The pain of preeclampsia

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.

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34 Responses to “The pain of preeclampsia”

  1. Jade Burdette Says:

    Your story was very touching & brought back memories. I too had HELLP with my 1st & only pregnancy. Because it was my first pregnancy my doctor ignored my calls and told me I was over reacting. When I went in for my 29 wk checkup my daughter was delivered by c-section at 2 lbs. No one understands the helplessness that comes with HELLP & preeclempsia unless they go through it

  2. Chrissy Says:

    I too had HELLP syndrome with my first daughter. She was born at 28 weeks 2 days. I too came home and went right to the computer to start the research. I have gone on to have another healthy baby girl HELLP free and full term. While I was pregnant with her my MFM dr told me that Pre-E is a placental issue and that he is working with other dr’s over in England on this horrible disease. I walk every year for the March of Dimes and hope that one day they will have a cure for this. Thank you for sharing your story and God Bless.

  3. maria Says:

    Hi

    I totally understand every singel word you’v said, I had preeclampsia my self, my baby boy (who was born In May) got throw it (thank God) and he is now a bautifull boy, although he is still delayed in some skills, I still have tears in my eyes eveytime preeeclampsia is montioned, it was a very hard time for all of us, my hasband my son amd me. I just love to have more babies, but just thinking about it makes me scared.

    any advice?

    thank you

  4. Kelly Thompson Says:

    I too had preeclampsia. My son Jacob was born at 28 weeks. He had stopped growing. I had started delivering him naturally, and I was not progressing, and they decided to do an emergency c-section. Jacob was already in my birth canal, and when they did the c-section, they had to push him back up so they could deliver him, but because he was so tiny, it was very difficult, and he sustained alot of head trauma. Jacob weighed just over 1lb…they listed his weight in grams. He suffered many set backs over 3 days, and we made the choice to sign a DNR order, and he dies in my arms. Jacob would have been 13 years old on April 5th of this year. Jacob now has a brother Jeffrey who just turned 7 on April 17th. I still dont understand what happened either. I miss my boy and think of him everyday. Jacob will always be a part of our family. I hope someday we will be able to find out why this happens, so that no one ever has to bury a child.

  5. Angel Spence Says:

    When I was expecting our first baby (who is now a 3 yr old boy) I swelled towards the end my blood pressure was really high and personally I thought I was preclamptic, I was told I was not until I got pregnant with our second child. They told me I had to do tests to make sure it never carried over and it was all fine according to drs. At my monthly apts my urin was good nothing wrong there, sadly I ran into an issure of 2 abrasions to my placenta and a mass bleed, we went to and from Magee Womans Hospital to monitor growth and to watch my placenta on Sept 1st we took our son with us and had planned on letting his see his baby sister, but little did we know my water had broke and i was already at 2cm dialated… I ended up being admitted to the hospital, they checked my urin and sure enough there was protien found… on Sept 3rd I had the worse case of pains and cramps and my blood pressure was startign to get higher and by 5pm my protiene in the urin was extreamly high… they took me in for a csection and we ended up having a 2 pound baby girl! We are so thankful to this day (shes only 8months old) that we have her home and with small issues! Preclaympsia is the worst thought to me and I honestly wish we had a magic cure for it!

  6. Tara Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I delivered our twins at 29 weeks due to preeclampsia. Your family and your 2 lil angels are in my thoughts and prayers. ♥

  7. sabrina Says:

    I also had preeclampsia with my pregnancy. All of my check ups were fine until 28 weeks. At 28 weeks 4 days I was diagnosed with mild preeclampsia, placed on hospital bed rest and given magnesium sulfate. I was also given 2 steroid shots to help develop Spencers lungs “just in case.” 2 days later and as many sleepless nights, I was woke up in the hospital by several nurses and doctors to tell me to call my husband because there wasno choice but to deliver. I am blessed that Spencer surviiand is now a healthy crazy 2 year old but now I’m scared it will happen again. They were never able to give a reason as to why this happened. I wasn’t able to come straight to the computer and research but I am with a great hospital that has promised to take care of me for my next pregnancy and watch me as closely as possible. I am still scared though.

  8. Jessie Sievert Says:

    I had HELLP syndrome with my daughter. She was 9 weeks early and was only 2lbs 12oz when she was born. My story is a long one with the problems I had with my daughter and things that I found out later could have been checked when I first started having pain that wasn’t check. I could sit here for a while and explain everything but, it might get too long. Anyway my daughter is 3 and health and you would never know how little she was when she was born. I am a big supporter of the March of Dimes and my prayers are with anyone that has to go through something like this. Blessed Be!

  9. janet Says:

    22 years ago I was pregnant with my first child. In my 6th month I contracted Pre-E. All was ok until the 8th month when I started to have major symptoms ie, high blood pressure, major water retention,edema etc. I was hospitalized- a few days later i had to be induced, my son was born c-section a few weeks early. Thank God all was well with him and myself, but I was so completely unaware of this condition. Upon further research I was informed that once you get pre-e you can never get it again. It is something that only happens with your first pregnancy and you wont get this again. I was assured from the medical community.But they were wrong. Research was incomplete and we were mis-informed back in the 80″s.Fast forward 16years later, i became pregnant with my 3rd and last child.I was now much older but not wiser…my Dr. knew of my history and so we proceeded cautiously. Especially that I was approaching 40 at this time. My pregnancy was flawless, in fact it was the best one I had. At my 8th month I developed Pre-e AGAIN! Now i had to immediately be hospitalized and my baby was taken via c-section a few hours later! He was born 1 month premature but thankfully he was healthy! More research has to be done on this scary, deadly condition. I was lucky yes, but I feel for all the others who werent, that could have been me. And for what? We need to find a cure for this horrible condition and also educate people and bring it to the forefront. SO many people have never heard of this. To try and do my part,I do a fundraiser for “Save The Children” every year and sponsor a child monthly. I wish more than anything we can bring awareness and more research to this terrible disease! Thank you for being brave, going on and celebrating life again..God bless you<3

  10. Nichole Says:

    What is HELLP syndrome?

  11. Danyelle Says:

    I was 28 weeks 4 days when we found out I was spilling protein. I didn’t feel different. I was taken by ambulance from my local hospital to Boston. The nurses and doctors kept asking me if I had pain in my upper right side, blurred vision, headache, but I had none of those symptoms. My blood pressure was rising, and fast. They started me on BP meds and anti seizure meds. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and within 48 hours of finding out I had protein in my urine, we found out our baby (we didn’t know what we were having) was also growth restricted. I was to deliver that weekend. At 29 weeks exactly, I delivered a 1 lb 11 oz beautiful baby girl. She came out screaming, announcing herself to the world. We were prepared by the NICU staff as to what to expect for our daughter, the tests they would do, the milestones she’d have to reach, etc. She amazed everyone with her successes. Unexpectedly at 13 days old she passed away. We were devestated. How could this happen? What had I done wrong?

    Severe Pre-eclampsia was my diagnosis. But I never felt anything wrong. They told me had I not had my regular check up that day when the proteins were detected, our baby would have passed away within a few days due to the growth restriction. She was showing signs of distress. I just wish I had known.

    I am still on blood pressure meds, 11 months later. Still have traces of protein in my urine. But with incredible medical care, I am 17 weeks along with my second pregnancy. I know my chances of Pre E are increased as a result, but we’re hoping that it won’t come on so early.

    I wish there was some way I could go back and know that something was wrong. But my husband and I have taken the loss we suffered and have turned it into something good. We set up a non profit charity organization that raises funds and awareness of those tiny babies in the NICU that need extra support, extra care and love to grow strong and go home with their moms and dads.

    I do hope that someday they find a cause and cure for pre-eclampsia. I hope that no other family has to suffer the way ours did.

  12. Jessica Says:

    I had pre-eclampsyia and HELLP syndrome with my first son, who was born at 27 weeks and weighed 1 lb 9 oz. I was put on bedrest at 25 weeks because my blood pressure had spiked and I’d gained quite a bit of weight, but I was not spilling protein in my urine or exhibiting any other symptoms. They delivered him by emergency c-section and he spent 3 months in the NICU. Thankfully, he is a healthy and happy 6 year old today, and I was able to go on and have a healthy, full term baby girl and not have to go through the horror of these diseases again. I support organizations like the March of Dimes that contribute to the research into this disorder since so little is known about it. Thank you for sharing your story and God Bless you and your family.

  13. Mallory Says:

    Dear maria,
    I just wanted to give you some hope. My daughter Madison was born at 2.5 lbs because of preeclampsia. She was in the hospital for almost two months. I had my second daughter 11 months later and a little boy five years later. I know how scary it is to think about going through that again but they have really good tests now to check if you have had it before. I really hope this can help ease your fears.

  14. Lindsay Says:

    Ladies, thank you for sharing your personal stories. We hope SO much that research will find a way to prevent preeclampsia soon.

    Nichole – HELLP syndrome is a dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by liver and blood abnormalities. HELLP stands for hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet (blood cell fragments needed for blood clotting) count. It is a form of severe preeclampsia and it occurs in about 10 percent of pregnancies complicated by severe preeclampsia, or less than 1% of all pregnant women. Women who have had HELLP syndrome usually have less than a 5 percent chance of it occurring again in another pregnancy. They do appear to have an increased risk for other pregnancy complications, however, such as preeclampsia, placental abruption and preterm delivery.

  15. Anghy Says:

    Hi all. I also had preeclampsia. my daughter was born 30 weeks and weighed
    only 2 pounds … everything was very confusing, my skin was very swollen … had the
    high blood pressure I do not have any symptoms … also had a lot of protein in my urine. I interned in the
    hospital and 4 days after doctors decided to perform a cesarean section to save my life and
    my daughter’s … she already has 1 year and is a very healthy and happy baby! God
    gave us a second chance, I will not miss.

  16. Stephanie Says:

    I had HELLP syndrome with my first, she is now 10 years old. I had high BP and started to spill protein around week 28. With swollen tree trunk legs I still taught my 8th grade classroom. At week 30 the Dr.s had me call in with my BP numbers. Still, I had no idea what HELLP was, nor was it mentioned to me. For all I knew I had a little preclampsia. At week 32 I began to fall apart with the back rib pain (i thought it was gas) and headaches. I was admitted into a seclusion room and thought I was going to be ther for the next 2 months. I made it 3 more days when I turned for the worse, the Dr. came in, flew up the lights and said I had no choice, it was C-section time. Baby girl was born at 4.6 lbs and sent home 14 days later. I beleive it was the streroids they gave me that supported her health. It wasn’t until after everythign was said and done did I find out how close I was to losing my life, and my daughters.

    Two years later we welcomed our son. No preclampsia, but high bp. He was delivered a couple weeks early. They did find a “window” in my unterus. Which has me thinking abotu the previous post about the unterus.

  17. Mary Says:

    I gave birth to my daughter at 28 weeks due to HELLP Syndrome. I had similar symptoms, swelling of the legs, bloody nose, pain under the ribs. I had NO idea what this was at the time, and I may not have gotten to the hospital in time if my instinct didn’t tell me different. I am blessed to have a healthy 1 1/2 yr old now, but I think there needs to be much more awareness of this life threatening syndrome! Thank you for this blog!

  18. Lisa Goel Says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your two girl twins. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I know how lucky I am.

    My entire pregnancy was not normal. I had hyperemesis and had an IV pump to prevent me from vomiting so much until week 16.

    Then I had my first bleed at 9 weeks and was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. I had another big bleed at 19 weeks.

    I had another big bleed when I was 28 weeks, after a day and 1/2 of struggling with not feeling right and extremely high blood pressure.

    My OB met me at the hospital and admitted me immediately. My pressure had spiked to 180/120 several times, although the bleeding had slowed down. I was moved to a private room in Labor and Delivery and given many different blood pressure medicines every day. If it spiked, I would be a given a shot through the IV to bring it down quickly before I had a stroke.

    After trying everything in the book, I was moved to the ICU on a blood pressure medicine IV quick drip. I was attached to a bunch of monitors and my blood pressure was taken every 15 minutes. After 3 days in the ICU, I stabilized enough to be moved back to Labor and Delivery.

    The following days and nights in the hospital were long, scary, and lonely. When my blood pressure would spike, I knew right away because I would get a bad headache, nausea, chest and back pain. I always had to ring for a nurse when I started feeling like that. I also had two more big bleeds while in the hospital.

    I was put on strict bedrest and was not even allowed outside my room except for 1/2 hr in the wheelchair. I was so tired and weak from all the meds and fighting the uncontrollable high blood pressure.

    My OB didn’t know what to do with me. He even called former college buddies to see if they had any advice. One said to check for an adrenal tumor that might be causing my severely high blood pressure. That came back negative. My bloodwork kept coming back worse and my urine starting having more protein in it which was a sign of not only pre eclampsia, HELLP. My platelets dropped, and my liver functions got worse and my OB and my perinatalogist and all the nurses agreed that it was time to get the baby out. I was 30 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

    Also, the night before I was given one last ultrasound and I was found to have vasa previa in addition to Pre E and HELLP. That meant that Kiran’s blood vessels were on the outside of the amniotic sac and she could have bled to death.

    I was put on magnesium sulfate twice which made me so sick with a migraine, and nausea, and just feeling plain miserable. The magnesium was given to prevent a stroke or seizure from my pressure being so high. As soon as the doctors decided it was time, I was put back on that again. So, in addition to being scared out of my mind of how the baby would be, and how the Cesarean section would go, I just felt so ill and so sick.

    Luckily everyone was on call that day and mom, Tara, and Parag were there. Even Navin and Dipti stopped by right before the surgery with a beautfiul bouquet of flowers.

    Kiran was monitored throughout and always looked good. Her weight was a bit low, but other than that she looked great. She was always moving, kicking, punching and her heart looked great. It was always so reassuring to feel her move so often even though I was so ill. I loved seeing her so often on the ultrasounds. Every other day she had an ultrasound to check her growth, practicing breathing, movements and other things.

    At one scan she was estimated to be about 3 pounds and that got me excited. I was hoping she would be at least 3 pounds if I had to have her soon. Unfortunately, the estimate was a bit off.

    Parag put on his scrub suit and hat and mom and Tara waited not so pateintly outside the OR. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait for Kiran to be out and this to be all over with.

    Kiran Brahma was born at 9:37PM August 17, 2009, a day before her sister’s birthday, and weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces and was 14 1/2 inches long. She had long skinny toes and fingers and lots of dark, black hair on her head. She looked like a mini mini version of Alex. She was born 10 weeks early. She was due October 24, 2009.

    After 19 longs day in the hospital, I went home childless and sad and sore and knew that there were longer days ahead for Kiran.

    And it slowly began to sink in that I almost died. But, we are both alive and that is what matters and the healing that comes along with all of that.

    My placenta was examined afterward and found to be old and dried up. It was unable to nourish Kiran, and therefore Kiran had stopped growing around 28 weeks or even earlier since she was small for even a 28 weeker, although she was born at 30 weeks.

    Now, she struggles with severe GERD, upper body hypotonia, has a feeding tube, ptosis right eye and will need surgery later, and has a silent murmur.

    But, I know we are blessed.

  19. Karla Semczuk Says:

    My son Alexander was born just after Christmas, about a month early. I already had hypertension, renal & vascular issues pre-pregnancy. They weren’t able to get my blood pressure down at my prenatal appointment & the doctor diagnosed my symptoms as pre-eclampsia at just under 36 weeks & I was medically induced. I had a splitting migraine during the induction that was worse than the contractions for most of my labor, up to when the water broke. Pain under the ribs, sweaty, bloody nose on & off the last 2 months of my pregnancy, etc. I delivered vaginally a healthy, 19 inch long, 5 1/2 pound baby boy, who is and always will be my miracle. He was in the NICU for a week to stabilize his temperature & weight, but now he’s just as healthy & happy as can be! These symptoms are serious & I know I was blessed & lucky.

  20. Jennifer Says:

    I was diagnosed with Pre-E at 34 weeks. Like many of the others, I’d had no obvious symptoms. My ankles and feet were swollen, but I attributed that to the July heat. I’d had a pain in my shoulder that whole previous week, and a slight pain in my side that came and went, but I didn’t think anything of those symptoms because I was over 8 months pregnant and it was extremely hot; I didn’t expect to be comfortable! At my doctor’s appointment I had gained 7 lbs in only a week, and my blood pressure was 180/130. The protein levels in my urine were extremely high. Despite this, I felt absolutely fine, no visual disturbances, no headaches. I honestly thought all the doctors and nurses at the hospital were over-reacting. I ended up having a C-section the next day, and gave birth to an underweight baby girl; at 34 weeks she weighed only 3 lbs 6 oz. She stayed in the NICU for almost a month. After this experience I did a lot of reading about pre-eclampsia trying to understand what it was and why this had happened, why my body had betrayed me, why my baby stopped growing. The lack of answers is frustrating; the fact that my condition developed so quietly but had such grave consequences and basically no cure except delivery is alarming and continues to frighten me when considering future pregnancies. I am so so grateful for my beautiful healthy 10-month baby girl, and my heart aches for those who posted here who lost their babies.

  21. Sarah Says:

    I gave birth to my daughter at 28 weeks due to severe preeclampsia. I noticed my legs, ankles and hands were severely swollen so I asked my mom to take my bp. It was 180/120. I called my dr and they wanted to see me immediately. I went to the dr and by that time my bp was up to 200/120. I was admitted to the local hospital that day, Monday. On Tuesday, they transferred me to another hospital who was more equipped to handle a baby that small. I delivered Thursday morning via c-section. My daughter was born weighing 2lbs 3oz. I have been very blessed because she is now a healthy 4 year. I am currently pregnant with my second child and I have to say I am concerned about it happening again. I have become an avid supporter of March of Dimes and don’t know where I’d be without all their help and research.

  22. Valerie Says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories. My daughter was born in January of this year at 32 weeks. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 31 weeks and developed HELLP syndrome. I was lucky, my doctor listened to my worries and admitted me into the hospital before I started showing signs of HELLP. I was admitted at 10:30am the day my daughter was born. Throught the day my vitals continued to drop and at 8:15pm my doctor informed my husband and I that our daughter would be born via c-section immediately. Isabella was delivered at 9:29pm on Friday, January 7 at 3lbs 10oz. I was in “recovery” with my own private nurse until late Sunday evening. Because of my doctor’s quick response my daughter and I are both here and healthy. I am still suffereing with high blood pressure, something I never had before. I have also been told that I have to wait a minimum of 18 months before discussing another pregnancy. I am hopeful that I too can have a healthy, full term preganacy in the future as so many of you have shared is possible. Thanks everyone for sharing, its good to know I’m not alone!

  23. Amanda Says:

    I’m right there with all of you. I found out I had Pre-E at 24 weeks due to my feet being swollen & high blood pressure. I was admitted in the hospital & then found out I had protein in my urine & my liver enzyme count was high. Over the next 2 days i was given the steroid shots to help with the baby’s lungs. And 3 days later I had an emergency c-section. Our baby girl Addison weighed 12.5 ounces & was 10 inches long!! We knew from my 18 week appt that she was small but didn’t know how small & why. We didn’t expect her to be this small. I didnt even get to see her for the 1st 2 days after she was born because i was knocked out from the magnesium sulfate. I almost died because my liver enzyme count wasn’t coming back to normal fast enough. Miraculously, she lived 5 months & 9 days (which was a miracle in itself). She faced alot of medical procedures & fought to live everyday in the NICU. She passed away in my arms last January 25th. That was something I NEVER thought I would have to face – burying my baby girl. But God has carried me & my husband through the most difficult time of our lives & now we are expecting baby #2. I’m almost 11 weeks preggo & so far everything is looking good. I’m vein watch VERY closely by my Maternal Fetal Specialist & I’m taking Lovenox (blood thinner shots) to maybe help from getting Pre-E again. I pray that no one has to go thru what I’ve been thru in the last year & a half. I also walk in the March of Dimes & do everything I can to raise money for this cause. God bless you all!

  24. Selena Says:

    I developed Pre E with my triplets last year. I was hospitalized at 23 weeks, came home at 28 weeks, went back into the hospital at 29 weeks, and delivered my 2 sons and my daughter at 30 weeks 5 days. They stayed in the NICU for 29, 30, and 37 days. I still am supposed to monitor my bp on a daily basis. All 3 are beautiful, healthy 9 month olds now.

  25. Gayla Luchetta Says:

    This hit home for me too! I gave birth to triplets last May at 32 weeks. I had a perfect pregnancy up until 30 weeks when my swelling began. In 2 weeks I gained 45 pounds of fluid in my legs alone! At 32 weeks and 3 days the doctors had no choice but to deliver my 2 boys and a girl. They wanted to take me off the magnesium sulfate the next morning but realized that I had developed Bells Palsy on the right side of my body because of all the fluid on my brain. My preeclampsia turned into HELLP and I had to get an emergency blood transfusion as well as a platelet transfusion. I didn’t realize how serious this disorder was until the nurse pulled the curtain shut to all of my friends and family and explained to them how sick I was. I wasn’t able to see my babies for the first three days of their life which was the hardest thing I have ever faced. Finally after a week of being in the hospital and somewhat getting my blood pressure down I was sent home with blood pressure medicine that I ended up taking for a month until all the swelling went away. Thank you so much for this blog!

  26. Lorraine Says:

    We were very lucky this last March 18, when my granddaughter Savanah was born a month early…because my daughter had developed signs of preeclampsia. We were lucky because she was considered high risk due to her age 37, asthma, back issues, gestational diabetes and a few other things, so whenever she didn’t feel well her doctors, were quick to respond. Savannah was born early, but weighed 6.6(probably due to the diabetes), but was only 17 inches long. She came home at 6.1 and didn’t start to gain weight until she was home nearly 10 days (another scary time), but she is now gaining weight and seems to be doing well. I have to thank the March of Dimes for all the research they have funded, and all the education they have provided because I truly believe without that we would not have our little Savannah.

  27. Cassie Says:

    I had severe hypertension with my first son who was born at 29w, only 2lbs & severe IUGR. He will be 6 on May12. My second son was term and a normal pregnancy but I had very close monitoring. My last pregnancy last year was looking good as well. Toward the end my blood pressure did start to creep up but I was well past the 29w mark so I was not too worried. The day before I was 38w I had this lingering upper right quadrant pain and nausea unlike any morning sickness that I’d had. I got worked into my OB’s office at 5:30 for bloodwork. The next day I was going to the hospital anyway for pre-op for a repeat c/section. I had to repeat blood work at the hospital and they would not allow me to leave. I had HELLP this time. Interestingly, my bp was not all that high and I was not spilling protein. However, my liver enzymes were bad and so were my platelets. On top of that, I had been on a blood thinner for a clotting disorder so that was not good with the platelet situation. I had an emergency c/section that afternoon about 21 hours after the initial blood draw. It brought back horrible memories of my preemie being born emergency. They had even put me in the very same labor rooom as I was in with him despite the fact the hospital has had a major renovation since then and had lots more labor rooms. I didn’t say anything. I had to be put to sleep due to the HELLP. I requested that no one see my baby except hospital staff, and my hubby of course, until I woke up. I was furious they would not let me be awake. My daughter was okay though. She was 6 lb, 6 oz. The night and next day are a blur. The rest of my hospital stay was uneventlful. I went home on Sat. On Sunday, I developed the worst headache ever and I was still on Lortab for my c/section pain. The headache did finally go away after about 12 hours. The next day my bp was skyrocketing, higher than it had been at any point during the pregnancy or hospital stay. The headache was coming back too. I went back to the ER and finally after 5 hours of IV drugs, they got it down. My headache lasted the rest of that day. Thankfully I have not had one that bad since. Fourteen months later, I am still on one hypertension med and still having some bp issues. Looking back, I wonder if my first pregnancy with the severe hypertension was actuallly undiagnosed HELLP? Even though my baby was okay this last time, the HELLP made it very traumatic for me.

  28. Alyssa Says:

    First to Meredith Drews, so sorry for your loss. I too suffered from undiagnosed PreE when my son was born in 2009. I had no real tell tale symptoms, except for some swelling in my hands and feet. One night I had a severe headache that did not go away. Then in the morning my vision was compromised. I called my Ob and she sent me to LD at the hospital right away. The doctors were waiting for me when I arrived 5 minutes later. I walked in and after my blood pressure was measured, I was told my baby needed to be delivered NOW. He was 30 weeks, no time for steroid shots for his lungs, so he was born suffering respiratory distress and taken immediately to the NICU. The whole delivery happened so fast, I didn’t have any time to process being a mom. My husband and I didn’t get to see or hold our son. I was not responding to treatment. The doctors told my husband they gave us both 24 hours to “make it.” If we didn’t improve, we would both die. I spent 11 days in the hospital ,my son 42 days in the NICU. Luckily we are both doing well. He’s a growing toddler and developing slowly in some areas, but for the most part on a “normal” trajectory. Reading these stories from other women has really helped me to understand that I am not alone. No one I know has ever been affected by pre-e and they just don’t understand how serious a condition it is. I am still very affected by the trauma of what we experienced, and the fear of it happening again, possibly with a more tragic outcome, if we decide to one day try to have another baby. Thank you to all for sharing your stories-you have really helped me today.

  29. Renee Says:

    hi to all thanks for your stories even though they are from a year ago. i was recently diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and currently hospitalized on bed rest. i am allowed 2 half hour wheelchair rides per day. it has been two weeks since i was admitted. i am going CrAzY in here!!!! on christmas day i was rushed to my local hospital with severe rib pain and difficulty breathing. i had been sick vomitting for 2 days then it went away for one day then on christmas day it came back. i was vomitting the whole ride to the hospital (about 25min ride) . My bp was in the 150’s but had been below 110 all throughout my pregnancy. there wasnt any protein in my urine but my platelet count was low and liver enzymes were high so they transfered me to a hospital with an nicu in case i had to deliver because they thought i had hellp syndrome. once i got to the other hospital they done more blood work , started me on fetal monitoring, 24 hour urine collection, and bp check every 15 min. i was also on mag. The next morning i got my results back. My liver and platelet count was better my bp was slowly going back to normal but there was protein in my urine. 422 and 300 is normal. so they ruled out hellp syndrome and diagnosed me with mild preeclampsia. it has been two weeks and every 3 days i get more bloodwork and 24 hour urine test. i had recieved 2 steroid shots the day and day after i was admitted. so far my blood test have been getting better and better and my bp has not been over 130/80 . my urine test slowly keep rising with protein . the last was 513 i have another one tomorrow. my doctor says they will worry about my protein when it hits 2500-5000 mark. i am 30 weeks pregnant today. my baby girl is doing fine per ultrasound and fetal monitoring. i had an ultra sound 2 weeks ago and she was est. to weigh 2lbs and 14 oz. i am getting better it seems and ready to go home but my doctor assures me this is the best place for me since it can all change in a matter of minutes. i am beginning to wonder if i were misdiagnosed! part of me wants to deliver to get it over with but i want my baby to be as healthy as possible. i am beginning to become very depressed in here and just ready to go home! but i have to think of my baby girl and do whats best for her. i have had two miscarriages before her one at 10 weeks and the other at 7 weeks. shes my miracle baby and i am happy i have made it this far i just want her to be healthy !!!! i don’t plan on having anymore babies in the future due to my past and current pregnancy! maybe adoption would be best for future references. thanks for sharing all of your stories it helps pass the day a little faster for me while i am in here……

  30. Lindsay Says:

    Renee – Thanks so much for your comment. We know how terribly difficult it can be to be continually poked and tested while you wait, wait, wait. But you’re right to stay where you are. Preeclampsia really can change in a matter of minutes and you want to be in the best place for you and your baby if it does get worse.

    In the meantime, you might find our online community Share Your Story to be helpful. It’s for parents of preemies, or pregnant moms threatened with having a preemie. There is a section for women who are “Pregnant/On Bedrest/Trying Again. You can ask questions, complain, get advice from others who have been in your shoes… Take a look: http://www.shareyourstory.org/ I hope you’ll find it helpful.

    Hang in there, we’re all here rooting for you!

  31. Robin Says:

    I had an emergency c-section at 32 and half weeks due to preeclampsia. I actually went into seizures because my blood pressure got so high. I was find on Friday nothing wrong then I started swelling over the weekend and had the seizures less than an hour after waking up on that Monday. I woke up 12hours later and they told me my son was here. We have gone through many, many hours of hospital stays and many surgeries and I promised myself he would be and only child. I am now 18 weeks pregnant with my baby girl and am scared to death. I know it is all in God’s hand but still scared… any advice..

  32. Lindsay Says:

    Hi Robin – I’m sure you’re anxious and concerned about how things will go with this pregnancy and that’s to be expected. Keep your eyes open for any symptoms and let your doc know right away if there is a change. Don’t hesitate to call if you have a concern. In the meantime, you might want to touch base with our Share Your Story community http://www.shareyourstory.org/ or with the Preeclampsia Foundation http://www.preeclampsia.org/. Both of these groups are enormously supportive.

  33. Chrystal Says:

    I am 35 years old and 9 years ago developed preeclampsia with my daughter at 29 weeks she was born by c-section and weighted 2lbs 3oz she was in the NICU at UAMS for about 2 months I got to bring her home at 5lbs, she is now 9 years old and healthy no problems. I finally get the courage to try again to have another baby after suffering a miscarriage about 2 years ago, I find out I am pregnant this past April and since I had preeclampsia before my doctor places me on a low dose asprin at 10 weeks along, but in august at 19 weeks pregnant I start to develop high blood pressure and my perinatologist notices on the ultrasound that a fibroid is sitting behind my placenta and it has bloodflow that is taking away from the baby causing the baby to be 2 weeks behind in weight, I am placed on bedrest and put on blood pressure meds to control my blood pressure about 3 days away from being 23 weeks I go to the doctor with chest pain, blood work is drawn which shows my platelets very low and my liver enzymes extremely high, my doctor tells me I have developed the HELLP syndrome, I am flown to UAMS that day and the doctors tell me I have to deliver vaginally as soon as possible due to my condition, doctors wanna save me and since my 23 week old baby girl is already under weight she will not survive the birth they start the induction and I deliver my baby girl 2 days later she weighed 9oz, she had no heartbeat after delivery, although her heartbeat was very strong up until then lots of kicking and moving around before the induction….this all happened about 3 weeks ago…I am still trying to decide what to do my emotions tell me I want to try again in about a year or 2 but another side of me doesn’t wanna put my family through that again…is there still no research on what causes these episodes in pregnancy and how to prevent them, I would love to have another baby but I don’t wanna risk my life or another one of my childs life to do it. I miss my baby girl so much I got to hold her a see her and name her, I don’t know what to do, if I get pregnant again it will be high risk which is very stressful, it doesn’t make pregnancy fun or exciting because your in a constant state of worry…will I ever get to have a normal pregnancy after all this?

  34. Pam Says:

    In october of 2014 the weekend of our wedding I was hospitalized with severe preeclamsia and HELLP syndrome. We got married in the hospital at the chapel and 3 days later I delivered my son via c section. 29 weeks 4 days. Our son Ayden was doing wonderful. Drs said they had never seen a baby that early do so wonderful. He was three weeks old when I got the call from the NICU. Ayden had a siezure and was unresponsive. We lived an hr and 45 mins from the hospital and when I got there I was in disbelief. My perfect baby boy only 2lbs 3 oz was dying and the dr didnt understand. He had metabolic asidosis and was slowly dying. My husband and I had to make the decision to take him off life support and he died minutes later in my husbands arms. Only after the autopsy we discovered he was born without an immune system. My breastmilk kept him alive for three weeks. I struggle everyday. Im so scared and I miss my baby every second. I pray this gets easier to handle and I pray no one else will ever have to go thro this. Were walking in the march of dimes this year and every year to come. God bless ♡