At my seven-month prenatal visit, my blood pressure, which was normally quite low, had elevated slightly. I also complained about the early onset of swelling in my feet, but my nurse practitioner pronounced it quite normal.
My daily discomfort grew, and nothing I did reduced the swelling. Three weeks later, I weighed myself saw that I had gained 12 pounds since my last checkup! I knew something was wrong, terribly wrong.
At my doctor's appointment the next day, my weight, urine test and blood pressure confirmed it. The doctor said I had preeclampsia and told me to head immediately to the hospital. Her hope, she said, was to forestall the birth of my baby until the weekend, four days away. I was only 33 weeks at that point, and I was stunned.
In the hospital, my blood pressure stabilized and the swelling went down. I was discharged after six days, but two days later my blood pressure was elevated again and an ultrasound showed that the baby had failed to gain weight. The placenta was no longer providing enough nourishment. My doctor sent me home to prepare for an induce at eight the next morning. I was 34 weeks along, and I felt that I had failed.
Once induced, my labor proceeded very slowly. Twenty-four hours after my admission, I was still only two centimeters dilated. But when the Pitocin was administered at 6am the next day, things moved into high gear. My doctor explained that epidurals are recommended for preeclamptic mothers, because pain raises blood pressure. Shortly after 8:30, my bag of waters broke and the contractions quickened. A low-level epidural was administered at 9:15, but within 15 minutes I knew that the baby would soon arrive. The nurse examined me and quickly summoned the surprised doctor, the anesthesiologist and the neonatal team.
My daughter, Georgia Grace, arrived at 10:04am, all 3 pounds, 15 ounces of her, with a beautiful roar. Her 12-day stay in neonatal intensive care was as routine as possible. She was strong and healthy.
My pregnancy and birth experience showed me how quickly serious complications can arise and completely disrupt your plans. It also taught me to trust my own instincts when things seem wrong. Finally, it has made me grateful for the events precisely as they unfolded. Everything happened at the right time: not a minute too soon, and not a minute too late.
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