It was the eve of my husband's birthday around 11:30 pm. I'd just finished taking a shower and my husband Casey and I were up watching Jimmy Fallon. We didn't have any big plans for his birthday except for a small, intimate dinner at home. After all, I didn't want to leave our house because I was 38 weeks pregnant and carrying big. I was 207 lbs, swollen, and moving around had become painful.
As we sat in bed, Casey and I found ourselves laughing at a hilarious skit featuring the night's guest, Kevin Hart. All of a sudden, I felt the urge to use the bathroom. As soon as I motioned to get up off my bed...MY WATER BROKE!
Before I continue, let me just say that I knew Graysen was going to come early, but not two weeks before his expected due date! The amount of water that came flowing outside of me reminded me of a river. No joke! So. Much. Water! It honestly scared me.
I was already nervous enough because the previous week, I saw my hematologist and she advised that my blood platelets were low. When your blood platelets are low, your blood is unable to clot. Therefore, in the event of giving birth, you will not be able to get an epidural or have the option to get a c-section because you may bleed out or hemorrhage. This was always a concern for me because, from the latter part of the second trimester, my blood platelets fluctuate. Ironically, the follow-up appointment with my hematologist was scheduled for the same day my water happened to break. I had no clue that Graysen would decide to make an early debut so when my water broke, I immediately panicked. I panicked because of the river that was forming in my room and also because I was unsure whether the steroids prescribed to increase my blood platelets had actually worked. Regardless, this baby was coming within 24 hours.
I made my way to my bathroom, despite the water still flowing out of me. I sat on the toilet and it continued to flow. At that point, I yelled to Casey who was in his office in the next room ... MY WATER BROKE!
Weeks before, I made sure that my bag was packed and I laid out some comfy clothes to wear to the hospital. I threw on the leggings and T-shirt that I laid out and waddled to the car... water was still trickling out of me. Casey grabbed my bag and we picked up my mother in law before heading to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, I was having contractions but they were sporadic. I remembered feeling scared of the unknown. We arrived at the hospital around 1 am. I was still leaking water when I got out of my car to sit in a wheelchair. Casey rolled me into the administration office. After completing paperwork, I headed to the Labor & Delivery floor.
When we arrived, I was taken to the triage room where nurses checked your vitals and prepped you to be taken into the delivery room. There, I changed from my wet clothes to a hospital gown. I climbed on to the bed and laid on my back, which was uncomfortable and after this point, the night was a blur. I can recall a few events that took place that night.
I remember having my blood pressure checked. The doctor informed my family and me that my blood pressure was dangerously high, which confused me. Throughout my pregnancy, my blood pressure was perfect at every prenatal appointment. Perfect! So why was it so high now all of a sudden?!?
Being the millennial mom that I am, where information is available at my fingertips, I read everything having to do with pregnancy. I read about preeclampsia and how dangerous it is. I knew two of the major signs of preeclampsia was high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Because my blood pressure was historically within healthy levels and I passed my glucose tolerance test, I just knew that there was no way that I had preeclampsia. But, I was wrong, I did. As a matter of fact, I had many symptoms throughout my pregnancy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure may develop slowly, or it may have a sudden onset. Monitoring your blood pressure is an important part of prenatal care because the first sign of preeclampsia is commonly a rise in blood pressure. Blood pressure that exceeds 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater -- documented on two occasions, at least four hours apart -- is abnormal.
Other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include:
-Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems
-Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
-Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
-Nausea or vomiting
-Decreased urine output
-Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia)
-Impaired liver function
-Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs
Throughout my pregnancy, I experienced 6 out of the 9 symptoms listed above at different times. I didn't experience all of those symptoms at once. If I did, then it would've been obvious to me that I had developed preeclampsia.
The nurses inserted an IV in me and began to administer magnesium, which was used to prevent me from having a seizure. They also gave me medication to lower my blood pressure. Just knowing that, terrified me. At that moment, I realized how serious my condition was and I began to pray to myself. All of a sudden a health team that consisted of 6 doctors and nurses rushed in. I can recall the worried look on my husband's and mother in law's faces. It was clear that something was wrong. I don't know why but I figured it was standard. I was just that out of it. I later found out that the health team came in because Graysen's heart rate dropped. Once he was stabilized, I was transferred to the room where I would eventually give birth.
It was around 7 am when we arrived in the delivery room. I rolled myself into the bed. I realized at that moment, this would be the last time that I would have to endure the painful task of getting into bed with my huge belly.
The nurses came in and hooked me up to the monitors and also started the magnesium again. I began to feel hot and flushed - a side effect of the magnesium. A nurse checked my vitals and saw that my blood platelets were still low, 77 k/uL (kilo per microliter). The standard range is between 150-400. She then gave me antibiotics to help increase my blood platelets. I hoped for the best at this point, because I really wanted to get an epidural.
Shortly after, the anesthesiologist came in to speak to me. He was a big, tall gentleman who looked extremely intimidating. The type that didn't smile. But as soon as he saw me, he asked how I was and grinned. That made me feel good. I couldn't put into words all the emotions that I was feeling since being told that I had preeclampsia, so seeing his smile assured me that everything was going to be just fine. He told me that he was concerned about administering the epidural since my blood platelets were so low. He wanted to give the steroids some time to work their magic and hopefully increase my platelets.
I believe I was only 1cm dilated at this point. The nurses then told me to rest for the work that I was going to put into bringing my son into this world.
That's exactly what I did.
The next couple of hours would consist of the nurses coming in to check on me and to check my vitals.
I lost track of time at this point but the anesthesiologist came back after a little while and told me that my blood platelets increased to 99k/uL and he felt comfortable giving me the epidural. When he gave me the epidural, it took only a couple of minutes for me to start to feel the effects of it.
A couple of hours passed and I was only 6-7cm dilated. A nurse came and told me that the baby was "sunny side up," meaning the baby was facing towards my stomach instead of my back. Usually, babies turn once they're being delivered so I didn't worry too much about this. If the baby is unable to turn, a c-section is usually the only option. That was not an option for me due to my low blood platelet count. A couple of hours passed and one of the nurses gave me a "peanut" ball, to help progress the labor and in hopes that Graysen would turn on his own. The anesthesiologist came back to my room to advise that my blood platelets decreased again. I was shocked. I couldn't help but think, "well, what does this mean now that the epidural has been administered to me?" He then said that they would monitor me closely since the epidural was already in.
My aunt (who's an OB/GYN) came to the hospital. She was familiar with all my complications throughout my pregnancy. She spoke to my doctor about what was the best option for me since my blood platelets decreased and a c-section was not the best option for me. They decided that the best option was for me to continue labor and to push when it was time. I agreed.
After another hour or so, I was finally 10cm dilated. It was time to push. I didn't know what to expect but I pushed with everything that I had. I pushed and pushed for several hours. I pushed so hard, that I burst the capillaries in my eyes leaving the whites of my eyes bright red. I wouldn't call what I was feeling pain -thanks to the epidural. But the pressure... ugh! The pressure that you feel is one of EXTREME discomfort. It was a powerful feeling. Because of all my complications, I was being closely monitored by a team of doctors and nurses. My husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were all there in the room with me as well.
Casey was such an amazing partner. He was right there by my side coaching me through breathing and helping me push. After a long session of pushing, everyone saw how exhausted I was. I cannot put into words how I felt at that moment. It felt like I was pushing for hours and Graysen's head didn't even crown. I felt sad and disappointed. Wondering why I couldn't do what women dating back to the beginning of time had done countless times.
My doctor then decided to do an episiotomy (a surgical cut at the opening of the vagina.) I didn't care. I just wanted Graysen out. I was beyond exhausted. The time came to push again. I remember pushing and feeling a sharp pain .... that was my doctor cutting me. Sorry, TMI. I blocked out the pain of her cutting and continued to push.
Then everyone yelled, "HE'S HERE!" I didn't know at the time, that my doctor used forceps to pull Graysen out because he wasn't moving due to the position he was in.
I didn't care. He was finally out. It took me a minute to process what happened but when I heard Graysen cry, I let out the most agonizing cry. There were so many emotions in the cry that I let out. I was happy, relieved, exhausted, drained, and ecstatic that my son arrived safely despite all of my complications. My sister in law said that through tears I yelled, " THAT WAS THE HARDEST THING THAT I EVER HAD TO DO!"I remember the moment that I laid eyes on Graysen. It was a surreal moment. I was in love and just gazed at him in awe. I was so thankful for God bringing him into this world safely. I was considered high-risk and so many things could've gone wrong, but it didn't.
Because of the preeclampsia, I had to stay in the hospital for a week while my blood pressure, liver, and kidneys were monitored. Initially, it was tough. On the second night, my blood pressure was extremely high and I had to get monitored closely. I had a migraine that was so painful, the doctors admitted me to the ICU. They scanned my brain just to make sure that my brain wasn't bleeding. I was so terrified. Thank God, that I wasn't bleeding. I don't know if I was in the early stages of postpartum depression, but I was feeling down once I had time to really look back and recall all that I went through. There were moments where I would just burst into tears. My birth story was traumatizing and when I think of it, I get sad. I didn't have the beautiful birth experience that I always imagined that I would have and I'm now realizing that its ok. As long as my son and I are healthy, that's all that matters.
Thank God for supportive family and friends that got me through that tough time. It helped to talk about it. Even some of the nurses that took care of me while I was there told me that they also had preeclampsia and that I WILL get through it. By day four, I realized that the hospital stay was best for me. My health was a priority and it was important for me to heal before leaving.
It's been 8 weeks since coming home from the hospital and I'm just now starting to feel like myself.
My blood pressure has since stabilized (after weeks of being on medications and daily monitoring) and my kidney and liver numbers are trending up. This was by far the hardest thing that I ever had to deal with. But when I look at my son, he makes it all worth it.
I'm truly grateful for the wonderful team of doctors and nurses who took care of me and Graysen. I'm also grateful for my amazing husband and family who never left my side. I'm thankful for my friends who called, texted and left messages. Your support was truly appreciated.