It was early in the morning on 23rd of December 2016 and I was out with my family to have an early (pre-birth) celebration breakfast. I was swollen to the point there were bubbles on my toes, I was struggling to breathe and I had a slight headache that wouldn’t go away. I felt a bit off but nothing out of the ordinary for someone 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant: or so I thought anyways.
As the day progressed the headache got worse and worse and I was seeing stars in my vision. I probably should’ve realised this wasn’t normal but it wasn’t until I was walking back to the car that I noticed I had lost all my peripheral vision and it was getting worse with each passing second. I told my partner Nathan but we both shrugged it off since it was a really hot day and I hadn’t drunk a whole lot of water. On the drive back home I noticed my headache was getting worse but I put it down to a migraine and figured that is why I had lost almost all of my vision and could only see shadows in bright light. When we got back home, I went to bed telling myself to sleep it off, only to wake up in the evening feeling 10 times worse…
I couldn’t even feel m head the headache was that intense and I cried for my grandma. I told Nathan I needed to be with her and that I didn’t feel right at all. My headache was so bad by this point that I wanted to smash and bang my head, just to distract me from the pain.
Nathan gave me a bottle of water and we drove to my grandma’s. When we arrived I told her how I had been feeling and she said I needed to go to the doctors. I tried to laugh it off and said I was fine; I just needed a cuddle and some comfort. Besides, it was nearly 7:00 pm and my GP would surely already be closed. My grandma ended up calling the clinic and to my surprise they were open and had one doctor left on shift. Nathan rushed me down there and that’s where I explained everything that had happened since that morning. The doctor asked if she could check my blood pressure. I didn’t think much of it but the second the compression came off my arm and the results where on the screen, she’d gone very white and quickly left the room. Yes ran out of the room!
I thought it was quite an overreaction and was a bit confused, how could anything be that wrong? I felt relatively fine. She came back a few moments later and advised they had called an ambulance, “you’re going to have your baby!”.
I couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth, I was in shock. “Have you ever heard of preeclampsia?” She asked. I hadn’t but don’t remeber being able to verbalise this. I sat in the doctor’s room, confused, as the paramedics arrived and wheeled me into the ambulance. After this, everything became a blur. I don’t remember the ride to the hospital but I do remember being in an elevator, telling the paramedics I was a blueberry.
I was in and out of sleep, blacking out constantly. My body was shutting down. Knowing what I do now, in hindsight, with a blood pressure reading of 180/240, I should of been dead. Afterwards I was told by every doctor, nurse and midwife how lucky I am to be alive.
I spent the night in hospital and the following day (Christmas Eve), I was rushed in for an emergency cesarean as I had developed HELLP syndrome (haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count). So Christmas Eve ended up being the day I met my baby girl Amethyst, born at just 5 pound 15 ounces, perfect and healthy.
The road to recovery for me was not easy. I spent a week in hospital with high blood pressure and my organs were still shutting down. When I was finally discharged, I went home with a huge list of medications I had to take. I was also told not to have anymore children, yet here I am 3 years later with two beautiful baby girls.
Preeclampsia is so serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I hadn’t been educated on the warning signs but I urge all pregnant women to never underestimate your symptoms. Even if it is just a silly little headache that Panadol doesn’t help with, it’s worth going and getting checked out by your doctor or midwife, before things get out of control.