May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Our guest post today is a personal story from Meredith Drews of the Preeclampsia Foundation.
I am the mother of four—but I only get to kiss two of my children goodnight. I have two boys, Thomas and Henry, and two daughters, Bridget and Elsie. Thomas is five, plays t-ball, gymnastics and thinks Justin Beiber is cool. Henry is two, adores his big brother, loves Mickey Mouse and is talking like crazy. Bridget and Elsie died an hour after they were both born. They should be three years old.
It was my second pregnancy and we were shocked with spontaneous twins. Once the surprise wore off, we adjusted to the idea and to the never-ending question: “Do twins run in your family?”
My twenty week ultrasound came and went… in this time we’d learned the twins were both girls; we’d just picked out names, the excitement was building, the reality settling in. Two weeks or so after my “grand” ultrasound I went back to my OB for a check-up. We did growth checks at each appointment and the girls’ heads had grown in two weeks, but not their stomachs. My doctor was concerned and sent me home on bedrest for two weeks. I never made it that far.
A little more than a week later I called my doctor at 5 am in the morning. I asked to come in and she said absolutely. I wasn’t swelling. I thought maybe I had “floaters” in my eyes. My urine was dark. I had bruising on my legs. I’d had a nose bleed a few days earlier that I had trouble stopping. There was no pain under my right ribcage, but I had had a pain in my right shoulder for nearly a week.
I knew preeclampsia could be a concern because of the visual disturbances. My blood pressure was higher. I was spilling protein in my urine. My doctor sent me to the hospital, where things went from bad to horrific. I was told I would be in the hospital at least a week. Then my doctor and MFM delivered the bad news: I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome (which I had NEVER heard of). I needed to deliver right away. If we chose to deliver cesarean, it would give the girls the best shot, but be very risky to me (with low platelets I could bleed to death), or, I could deliver vaginally and not attempt to save my daughters.
I had to call my husband over the phone with this news and we agreed the best thing to do would be to deliver vaginally, not risk all three of us and leave behind our son without his mother. Every kick I felt inside me was gut-wrenching, knowing these little babies I’d tried so hard to keep safe were dying. Unable to have an epidural, I felt every push of labor, heard all the crying in the room from doctors and nurses and my husband. We heard a deafening silence from our baby girls.
We held our daughters in our arms as they died.
I couldn’t believe this had happened to me. I still can’t. I recovered in the hospital another five days and went home to my computer, searching for information and found the Preeclampsia Foundation. I found information and support which helped me stay informed through my third pregnancy, just three months after we lost our girls. In time, I have found a place and means to give meaning to my daughters’ one hour of life through the volunteer work I do.
I will never understand why this had to happen, but I someday hope to know what happened to cause my body to betray me like that. I want to know how it happened and how others can prevent it. Really… I want my baby girls back… but I’m very blessed to have my own health and my sweet, perfect two little boys—both born completely preeclampsia-free.
You can join us for a live chat about preeclampsia on May 11th at 2 PM EST. You’ll find us, and our guests from the Preeclampsia Foundation, on Twitter at #pregnancychat.