Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Preeclampsia

I promised a post on preeclampsia...so here it is.

While I was having a lot of trouble accepting it at the time because it happened so suddenly, I can fully appreciate now that I probably had preeclampsia.  If I did not, I would have before I hit 40 weeks and a homebirth was unfortunately never going to happen for me and I was never going to stay pregnant until my due date.

As I stated many times, preeclampsia is actually pretty scary and it is best monitored by giving birth in a hospital.

I accept this.

No one knows exactly what causes preeclamsia and no one knows exactly why some women get it and not others.  But it is theorized that it is a disease of the placenta.  The placenta has a finite life anyway and begins to break down and stop working at 42 weeks, this is why everyone gets concerned if you haven't delivered by 42 weeks, but it seems in preeclampsia the placenta starts to break down earlier than it should.

I was asymptomatic in that I did not have the swelling, visual disturbances, headaches or excessive weight gain.

But I had some of the more important ones of high blood pressure, an easy induction and a baby that wasn't growing anymore.

Yeah, baby wasn't growing anymore.

If you remember, baby was measuring roughly 5.5 lbs. at 34 weeks and about 6 lbs at 36 weeks.  Baby came out at 38 weeks at 6 lbs, beefed up a bit by the IV fluids, which means he wasn't REALLY 6 lbs.  Poor baby really hadn't grown much since 34 weeks.  Yeah, I had a little belly, and a little baby in it.

This part makes me sad.  My baby being born so small makes me sad.  He's growing now and was already back to his birth weight at 6 days old, but man those were a rough few days when he was losing weight.

I'm disappointed in my placenta and the fact that it quit working.  BAD BAD PLACENTA!  (And no I did no encaspsulate or make art out of my placenta...I am angry with my placenta, it does not deserve to have art made out of it, future post on this to come.)

So yes, I had preeclampsia and I needed to have my baby in the hospital just in case something went wrong.

This isn't the part of my story that makes me angry.

The diagnosis does not make me angry.

Ok I am angry about my diagnosis, but that's my placenta's fault not the hospitals.

I am angry with the hospital because of the cookie cutter way in which they treated the diagnosis of preeclampsia.

Is all they saw was a woman showing signs of preeclampsia who was 38 weeks pregnant, full term in their eyes.  And as far as they were concerned I needed to deliver that baby right then and there, not 2 days from then, not 12 hours from then, right then.

They could see no reason to compromise.  No benefit to staying pregnant even a day longer.

What they couldn't comprehend was that just the day before I was all set to have a homebirth.  In one day I went from planning a peaceful homebirth to OMG YOU HAVE PREECLAMPSIA YOU HAVE TO BE INDUCED AND GET THAT BABY OUT NOW!

They could not accept that I was not trying to put me or my baby at risk by refusing an immediate induction but that I needed ONE night to both change gears and accept what was happening mentally AND GET SOME FUCKING SLEEP so that I could come to the hospital refreshed and ready to have a baby, not so exhausted that I don't know how I even found the energy to do what I did.

I had even signed all the leaving Against Medical Advice paperwork that they shoved in my face so I could not sue them should I start seizing in those 12 hours that I was away from the hospital.  But they couldn't let it go.

And the fuckers bullied me into that induction by calling me an hour after I left to tell me my bloodwork was changing.  Had I not been so exhausted, had I not already been fighting them for 2 days, had I just been in a better place mentally I would have questions WHAT was changing and what it meant.

But I was tired of fighting and I gave in.

In the end, once all the results from the bloodwork and the 24-hour urine test came back THAT THEY WERE SO WEIRD ABOUT LETTING ME FINISH after I'd had the baby it was determined that YES, blood work was changing heading in the direction of preeclampsia, BUT STILL IN THE NORMAL RANGE.  And the urine????  Came back normal.  


When all was said and done everyone conceded that YES, THEY DEFINITELY COULD HAVE LET ME WAIT 12 HOURS FOR THE INDUCTION, probably even a few days if I had daily monitoring!

And that, my friends, is why I desperately tried to stay out of the hospital system while I was pregnant.  Why I so desperately wanted a homebirth.  Why I was so upset with the way the induction was handled.

Everyone says that once you have the baby it doesn't matter how he came into the world because you got a healthy baby in the end.

I disagree.

Maybe I'll change my mind in the future, but for now...it still matters and I'm still pissed.

To me, they took something away from me unnecessarily by refusing to match specific circumstances to a recommended course of action.  When I pulled that baby out of me, so numb that if felt like I was pulling a baby out of someone else's body, I did not cry with pure joy or feel this overwhelming gush of love for this little thing on my chest.  I cried in relief.  Relief that it was over and that soon I'd be able to feel my legs again and I could get out of that fucking hospital.  

It took me a few days at home with baby to actually feel any sort of real emotion when I looked at him.  People say they look at their babies and wonder how they could ever love anything more and that the feeling needs a new name because love isn't strong enough, blah blah blah...I felt none of that.

Just relief.

And I felt awful because I know so many women who've had much more traumatic deliveries (3rd & 4th degree tears!  forceps!  C-sections!) and THEY were able to say that all the pain in the world was worth it just to see their babies for the first time.  And here I was with my perfectly intact perineum, no trauma whatsoever, and I couldn't, and still can't, make that statement.

With time I hope this feeling passes and that I will be able to look back on Baby Jett's birth story with better feelings than anger and sadness...but for now it is what it is.

The hospital, once again, has proven to me that it is the worst place in the world for women to be having babies under normal circumstances...and that even under abnormal circumstances like preeclampsia I wish there were other options.

Hopefully if we can manage to get pregnant again in the future we can stay far far away from the hospital and get our homebirth that we're still longing for.  And please god let me not end up preeclamptic again!


  1. I think a lot of women feel relief. I've even read in books that sometimes the first thing a mother says after she gives birth is something along the lines of "I DID IT!" and not anything related to the baby. Not speaking from experience, it is a crazy ordeal, often engulfed in chaos. You are allowed to be angry and frustrated about your birth experience - having a healthy baby and minimal lady part trauma does not negate the experience you had. Hopefully next time will be different. But I am glad that in the end things turned out okay, in that you do have a healthy baby and minimal lady part trauma.

  2. I was induced at 37 weeks with my first child because I had suddenly developed preeclampsia. I was taken to the hospital with severe chest pains caused by my liver freaking out and was admitted with a bp of 210/95. I was put on bp iv meds (magnesium i think) given a tylenol 3 and told to SLEEP. And they would induce me first thing in the morning.My body was shutting down. I am thankful for the medical professionals that saved my life and also that they allowed time for my body to rest before I had to labor. I do not see why you were forced to induce right then and there. Especially if they were saying you were only slightly preeclamptic....

  3. Jes, i am so sorry you didn't get the birth you had envisionned. I know as we get closer I have more and more plans, and would be devastated if they didn't work out - and I am nowhere near as set as you are. I am glad that Jett is home and safe with you, but sad that it didn't turn out as you had wanted and that it affected your feelings. (Although I have heard many women say it takes a few days to get attached and is by no means instant). I hate that your placenta gave out and that all your plans went with it. That said, your baby is perfect, and growing perfectly on the outside, and I hope with #2 you get to have the birth you had hoped for.

  4. I think feeling relief is totally normal. I felt 80% relief and 20% love for my baby.. I was a more gradual "falling in love with my baby" type person.. it wasn't instant, so I don't think that reflects bad on you in any way. I am so upset for you after reading this... I can't imagine how out of control you must have felt with the hospital reacting the way they did. My hospital gave me 2 days before my induction so I was grateful to have the time to absorb the news, prepare and go in calm and ready. I would have been a WRECK if I had been in your shoes. You are a strong woman though, and you handled it well and birthed your baby like a champ! I hope you get your home birth in the future. :-) PS- your Little is so stinking sweet!!!!

  5. I am really sorry that you did not get the birth experience that you wanted, and I think you are absolutely entitled to feeling how you're feeling about the whole thing. I too want to echo the sentiments that everyone is sharing about the feeling of relief--my best friend just had her baby and she straight up told me the first thing she felt was relief, not overwhelming love or even joy. And she had a normal pregnancy and normal delivery with no complications or interventions whatsoever! So while I think that your feelings of relief definitely had to do with you being in a situation you weren't happy about, I also feel like those feelings are maybe not mutually exclusive to your situation either.

    I do want to just quickly touch on what you spoke about at the end of your post, but I want to be totally clear that I absolutely respect your feelings and think you are totally allowed to feel the way you do. However, I have to disagree when you say "The hospital, once again, has proven to me that it is the worst place in the world for women to be having babies under normal circumstances..." Maybe for you, yes. But not at all for me. I am thrilled to be delivering in a hospital. My husband is a healthcare professional who works in hospitals and I 100% trust and love the OB/GYN and the hospital I've chosen. So I just want to point out that that's not the case for everyone (but I definitely know that in your post that you were mostly speaking in the "for me" circumstances). I have no desire to ever birth my children at home, but that's just me, and not you. I really and truly hope that next time you absolutely get the birth you wanted. After this experience, you definitely, definitely deserve it.

    And thank you for your honesty! I love reading other people's perspectives. And again, I'm so sorry it wasn't the experience you wanted and I hope that time helps heal those wounds a bit.

  6. I love that you touched on that it's NOT just about having a healthy baby in the end. It is about having a good birth experience and getting what you wanted. You've carried that baby for months in your belly, you should enjoy giving birth!! People say to me all the time that the biggest concern for this baby is it being born healthy (ie. not like Sadie), but I have had to give up my homebirth dream. I hate that I have to give birth in a hospital just so everyone else is comfortable. I'm choosing not to fight them (mostly my husband) this time... but next time I'm staying home!!! I'm glad you're mad and unsatisfied and I hope that next time you get exactly what you want!

    And PS. I think all I could say for like 15 minutes after having Sadie was, "I just had a baby!!" And I didn't fully comprehend that I might lose that baby, I wasn't sad or worried or anything that she wasn't with me but that she had been rushed to the hospital. It wasn't until almost 12 hours later that I really cried over her.

  7. It's so frustrating when things don't go as planned:( Especially when you mentally prepared for them a certain way- Your baby is BEAUTIFUL! I truly am so happy for you- my little guy was 4 pounds born at 35 weeks and is doing AMAZING now at three months! Hang in there because the beginning was the hardest for me- my hormones were WAAAAY outta wack for a while! Promise it will feel so amazing soon- that TRUE feeling of being a mommy is coming soon!

  8. BeckBabyMama:
    I love that you touched on that it's NOT just about having a healthy baby in the end. It is about having a good birth experience and getting what you wanted.

    Is this a parody? Are you for real? Of COURSE it's all about having a healthy baby! Birth is highly unpredictable and difficult to plan for. Sure, you might have preferences, but to prioritize or equate YOUR experience and getting what YOU want over the safety and wellbeing of your baby is just breathtaking.

  9. Just to put my comment into context. I have had a baby die. I've also had 'traumatic' births. Trust me when I say, a crappy birth experience is NOTHING compared to the loss of a baby.

  10. This is the craziest thing I have ever read. Of COURSE having a healthy, breathing, baby is all that matters - not YOUR birth experience. This craziness about having the "perfect" birth "experience" has to stop.

  11. I'm glad your baby arrived safely.

  12. I agree Anonymous. It's not all about you and your 'perfect experience' guys.
    Birth is by it's very nature unpredictable and unfortunately complications do happen. Perhaps there'd be less women with birth trauma if they went into labour with an open mind, understanding that things can and do go wrong, that interventions are sometimes necessary and that ultimately the most important thing is your baby's safety and wellbeing.
    I went into my most recent birth with a completely open mind. Having lost a 5 week old baby the year before really put things into perspective. I recognized that I could only be disappointed by having interventions if I let myself be disappointed and that the need for interventions was something outside of my control.So why should I have to feel as though I, or my doctors, had somehow 'failed' if I did end up having them?
    I ended up having an induction and c-section, and it turned out to be one of the most spiritual and amazing experiences of my life. Holding my healthy, live, beautiful baby in my arms brought tears of joy to my eyes. Why on earth should I care HOW he got here? He was here, safe and well. And that's what mattered.

  13. First, I'm glad you and your baby are healthy.

    To give you a little perspective as to why the medical community takes preeclampsia so seriously, please see: http://www.preeclampsia.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=14&sid=e1fbb22cd8709686440e0b04405c9cfa Read a little bit about the bad things that can and do happen with this disease. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy remain among the top causes of maternal death, and are a major cause of indicated preterm delivery.

    The only way to know if it is OK to wait 12 hours to start induction is retrospectively. Preeclampsia is so dangerous in part because it varies so much in clinical presentation and rate of progression. You can have preeclampsia and stay stable for days or even weeks, and you can also go from rock solid stable to being in the ICU and on a ventilator in a matter of hours. I've seen plenty of both, and they often start out looking exactly the same. So unless your docs had a working crystal ball to figure out if you would be in the group that would be fine to wait, it sounds as if they did the right thing by attempting to get you to come in.

    Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby.

  14. BeckyBabyMama - Serious introspection is needed here. From your comment, it sounds like your husband and family are all concerned with the wellbeing of your baby. Are you a rebellious teenager? Are you going to be "naughty" and have a home birth (and thereby put that baby at risk of serious problems) to throw it in your family's face for the sake of your own pleasure, however short-lived? Does one or two days of supposed "discomfort" in the hospital outweigh a LIFETIME of problems or even death for your baby? Like Kate B, I have a hard time believing these are your real thoughts, except that I have seen the mother's birth experience elevated over the LIFE and HEALTH of helpless babies too many times to ignore.

  15. Jesica, I am so glad you have a healthy baby - congratulations!

    I'm puzzled - and shocked - by the language you've used towards medical professionals who worked to preserve your health and that of your baby.

    Tremendous progress has been made in obstetric medicine over the last century, progress that resulted in a safe delivery for you and your baby. Isn't that what's really important?

  16. I am due any moment with my 4th child, and with that wisdom I must say that hospital's are not home, steril, and prescribed. They do make mistakes.....but with my 4th child the cord was wrapped around his neck 3 times and without a hospital birth he would have died, quite possibly myself with him. My suggestions, BE FLEXIBLE, birth experiences never turn out to be what one expects. The horror of and epidural to me is heaven compared to the feeling of death during an unmedicated delivery, and indeed I know both experiences. The most important thing when it comes to childbirth for the mother is to be as flexible as possible, speak up and communicate your feelings, if they can work with you great, if not go with it and forge ahead. In the end you are still a mother....and that was the goal.

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  18. I had a really bad experience with pre-eclampsia where I almost lost my life. I have a blog if you would like to read about it. I hope my blog can help other women. Please ready my Pre-Eclampsia Story


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