One year ago today, I was on day two of a three day hospitalization for “brewing preeclampsia” and possible HELLP syndrome. I was 25 weeks pregnant. According to several very detailed ultrasounds, LMM weighed about 15 ounces. I received my first round of steroid shots, to speed her lung development in case they had to deliver her that day.
One year ago yesterday started off pretty normally. I had done a round of bloodwork to check my thyroid levels again and to see if there was anything going on with some swelling, headaches, and slightly higher (for me) blood pressure readings of around 120/80 (normally was around 105/70). Around 2 pm, I got a call at work from my OB office. I snuck off to the hall to listen to the message, knowing it was probably the results of my bloodwork. When I heard my doctor’s voice on the message, I started swearing. My doctor never personally called me. Her nurse practitioner had always called. “Please give me a call about your blood test results.” I went back to my desk, since I was the only one there that day, and didn’t want the department to be unmanned. I called the office and got the nurse practitioner. She put me on hold while she grabbed my file and then came back on the line. “Ok, Mrs Minion, the doctor wants you to head to the hospital. Your bloodwork came back with some abnormal levels. You’ll come in the main entrance and then to the maternity welcome center. We’ve sent your file over already, so they will be waiting for you.”
In shock, I went to my boss and told him that my doctor told me to go to the hospital. I grabbed my stuff and headed to the parking garage. I called Mr Minion as I walked, telling him that I was headed to the hospital. I made it to the maternity center and told them I was here. About five minutes later, Mr Minion walked in the door. The drive should have taken him about fifteen more minutes.
Over the course of my hospital stay, I learned that my platelet levels, the part of your blood that makes clotting possible, were very low. My kidney levels and Uric acid levels were wrong too. My hemoglobin levels were also wrong. I had basically everything that makes up HELLP without the severity. My new high risk team also thought that I would probably end up with preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure and organ stress. They didn’t know if I would ever get officially diagnosed with it, since you have to meet several diagnostic criteria and I wasn’t technically meeting any of them. They didn’t know when it would happen, if it ever did. The hope was to get LMM and I to 37 weeks, the minimum threshold for full term. I would have weekly blood draws, weekly protein tests, and a high risk maternal fetal medicine team. I was under orders to take it easy, and I was able to keep working only because I have a desk job.
I had no idea that my daughter would be born exactly three weeks after I was discharged. I had no idea that the following 84 days would be spent in a small room in the nicu, watching her learn to breathe, eat, struggle through infection, sepsis, meningitis, and hydrocephalus, watching her be wheeled away for brain surgery. I had no idea I would have to wait an entire day to hold my child, that I would have to wait for permission to hold her again. I didn’t know how enraged I would be to hear a pregnant woman bemoan her aching back and wish for an early baby. I had no idea of the level of jealousy I would feel with other people and their textbook pregnancies.
I had no idea that I would be hooked up to an IV of magnesium, a substance that would keep me from having seizures due to sky high blood pressure, telling the nurses and the doctors that I would be fine, that we needed to wait because LMM wasn’t ready. I didn’t know that I would be waking up every three hours around the clock to pump instead of breastfeed. I didn’t know she would have four brain surgeries before the age of six months. I didnt know that any sound of beeping would trigger an adrenaline rush to get to my daughter’s side and stop the apnea or bradycardia episode in progress.
Without darkness, there can be no light.