How my baby and I survived preeclampsia

For Preeclampsia Awareness Month, we are grateful to one mom for sharing her story with us.

In my fight against preeclampsia, I advocated for myself and my baby and ended up saving both of our lives.

It started at about 22 weeks of pregnancy, when I had trouble with my eyes. I started to step down onto an escalator and realized I couldn’t see where one step stopped and the next started. My doctor reassured me that eye changes were normal.

By 24 weeks, more symptoms popped up. I was very itchy, my ankles were swollen and I had trouble breathing when reclining. The nurse told me that was normal.

By 25 weeks, the symptoms increased. I never had the urge to urinate and when I did, it was orangish brown. My ankles were so swollen that I had to lift up the skin to slide on a pair of shoes that were two sizes too big.

I called the doctor’s office and was told that my appointment was in 9 days and they would see me then. I decided to check my blood pressure on my own so I drove to a local supermarket and checked my blood pressure at the pharmacy. It was 180/120. I was shocked! I took it again and got the same results.

Feeling concerned, I drove to the doctor’s office. Within an hour, I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia (my protein came back at +5) and I was on my way to the hospital for bedrest. I had a seizure within the hour of being admitted in the hospital when my blood pressure reached 240/180.

Two days later, after my 24 hour urine test came back at +19 and I was showing signs of HELLP Syndrome, I was put on mag sulfate and transferred to a new hospital with a high risk OB and an OB-ICU. More importantly, it was located next door to a hospital with a Level 4 NICU.

Preemie baby due to preeclampsiaUnfortunately, my condition worsened that night and by the next evening I was in liver and kidney failure. An emergency C-section was ordered and my daughter was born a few hours later at just 25 weeks and 5 days. She weighed 1lb, 10 oz and was 13” long.

She went on to spend 90 days in the NICU. She had a PDA ligation, a feeding tube and was vented for a month. She came home on oxygen and with the feeding tube but both were removed within a month of coming home. She is now 14 years old, an 8th grade honors student and a competitive gymnast. She is also an only child.

As for me, I spent another 3 weeks on blood pressure medicine. Ten years later, I was diagnosed with diabetes and required 3 stents in my heart. It was also found that my heart had sustained damage during my pregnancy and was severely underperforming. I went through cardiac rehab and will have to be followed by a cardiologist for the rest of my life. Research shows that women who develop preeclampsia have a much greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

If I have one message to share with all pregnant women, it would be to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel right – go get checked. In my case, it saved both my life and my child’s.

Are you a preeclampsia survivor? We hope you’ll share your story below, to help other moms and babies.

Learn more about the life-long effects of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.

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28 Responses to “How my baby and I survived preeclampsia”

  1. Melissa Says:

    I had the exact thing happen to me ❤ my daughter is now 8 and amazing!!! Perfect in every way… I’m glad your Ok

  2. rose Berastain Says:

    Thank you for your heart felt story.
    The NICU are heroes and I love them. They saved my babies life and
    because of the special love and treatment she received, she is a beautiful super healthy 15 yr old girl. She is taller than me :),and she is my surviving twin. God is good. I am so happy to hear your story and that you knew there was something just not right. You saved your life and your child’s. My child is also my one and only.<3
    Cheers to all of the above 🙂

  3. Ana Says:

    At 27 weeks, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. On March 6, 2007, I woke up with blurred vision and swollen body. My husband rushed me to the hospital around 9:00 am, by the time I was admitted, my daughter wasn’t moving, they transferred me to a woman and babies hospital and that same day had an emergency c-section. My miracle baby weighed 2 lbs. and 2 oz. and was in the NICU for almost 2 months. Today she is 9 years old and thank God with no health issues!

  4. ana Says:

    Yes I am a preclampsia surviver 2 times 8 yrs ago had a stillborn due to the preeclampsia. Doctors told me it was preclampsia not sure what it was, but during the pregnancy had really bad headache and blood pressure high not sure what was the risk end up having a stillborn baby boy. Last year surprise I was pregned again and this time I new that it might happen again so I was more careful about how I feel and checking my blood pressure daily going to my regular Ob Doctor and she referred me to an especialist high risk pregnancy,at 27 weeks I went to the doctor for a check up I was concerned about my legs swelling she checked my urine told me that I have preclampsia; not sure how bad, doctor send me to hospital to do 24 hour urine collection 2 days later I end up having a emergency c section. My baby was 1lb 13oz . He was in the NICU for 3 months and 2 weeks he is doing good. I’m very blessed and thankful.

  5. Loryn Johnson Says:

    At 28 weeks I had very swollen feet/ankles and was told “that’s being pregnant in the summer” by the advice nurse- lucky for me and my child I had an appointment 2 days later and due to a protein in the urine test and blood pressure check I was sent right to the hospital and quickly diagnosed with preeclampsia. I had been healthy, and not had high blood pressure prior to this.

    After being checked in I was moved back and forth between labor & delivery and the maternity ward several times for a week – and put on magnesium sulfate (I believe to prevent seizures) that made me feel like I was in a coma. That weekend I was told the preeclampsia was affecting my liver and I had a c-section. My daughter was 2 pounds 9 oz and 11 weeks premature. She spent 2 months in the NICU then came home – she had GERD but thankfully no other major issues. I spent anther week in the hospital and my blood pressure did not lower (as they claimed it would post delivery) until I was sent home. I have been on blood pressure medicine ever since.

    My daughter will be 14 this month, is an honor student and the light of my life. If you think something is wrong- get to the doctor- always trust your instincts- it can save your life and your child’s – doctors and nurses are not always right.

  6. Angie Says:

    Was wondering how old you were at the time you gave birth? What studies are you referring to regarding heart disease after pre-eclampsia? I am also an Eclampsia survivor with H.E.L.L.P Syndrome, Placental abruption. My daughter is now 10 perfectly healthy, beautiful and very intelligent. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Annell Lough Says:

    Preclampsia× HELLP survivor in two pregnancies. My first son was born after being induced at 34weeks and my second one was delivered by emergency c-section at 29 weeks. Both are strong healthy boys today!! In both pregnancies I felt like my concerns were brushed off by Healthcare providers. My first pregnancy I was young (19yo) and felt like providers assumed I was overreacting due to the fear of my first pregnancy and maybe immaturity. My second pregnancy at 32yo I often got the impression that providers thought I was overreacting due to fear of having another traumatic pregnancy/birth. I don’t believe that either Healthcare provider could have prevented the pre-eclampsia or the progression into HELLP, however they could have taken me seriously when I expressed concerns, validated my fears, and offered more support.

  8. Kristen Says:

    I had 2 preeclamptic pregnancies. One with abruption at 34 weeks and another emergency c section at 32 weeks. Both girls are now healthy 9 and 6 year olds. I’m now pregnant with number 3…a surprise. And have come across an amazing resource for preeclamptic women. Reproductive Immunology says that preeclampsia is a symptom of Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome…a clotting disorder, as well as an abundance of NK (natural killer) autoimmune cells. I’m on an aggressive protocol and have faith it will help! Please seek help with a reproductive immunologist if you have a history of preeclampsia! Miracles are happening through research!

  9. Tammy Stepanovich Says:

    My nameis Tammy and I had preeclampsia and my daughter was born at 26 weeks. She weighed 2lbs 1 ounce. I had to have my gaul bladder taken out August 13th 2015 and after surgery my blood pressure went up and it wouldn’t go down. They determined that I had preeclampsia and on August 18th 2015 they did an emergency c section and my daughter was born. She spent three months in the NICU and had a long journey ahead of her. I spent a month in the hospital after she was born. She had surgery to fix a hurnia in her female organs while she was in the hospital and she also got an infection call nec. She is now 9 months old and is thriving everyday. She still has a way to go but she looks good so far. I am pregnant again right now and they are monitoring me closely with this onr to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I just hope that my story helps someone else.

  10. Barbara Says:

    In honor of preeclampsia awareness month, my story. My second pregnancy: at 29 weeks, I went to the doctor for a regular check up, and shared my concerns that my fingers were so swollen, I had to remove my rings because of the inability to remove them at night. She checked my urine and my protein was at +12. With extreme itching everywhere, but no blood pressure issues, she sent me home on complete bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. That night, I became very hot and tried to get up to turn the fan on and I couldn’t see. I called for my husband, and when he came into our bedroom, I began having my first seizure. The second and third seizures came in the ER, all the while being treated with magnesium and trying to give the baby steroids to prevent permanent deficits of a baby at 29 weeks. The next day, my blood pressure was too high and the choice was made to deliver the baby. Samuel was born at 2 pounds, about 10 weeks early. My blood pressure was so high, I wasn’t allowed to even see my baby until day 4 of him being in this world. Even then, I was on blood pressure medicine for 6 months and he stayed in the NICU for 5 weeks. He’s a healthy 20 pounder now, and we’re all better. But, for my mom friends, future mom friends, and soon to be mom friends, please be aware of your symptoms because my eclampsia almost got the best of my son and I!

  11. Maria Says:

    Wow that is almost my story to a T. I am now having issues that make me wonder – after reading this article I will be calling the doctor for a check up.

  12. Carmen Says:

    I was planning on having a normal pregnancy which it was until I got to 37 weeks. I went and saw my ob for my weekly check up they told me that everything was fine . My blood pressure was at a normal rate but for me it was high . I was nervous because this was my first pregnancy so I left the office with very little comfort. Three days later i was in the hospital with preclampcia. I lost my son that day and it almost took me. Please don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to listen to you because you know your body. It may just save your life

  13. Alex Says:

    I had pre-eclampsia with my first child and IUGR. When I became pregnant with my 1st child, I had chronic mild high blood pressure well controlled with medication and a healthy diet. My OB at that time was not too concerned with my blood pressure because it had been ok so far. Then at 26 weeks, another OB in the practice measured me and said the baby was not growing enough. I was sent for an ultrasound where they discovered that the baby was not getting enough blood because there was not enough blood flow going to the baby through the placenta. I was admitted and put on bed rest. My bp was on the higher side of normal about 140/90. I stayed in the hospital for a few days until 26 weeks 6 days when I was told that the baby would do better if he was outside. My bp started getting higher that day. I was really scared. By the time they were taking me to the c-section, my bp was 200/100. My baby was born weighing 1 lb 5 oz and has had a long medical journey including coming home on a vent, trach and g-tube. It has not been easy and my son is now 6 y/o and much better medically but he is diagnosed with autism so we still have much work to do. I had 2 healthy pregnancies after the first one. I went to a high-risk practice, took a low dose of bp medication, supplemented with vitamin D (my levels were very low which increases the risk for pre-eclampsia), monitored my blood pressure every day, and monitored sodium in my diet. And although I was nervous throughout both pregnancies, I had 2 healthy babies without pre-eclampsia. I think getting monitored at a high-risk ob/gyn is key. That way you can monitor blood pressure, diet and both you and the baby will be well taken care off. And every time you feel that something is off, communicate with your doctor. I wish everyone the best.

  14. Cassidy Says:

    I was 29wks pregnant had severely swollen everything…I woukd become severely hot and get really bad headaches, took my blood pressure and it was 108/110 called my doctor and requested an appointment. I was 23 and knew nothing about pre-e so I drove myself 1 hr to my dr and when I got there my bp was 120/116 they immediately admitted me and I was on bed rest receiving magnesium and steroids to speed up formation of his lungs and vital organs, I delivered 3 days later and he was in NICU for 3 months. He had hydronephrosis and eventually had nephrosomy tubes placed. He was born 5-30-14 unfortunately he passed away of SIDS 10-4-14

  15. Allison Anderson Says:

    My son was born at 30 weeks weighing 1lb 14 oz due to me developing HELLP Syndrome…I was keep on bed rest for 2 days on the second day he was delivered via c-section….He spent 43 days in the NICU…. My son is now a happy healthy 9 month old..

  16. Allison Anderson Says:

    My son was born at 30 weeks weighing 1lb 14 oz due to me developing HELLP Syndrome…I was kept on bed rest for 2 days on the second day he was delivered via c-section….He spent 43 days in the NICU…. My son is now a happy healthy 9 month old..

  17. Elizabeth Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and I will continue to share as well. I too had severe preeclampsia with the high blood pressure, swelling of hands,feet, and face. At 25 weeks I called being very concerned and I was told it was normal and that I needed to be more active. Despite how I was feeling I trusted a doctor who specialized in this and being my first pregnancy I felt it was my fault…but I trusted my instincts and thought to myself “how could I be any more active when I felt like I had the flu with nausea and vomiting, and I was so swollen but no one would take me seriously despite my concerns. My mother a retired RN lived an hour away at the time asked me to purchase a “dip stick” to see how much protein was in my urine and it was very high!! I called my doctor in the middle of the night scared that something was really wrong he saw me the next morning and put me on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. The next day drinking water was giving be severe indigestion and vomiting. My sister trusted her instincts as well being a survivor of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome rushed me to the ER and I had developed HELLP syndrome as well. I was almost in another world not knowing my surroundings. I had terrible vision by this time and severe nosebleeds but all I was concerned about was ” My Baby”!! I was given magnesium and had liver failure. The doctor came and talked with my husband and said we had no choice but to deliver the baby. The morning he was 27 weeks I had an emergency c-section and my sweet baby was placed on life support weighing only 2 pounds. Wanting to hold him and be with him was not an option for me, I was to weak and sick. My determination did not keep me from staying by his side when I could. He had a PDA that did close but otherwise we were told he needed the ventilator to breath. On the sixth day me and my husbands world feel apart, “Jacob” passed away suddenly and they suspected a brain bleed. To this day I will never know why,but I want to tell others to trust your instincts!!! If you have a family history of high risk pregnancies or you feel something isn’t right go and see a high risk OB before hand or if you feel your not getting the care you need see a Perinatologist (a high risk OB). Hopefully one day they will find a cause and a way to stop preeclampsia. “God bless all of you and your sweet children”who have shared your stories and may we find a cure someday!

  18. Rebecca Escudero Says:

    Hello, I too was diagnosed with pre eclampsia when I was pregnant with my daughter; I was 18 and really didn’t know what the meant 3 weeks before my due date I got really swollen and didn’t feel good and just knew something was wrong so my boyfriend took me to the hospital and I was admitted. A few minutes after I had my daughter while I was holding her I went blind and shouted that I could not see anything so the nurses took the baby and a few seconds later I had a seizure and was in a coma for a week thankfully the Lord spared my life. My daughter is now 15 beautiful, smart, and such a blessing. I would like to add 8 years after I had my daughter I got pregnant with my son and that delivery went very well and I did not have pre eclampsia with him.

  19. Barbara Says:

    I had preeclampsia with my first pregnancy. I was in and out of the hospital on partial then full bed rest when finally I got a bloody nose. It just would not stop. I was told to go to labor and del and drove myself. I was lucky I didn’t pass out and kill myself or someone else. My blood pressure was at strock levels and my son was in danger. I had an emergency c-section. I still suffer high blood pressue and have had 2 other pregnancies.

  20. kimberly kilmer Says:

    My 3 children and I are Pre-eclampsia survivors. 23 years ago, at 33 weeks, my doctor approved me to fly out of state for a funeral. She gave me my medical records “just in case”. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I was very swollen and my blood pressure was up a bit, but being my first pregnancy, I thought it must be normal. I had a terrible headache the entire time I was there, and just didn’t feel right. A week later, the day I was due to fly home, I started having seizures. An emergency C-section was performed and I went to the ICU. I don’t remember anything about that weekend and when they showed me a picture of my little 3lb 11oz baby girl, I was confused, I thought I was still pregnant. Almost 4 years later, 28 weeks pregnant with twins, I recognized the symptoms and got to the hospital. This time, my liver started to shut down, so another emergency C-section was performed and our little miracles 1 lb 10 oz and 1 lb 15 oz boys were born. One spent 2 1/2 months in the NICU and his twin was there just short of 8 months. We have been blessed with our 3 precious preemies.

  21. Cassie Says:

    I’ve had pre-eclampsia in 2 pregnancies. The first I was diagnosed around 36 weeks and got put on bedrest, delivered naturally at 37 weeks to a healthy 5lb 14oz boy who is now 8. My second pregnancy was with twins! I was monitored very closely as my BP never fully recovered from the first pregnancy. At 28 weeks I was put on hospital bedrest with a BP of 180/110 and was given magnesium. I wasn’t on hospital bedrest long as my liver was doing fine, but my blood cell count was low and my kidneys were starting to fail. I started having contractions which they got them to stop but then by the next day as soon as they would give me my BP meds my blood pressure would drop but my heart rate would go up to the 160’s resting. The doctor told me that if it happened again they would be taking my babies as my children needed a mother. That was the one moment when I truly knew how serious this all could be. Sure enough it happened the following morning and the twins were delivered via c-section at 29 weeks. They were born at 2lb 5oz and 1lb 10oz with an over 3 month hospital stay. They are 5 now and thriving, starting kindergarten in the fall. I’ve been told I’m not recommended to have anymore children and I take several BP meds to this day still as its really hard to control. I am thankful every day for my 3 little blessings and especially the twins, if I was only pregnant with 1 the second time around I would only end up with 2 children but I was blessed and now have 3 healthy children!

  22. Marissa Says:

    I’m glad you & your baby were ok. I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia at 26weeks and then on the 5th day they said they had to take the baby out via c-section. She was in the hospital for 123 days. She has a PDA, eye surgery done, vented for almost 2 months and a feeding tube. We almost lost her once. She is now 14months but really almost 12month! She’s doing wonderful and we just love her to pieces. We had our very last doctors appointment for everything and she’s doing awesome. She passed her hearing, and her eyes are looking good. The developemental lady that follows her says she’s almost on track with her age! 🙂

  23. GABBY Says:

    I was on my 31st week when I went to a regular check up, I had planned to go to buy candy for my daughters birthday after that but it didn’t happened, my feet were swollen but nurse told me it was normal, they checked my blood pressure and it was 162/120, the doctor came to see me and sent me to the hospital I was feeling ok but she said to go to be monitored for 24 hours, my husband met me there and I assure him I was fine and send him home to care for our children 20 mi uses after he left they came and told me protein in urine was high and my kidneys were failing, that I needed to deliver. My baby was born weighting only 3 lbs 3 oz, and stay in the NICU for 2 months, it was the longest 2 months of my whole life but thankfully he is now a 3yr old warrior he has never had big health issues. I am glad that although it escalated really quick they were able to save us both. My advice is do not feel guilty this can happen to anyone.

  24. Kelli Says:

    At 31 weeks, I looked in the mirror and asked one of my coworkers if my face looked puffy to her. She told me that it was just a little water retention and to not worry about it. I had a killer headache that I attributed to a sinus infection. I was later told that I looked like something was wrong at my baby shower a few days later. I had dark urine the morning I went to see the dr at 32 weeks. When I saw the dr, he told me I was going to the hospital for a 24 hour urinalysis. Shortly after I got there, the dr came in and told me that they could handle me where I was, but they had a call in to one of the local university hospitals and if they would take me, I was going there and would not come home without a baby. At that time I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. My daughter was born 2 days later via emergency c-section. She was 3 lbs 8 oz and extremely healthy for the circumstances. She was on the vent for only 8 hours and only spent 2 1/2 weeks in the NICU. She is now a perfectly healthy 9 year old with more spunk than you can imagine.

  25. Laura Price Says:

    My daughter Kendal was born at 31 weeks, 3lbs4oz. The day I had my daughter, I thought I had horrible heartburn. It was making me sick to my stomach and I was not able to hold anything down so the Dr wanted me to go to hospital to make sure I was getting dehydrated . When the nurse took my BP, the look on her face told me there was a problem. My BP was 220/120. After much poking and proding, it was discovered my liver was shutting down and delivery was the only answer. My little beauty was delivered via emergency c-section 2 hours after being admitted. She came into this world a healthy tiny little bundle. 22 days in the NICU and home we went. Today she is a 9 year whiz kid, the tallest and smartest in her class!!

    Even though I had a large portion of my cervix removed due to cancerous tissue, my pregnancy with my second child was smooth sailing. Full term, all natural birth. My pregnancy with my third child is a whole other story. The preclampsia came on early along with diabetes. We were able to manage both, but my son was still born a month early via emergency c-section!

  26. Misty DuPre Says:

    Pregnant with twins, I started developing red spots here and there, thinking nothing of it. Turned out they were broken blood vessels below the skin due to high blood pressure. Feet then swelled up so much I could no longer wear anything other than flip flops. Went to my regular monthly dr. Appt at 29 weeks and had protein in my urine. They took some more tests and sent me to the hospital. The rest is a bit of a blur, but suffice to say the doctors told me I had HELLP syndrome. My beautiful girls were born my emergency c-section the next day. 3 lbs, 3 oz and 2 lbs, 2 oz. They stayed in NICU for 11 weeks. Now star 4th grade students and competitive dancers! Hats off to the amazing staff at LLUMC in Loma Linda CA.

    Life lesson is that we need to spread the word of the warning signs! Had I known what to look for, I probably would have been on bedrest!

    Thanks for this opportunity to share my story and hopefully it will help other moms!

  27. Julie Says:

    Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your kind comments about my story of preeclampsia. I saw someone ask how old I was when I got pregnant. I was 28.
    Big hugs to those of you who have also shared your stories of preeclampsia and HELLP. Many of your stories brought me to tears.
    Maria, I hope that everything is okay with your pregnancy. Knowledge is power!

  28. Sue Says:

    I was 22 weeks pregnant, working as an RN 12 hour shifts at a busy hospital. I was getting much swelling but thought it was just from being on my feet so much at work. I went to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving, I developed atrial fibrillation. ..lasted 4 days..I was on the cardiac unit very scared mostly worried about my baby… then developed very high BP 210/120….protein in urine..the headache was so bad…I had an emergency c-section as my baby had serious decelerations. He was 4 lbs at 38 weeks. Dr said she wished she had done a c section a month earlier…she said the placenta was the smallest she had ever seen…over 50% of it was ischemic! I developed HELLP, my liver enzymes were high for 4 months. I have subsequently had heart arrhythmias. My son and I were very lucky to survive.