First I want to note that I had a great pregnancy up until this point, had a few days of mornings sickness and some fatigue in the beginning but otherwise it was great. I complete all my required schoolwork for the term and had just finished the 4th week of an 8 week fieldwork placement when this all happened.
|Last bump photo (taken at 27 weeks)|
Saturday, June 1st
I was awoken suddenly, early in the morning (around 3am) by a sharp pain in my upper abdominal area right below the sternum. It was a weird pain, it lingered for a bit and subsided only to come back a little stronger. I jogged my brain to remember what I had eaten the evening before thinking that it was heartburn. I had never experienced heartburn in my life, but knew it was a common in pregnancy - especially in the last trimester (I was going to be 30 weeks on Tuesday). So I chalked it up to "heartburn" and had a pretty uncomfortable sleep - telling myself I would head to town for some tums in the morning. I really didn't feel well for most of the day, I rested on the couch for most of the morning and then started to feel a bit better after lunch, so I headed to the store. I had a baby shower for a friend on the Sunday that I needed to provide a dessert for so I got some things that I needed for that and picked up some Tums. I came home took some tums and prepared the dessert as well as started some supper for the evening and was generally feeling better. "Wow" I said to my husband, "heartburn is not fun, I never knew if could be this bad". We laughed, ate supper, and settled on the couch for the evening. Then around 8pm the pain came back this time along with a wicked headache. I popped a Tylenol and then called my mom. I filled my mom in on the details and while on the phone with her the pain became extremely intense, nearly unbearable. My mom suggested that I call Health Links (a local resource that connects you with a Registered Nurse to help with decisions on what care you may require). I told the nurse on the line my spiel, nearly 30 weeks pregnant, on and off pain in upper abdomen below sternum that I would rate a 7-8 at times, swollen feet (don't all pregnant women?!) and answered all her questions, by this point I was actually feeling almost 100% better.
But this was her advice: "take a baby aspirin and call the ambulance ASAP."
Me: "What?!" Yes, that was my response. "you know what..since the beginning of our conversation the pain has subsided substantially"
The nurse then asked, "are you going to take my advice?"
I responded, "well truthfully, I'm not going to call the ambulance. Like I said, I'm feeling much better but if the pain returns I will definitely have my husband drive me to the ER."
Nurse, "so your not taking my advice?"
Me: "No, not at this time."
Nurse: "Ok, but that is my advice."
I hung up the phone, my husband looked at me puzzled and asked what she said, "I think she thought I was having a heart attack! I'm not having a heart attack! The pain is gone now, I'm ready for bed". My husband questioned me again and said it was up to me, hospital or no hospital, "no hospital" I responded and off we went to bed.
(Note: I know your probably shaking your head at me at this point and I don't blame you. If I learned anything from my experience it is trust the professionals. I figured I knew my body -- but now realize I may have been in denial - and at this point the pain had subsided - and didn't want to be over dramatic by heading to the ER. I do wish that the nurse had explained to me WHY she was advising me to call the ambulance, I may have been more inclined to follow her advice if she explained what she thought was going on - she gave no explanation and as I said from her advice I assumed she miss understood where I describing the pain.)
Sunday, June 2
I woke up feeling fine! I had slept well and had no pain. I had sent my friend a text before I went to bed saying I may not make the shower as I wasn't feeling great so I texted her again telling her I would make it and was feeling better. So my husband and I headed to my parents (the shower was near their home) and I went off to the shower that afternoon. All my friends were there and of course being pregnant everyone asks how you are, I explained my previous 24 hours to most, laughing it off. Most agreed that I looked fine - "but wow your feet are swollen!". After the baby shower, we had supper at my parents and then prepared to head home. Before leaving though, my mom said that she thought my face was really swollen and even my arms a bit, well I am pregnant mom!
"I don't know, you look so pale too" my mom stated.
"Well, I feel fine right now," I kissed her goodbye and we headed home.
Got home and went to bed.
Monday, June 3
I was again awoken around 2 am, this time the pain was extremely intense. I went to the washroom and was so dizzy. When I went back to the bedroom, picked up my iPhone.
I googled my symptoms: swollen feet, upper abdominal pain, headache, dizziness while pregnant.
All my results: PRE-ECLAMPSIA/ECLAMPSIA. (insert panic)
Immediately I woke Matt and said "we need to go to the hospital! I don't care if maybe I'm self-diagnosing and being dramatic but we are going". We hopped in the truck and made the 30 minute drive to the closest hospital - we arrived around 3 am.
Luckily, there was no one else in the waiting room. I was immediately triaged by the nurse. She took my blood pressure: 150/94. Oh no! I thought it is pre-eclampsia (as a high blood pressure was the link to all the other symptoms). The nurse said nothing, didn't even seemed phased my high BP and sent me to sit with my husband until I'm called.
We waited a few minutes and then we were placed in a ER bed, a nurse checked my stats again, asked me a few questions and then we waited for the doctor. The nurse and doctor came in about 20 minutes later (it was actually a doctor I had had at another ER visit).
Dr: "So I hear your having some upper abdominal pain ... explain the pain ...where exactly..."
I answered his questions pointing to just under my sternum radiating right and sometimes into the back, can become a 7-8.
Dr: "Well I think we are looking at a case of gallstones - which is very common in pregnancy..either that or you are having a hairy baby" he and the nurse laugh.
Me: "oh really? Gallstones?" (seriously, like I said I had seen this doctor before (not during pregnancy) -- and his answer that time was gallstones/kidney stone then too which was wrong...really Dr..really I'm thinking)
Dr. "Ya, very common, just hang tight I'll be back"...then as he turns to leave he takes a look to the monitors.."HOLY! IS THAT YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE?!" (yep, guys -- aloud with a surprised look -- great bedside manner and way to make me panic even more!)
Me: "Um, yep" (while I'm thinking...you still think it's gallstones now doc?!)
He excuses himself. I can hear him talking to the nurse outside the curtain and hear the words, pre-eclampsia, call obstetrical triage. I turn to Matt, "guess I'm not over dramatic eh? I hope our girl is ok."
The doctor returns, and said that he was sending us to another hospital's obstetrical triage - they are aware we are on route and sent us on our way. Yes, by ourselves - not in an ambulance (people are always perturbed by this -- as am I) so at this point I'm worried but not panicked that out situation is super critical
It was early morning so traffic was light we arrived at the obstetrical triage within 15 minutes. We do all the paperwork, I'm admitted and placed in a triage bed. A nurse says they will need a urine sample at some point and says she'll leave the cup in the washroom, and a doctor should be with me shortly. I have to say we waited longer than I would have liked but finally an Intern arrived (*really from this point I'm a little iffy on all the details and order of events). Asked some questions, took my BP, ordered bloodwork.
He then returned and explained, that they believe that what I was experiencing, was HELLP syndrome - which stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count. It's a form of eclampsia that often comes on suddenly and with no previous pre-eclamptic symptoms or concerns.
Then he continues to explain, that if this is in fact what is happening -- the only treatment for this condition is to deliver the baby as soon as possible.
My mind raced, my heart raced, and I looked to Matt thinking is this really happening?
I'll be back later this week with Part II. From here there are a roller coaster of emotions that come back with reminiscing and I think I might find it hard to write, but hope to finish it up!