pre-eclampsia and I might have my baby today. I looked at her in shock. My first thought was "I can't, I haven't done the nursery yet".

They took me up to the ward where I waited for my physician. By the time Mark came back I was in intensive care. Although I knew then something was wrong, I still thought my baby was going to be okay. As I was being wheeled into theatre, my mother kissed my stomach - I knew she was saying good bye to my baby. I wanted everything to slow down.

I had an epidural and didn't feel a thing. I started to panic; I could feel the medical team poking and prodding. I looked up and could see my stomach in the reflection of the surgery lights, I saw my insides. I felt sick. Mark and I talked and decided we didn't want the baby to suffer, didn't want him hooked up to machines. I wanted him to go to heaven without suffering. I thought that would be the best present I could give him. The only motherly decision I would ever make for him.

I had a classical c-section which was a little more complicated - they cut me both ways to try and get him out. He was breach, they incubated him straight away. Mark lifted my head and they showed me his foot. It was the size of the top of my thumb. I felt nothing when they showed me. No motherly instincts, just the sheer terror of not being in control of what was going on.

I didn't recuperate very well and stayed in intensive care for a few more days. Mark and my mum wanted me to see the baby. I didn't. I was happy to stay where I was but after several days they insisted, and wheeled me into intensive care Room 3. I looked around and felt stupid that I didn't know which baby was mine. They pointed to Joshua's incubator. I looked at him for a while but I couldn't believe he was mine. He can't be mine. I wanted to get out of there. I didn't want to be a mother anymore. Maybe we should adopt him out, give him to someone more deserving, someone that really wanted him. Everything was just too much, I wanted to go home. I was sick of thinking, I was sick of the needles, I was sick of feeling sick.

Eventually, I was moved to the maternity ward where all the happy families were The social worker told me I would be devastated to leave for home without my baby. But in fact, when the time came, I felt nothing. I felt like a horrible mother. I was happy to be going home

My girlfriend Jacquee was there when I had my first Kangaroo Cuddle. I panicked so much. They tucked him into my chest; tubes everywhere, machines beeping. It wasn't exactly what I imagined my first hold would be like. Everyone was staring at me. I felt guilty I wasn't crying for joy. I was happy to be holding him, but I would have been happy holding any one of the babies in that room.

I got into a routine with Josh. I would express every morning into a machine for 30 minutes, closing my eyes and trying to feel maternal so that my milk would let down. Days turned into weeks.

One morning I was changing Joshua's nappy and he let out his first cry. I absolutely panicked. He sounded like a kitten. I looked around for a nurse but they were busy with the other babies. I put my hands through the incubator and stroked his head to calm him and he stopped. Tears rolled down my face, I knew then that I was his mother. I knew then that I was supposed to have him. I knew then that he was mine. I told him I loved him for the first time and I promised him I'd get him out of that hospital as soon as I could. Then for the first time I had an overwhelming feeling that I might lose him. I loved him, but I might lose him. I felt like a mother for the first time.

It was horrific watching Joshua struggle to take each breath, watching his tiny chest pant in and out, watching the milk being poured down his nasal gastro tubes, his tiny little face underneath the tangle of the ventilator/CPAP equipment. Weeks turned into months and Joshua slowly got bigger and fatter. He had a few little set backs. We were told he had a grade 2 bleed to the brain which causes cerebral palsy and other difficulties but he had his second scan before he left hospital and it had disappeared.

He only had one set back when he was around 10 weeks old. He was off the machines and in an open cot when he stopped breathing one night and had to be bagged (CPR) for eight minutes. He had just been taken off a stimulant that helped his brain to remember to breathe, so that may have been the cause. He had a hernia operation three days before being discharged. His eyes and ears were/are okay. He came home after 94 days. I hardly slept for the first 12 months. I would just stare into his cot late at night and watch him breath and make sure he was okay.

He is now three years old and very much a little boy. He bum-shuffled for 10 months and walked when he was 22 months. People ask me "When are you going to have another baby". I always hesitate. It's not an easy answer. Am I willing to do this all over again - to my family, to my husband who nearly lost us both, to a new little baby who might be hooked up to machines again? Is it worth it? My heart says it is.

Postscript

As I write this added paragraph I am holding my beautiful girl Gemma who is 3 months old. I prayed that this time around I would have a happy birthing experience but it wasn't too be. Throughout my pregnancy I had perfect blood pressure and no signs of pre-eclampsia. At 35 weeks I woke from an afternoon sleep with my son and had sharp pains in my lower abdomen. I took two Panadol and expected it to go away. After an hour it was getting worse so I rang my obstetrician and she told us to head up to hospital. After some pain relief I felt much better but when it wore off, the pain came back. My doctor decided that I was going to have the c-section that night as I was 35 weeks, the baby was healthy and she didn't want to take any chances as I had a classical caesarean with Josh. When the time came I got off my maternity bed and walked over to the bed in the hallway that was going to wheel me into theatre and could feel my insides being ripped apart. Everything went blurry, I couldn't see anything and went into shock. It seemed like eternity as they put the epidural in then the pain was gone. It didn't take too long for Gemma to come out. And when she did there was silence. She weighed 5 pound 10. The paediatrician took 5 minutes to resuscitate her and she came around. They were talking about a hysterectomy but luckily they saved everything. The operation took 2 hours. I was awake through everything and two hours seemed like 10. The doctor told me I had a ruptured uterus. That if they waited another 10 minutes our little girl wouldn't of made it and maybe neither would of I. She was in special care for two nights then she roomed in with me. Was it worth it?? I'm so glad we took the chance.