So every week or day or month I seem to get an email or facebook notification about some event, illness, whatever that it is that I should be celebrating or honoring on whatever. Who knew I could celebrate all of my causes. Last week preeclampsia awareness, march of dimes, kangaroo care, holocaust memorial or I think Twin Mom survivor! But why? Why do we have all of these days? I almost wonder if because we have all of these we actually lose sight of what they actually mean. What they mean to the world and how important they are to many of us. I think this started years ago with AIDS ribbons, breast cancer ribbons and then again it spiraled into everyone having a ribbon. I find I still see ribbons around trees and what not and I have NO CLUE what they mean and noone is there to explain it me.
I celebrate that I am a preemie mom, a NICU graduate, a breastfeeding mom, a preeclampsia survivor but to the rest of the world does this mean anything? I mean I support all of these thing I just ponder if we are losing sight of the meaning. What weeks celebrate you? What do you celebrate? What are your thoughts?
I never thought I would be the face of something. Something that harms women and children and can even kill them. Never thought something during pregnancy could affect me and my health for years to come. But I am. I am a face. I am a survivor. My babies are survivors. We were affected by Preeclampsia and this changed the whole way we had imagined our world could have been at that point.
I was 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant with identical twin boys. I had endured fertility treatments, a miscarriage, I was 37 years old, and I started heavier than I should. But I was healthy. I worked out regularly all throughout my pregnancy. I went to work everyday. I ate healthy, didn't gain a ton of weight, and everything was going smoothly. Until they were not. I had pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome from about 20 - 22 weeks but at my 30 week appointment things were getting worse. I would run home and put braces on. I would dread doing my paperwork for the end of the semester. And I was just swollen. My doctor did not seem worried so I did not either. It was at this point I stopped working out because my hands hurt so bad and I was determined to push through until winter break when I likely was done with teaching for the year.
At 32 weeks and 3 days I remember going to lunch with my friend and not feeling well. A cramp on the left side, but I had a fairly seamless pregnancy so went with the attitude that some people feel like crap the whole time so all is good. I ran across the street to the docs office and mentioned I did not feel well that day, but again not too worried. They hooked me up for my first non - stress test, everything looked great and then in to the exam to just do a basic check for a twin mom at 32 weeks. That's when things changed. My nurse came in and took my blood pressure it was 150/100. Elevated especially for me. I was a 110/70 type of woman. So my nurse came and checked again, still high. The doc explained she was admitting me but was not too worried, I had some trace proteins in my urine but not bad. She said I would be there overnight, a few days or even a few weeks and then no Matt did not need to come they were just going to do some additional monitoring.
They wheeled me upstairs. I told the nurses in registration not to worry that I was not staying because I had a brow appointment on thursday and plans all week. They got the first of what should have been a 2 shot series of steroids. They were pumping blood pressure meds and started what was a 24 hour magnesium drip. This is when things were changing and getting very fast. My blood pressure cuff rang at 187/120, I asked my nurse if I was having a heart attack. She said no but she is pretty shocked I had not had a stroke or a seizure or felt way worse. My protein levels in my urine were at severe preeclampsia and my blood pressure was not coming down. My doctor came in and said ok one of your boys is going to be an accountant because they are coming in an hour. I was taken aback. No no I was just 32 weeks. I knew they were going to be early but not this early. Could Matt get there? What do you mean? Induction could take days and my blood pressure was out of control. They were coming. I also was starting to dilate and was fully effaced which I had none of that down in my docs office.
Wait, what, excuse me, this is NOT happening. Not happening now. Is my body failing. Am I failing my boys? And I failing everyone? The answer is no but it is still a hard one for me to come to terms with. My babies were coming. They came. They were healthy. They were small. They would be in the hospital as little fighters for a few weeks. It was me that was sick. Sick enough that on my fourth day in the hospital my blood pressure was still high so they gave me medication which was not helping. It made me feel terrible and it kept me in the hospital overnight on new years eve. But at least I was going to be with my boys.
Finally after going home my blood pressure slowly started to normalize. but I felt terrible through most of my sons NICU stay. Sometimes preventing me from being there for them. From staying after I had already been there. It was horrible.
I have known many other preeclampsia survivors. Many in way worse shape that myself and way earlier. I am very lucky that everyone was ok. I was told one of the boys was starting to show signs of distress from it. I will persevere. I will represent. I will show my survivor colors. It can happen to anyone and it does happen a lot!
Jenifer Roth is a full time super woman...in her mind! Well she is good at being ok at the all the roles she takes on. Enjoy the ride!