Our Pregnancy + Preeclampsia Journey!

It's been so long since my last blog post, around 25 weeks to be precise. How I ever thought I was going to be able to blog regularly while continuing to work full time, prepare for the arrival of baby, and fit in a social life is a mystery to me. In saying that, here I am with a 38 week pregnancy update, and definitely my last post before baby is born. My next post will be their birth story. How amazingly cool is that?!

So at the end of my last post I had mentioned that the first trimester wasn't the greatest for me, and I am happy to say that things mostly improved from there. I definitely went on to experience all of your classic second and third trimester pregnancy symptoms, however it was nothing I wouldn't do over in a heartbeat to bring this little baby into the world. My cervical ectropion calmed down pretty much as soon as the second trimester commenced and has only reared it's ugly head on the very odd occasion after sex. I haven't noticed it at all in the third trimester actually and could not be happier about that. In saying all this, the third trimester has definitely been the most stressful for me as I found out right on the 36 week mark that I have preeclampsia.

It was very early in the morning on Wednesday the 13th of January when I woke up with an unbearable pain that felt like a giant had grasped my upper body in their hand and was squeezing me to death, sinching me in just under my breasts and across my back. I realise that sounds pretty dramatic but that's honestly what it felt like. The pain went on for a good three hours total and wasn't relieved by antacids, going to the bathroom, etc. D ended up calling the hospital and the person who spoke to us over the phone actually said that they didn't believe it was pregnancy related and said it sounded more like a gallbladder issue. They told me to take some panadol and that if I still had the pain in an hours time that I could either go to emergency or go see my GP in working hours. As I'd already put up with this pain for some time at this point, the pain actually did subside within the next hour, so I booked in to see a GP for 9pm that night (my regular GP was fully booked and this secondary GP only works in the evenings). I was completely pain free for the rest of the day, the only annoying symptom I had was swelling in my legs, feet, hands and face. I continued to work that day as normal though and was not expecting to go into the GP and hear that my blood pressure was 160/100. Given my excessive swelling and raised blood pressure, he immediately sent me to the hospital for further testing and advised me to pack an overnight bag.

Once at the hospital they tested my urine and found that I had a high enough protein creatinine ratio to be diagnosed with preeclampsia. While I was waiting to be admitted for 24 hour monitoring so that they could start me on blood pressure medication, the same sinching/tightening pain across my chest from the night before kicked in, only this time it started even more suddenly and was considerably more painful. I was in tears within minutes, and was quickly given some pain relief and then sent to bed with a sleeping tablet. It turns out this pain is what is referred to as right upper quadrant pain, and while this can be linked with gallbladder issues, it is also commonly linked with preeclampsia. It still annoys me to this day that that lady on the phone dismissed the pain I was in as being anything pregnancy related. If I hadn't already been in the hospital when that pain hit me for the second night I would have honestly been going to hospital in an ambulance as I dead set felt like I was going to die.

The next day was a bit of a blur to me. I was seen by so many different doctors, all of which had something new and different to tell me. They had basically convinced me that, best case scenario, I would need to be induced at 37-38 weeks max and only if they could get my blood pressure back under control. I was ruled out by ultrasound scans for any kind of gallbladder, liver, kidney etc. issues, and my blood test results from that first day in hospital ruled out any liver issues as well (liver issues can develop very quickly with preeclampsia). They ended up keeping me in for a second night as my blood pressure still wasn't all that great, and after taking one last lot of blood tests, they sent me back home on Friday at lunch time on medication and on the provision that I rest up and finish work a week earlier than I had planned. No sooner had I returned home however and I received a phone call to say my morning blood test results had come back with raised liver enzymes and a significantly reduced platelet count within a matter of 24 hours. The doctors were now concerned that I may be developing a serious condition called HELLP (haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome and wanted me back the next morning for more tests and observations.

Fortunately, the next day, my bloods were almost back to normal again and my blood pressure was just low enough (hypertension stage 1 rather than hypertension stage 2) for me to return home, so long as I came back twice weekly for monitoring. D, who had been running around in a panic buying all our last minute baby items, installing the carseat, detail cleaning the car, etc. had already purchased me a blood pressure monitor for home, so we hesitantly but hopefully returned home and began to start taking my pregnancy day by day as opposed to week by week. I'd lost 4kg by the time I was out of hospital and my swelling was almost non existent. By the 37 week mark we were told that everything was still looking manageable at home, and much to our surprise we were given another week before they would want to discuss an induction. Looking back now I see this as nothing but a positive, but at the time D and I had emotionally prepared ourselves for me to be induced within a matter of days, so this conflicting advice from the different doctors we were seeing was sending us through an emotional loop. I was also scared for mine and baby's health as everything I had read and every doctor I had seen up until that point had stressed just how high risk a preeclampsia pregnancy was. I was frightened to death of having a seizure, stroke, or of losing this baby in some way.

I spent the next week coming in for twice weekly monitoring, and at around the 38 week mark, just last Friday, we came in to see the head obstetrician (I'm assuming that's who she was anyway, as that's what the junior doctor was referring to her as) who advised us that we would be given yet another week at home (in the hope of going into labour naturally) and booked us in with an induction date for just past the 39 week mark. I haven't read anywhere of women being allowed to go this far without a scheduled induction once preeclampsia has been diagnosed, so either I am extremely lucky (to be honest, I probably am - had I not gone to see my GP about that upper right quadrant pain, there is no way I would have realised that I even had high blood pressure until my next antenatal appointment) or there may be something to expectant management beyond 37 weeks. Whatever the reason, I am super grateful for these extra few days, and even if I don't go into labour naturally before the induction, I can take comfort in the fact that our baby will be full term when he or she arrives. 

Another reason I am feeling so at peace is due to the support and education D and I have received from our midwife friends and hypnobirthing/positive birth instructor. I could write a whole post on our hypnobirthing education, but I'll touch on that more when I write up our birth story post. I may not be able to have the birth centre/water birth experience I had hoped for originally, but if things keep going well I'll be able to have a calm and positive birth experience regardless of the monitoring and potential interventions. With less than a week left until our scheduled induction, I would love to hear of any positive induction or preeclampsia experiences, as well as any tips and tricks for bringing on labour naturally. There isn't a lot we haven't tried at this stage, but I am willing to give almost anything a go at this point.

Please wish us the best of luck and we look forward to introducing you all to our first child very very soon!

Until next time...



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