Saturday, October 14, 2006


Most women who get preeclampsia develop a mild version near their due date and they and their babies do fine with proper care. But when preeclampsia is severe, it can affect many organs and cause serious or even life-threatening problems. That's why you'll need to deliver early if your condition is severe or getting worse.

A blood pressure of 210/160 is severe (that was me!).

Preeclampsia causes your blood vessels to constrict, resulting in high blood pressure and a decrease in blood flow that can affect many organs in your body, such as your liver, kidneys, and brain. When less blood flows to your uterus, it can mean problems for your baby, such as poor growth, decreased amniotic fluid, and placental abruption — when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery.

Changes in your blood vessels caused by preeclampsia may cause your capillaries to "leak" fluid into your tissues, which results in swelling (known as edema). In rare cases, preeclampsia can lead to seizures, a condition called eclampsia. In fact, "pre-eclampsia" was so named because it was first identified as the condition that leads to these seizures. All women with severe preeclampsia are given magnesium sulfate, an anti-seizure medication.

Despite extensive research, no one knows for sure what causes the condition. It's likely that there's no single explanation. Genetics, certain underlying diseases, the way your immune system reacts to pregnancy, and other factors may play a role. Most experts believe that many cases of preeclampsia actually begin early in pregnancy, well before any symptoms become evident.

Well there it is, no known cause, no known prevention, and the "cure" is to give birth. But this is why I agreed with RescueMike to have this baby in a hospital. He will take my blood pressure regularly, especially toward the end of the pregnancy and we will keep regular prenatal visits with the midwife. She will test for protein in my urine and generally keep and eye on things. I will watch for swelling, especially in my face, and rapid weight gain near the end. Other than that, I will stay as healthy as possible and hope it doesn't appear this time.

So I plan to have two birth plans, one for no pre-e and one for pre-e. I will be more flexible with my expectations and I will have a better understanding of what will need to happen if I do end up with it again.

And I now understand how bad my condition was, what the risks were, and how lucky I was not to end up with a c-section. Acceptance feels good.

After the birth...

First the stats, Cub arrived on a Monday afternoon, 3:14 pm, at 5 lbs 12oz and 19 inches long after 6-7 hours of labor. He was two weeks early.

Well, after Cub was born, they took him away for a long time. I think it was about 24 hours, which to me seem endless. I had wanted to nurse him immediately and never have him leave my sight. They told me he had a few "hiccups" in his breathing and wanted to keep him under observation. What they didn't tell me is that I also needed observation. More on that later.

I was lying on my bed in the hospital talking to my mom when my hubby popped his head around the corner and asked "Are you up for a visitor?". I snarled back "Only if they bring me my baby!". And that's exactly who he wheeled around the corner in his little bassinet. The first thing I did besides stare at his little face, was to pull him to my breast and he immediately latched on. Apparently, in the NICU, they tried to give him some sort of artificial nipple and Cub was having NOTHING to do with it. But he loved the real thing!

I still had these linger feelings of resentment about the birth. I felt so disconnected, so distant from the process. I had wanted to feel the power of childbirth, to work hard and hurt and FEEL everything. And all I remembered, even a day later, was snippets and images of contractions.

I didn't dwell on these feelings after Cub was back in my arms. After all, I was leaving the hospital healthy, with a healthy little boy. And even today, I have a healthy, handsome, loving son who is smart and emotionally stable.

And we have simply enjoyed him for the past eight years. I looked back occasionally with some sadness, but it didn't last long.

And now eight years later, I am pregnant again. The first thing I did is check out the maternity clothes available now and then the nursing clothes (much nicer this time). Then I started thinking about the upcoming birth, and all the old feelings came back. I did NOT want to repeat that again. I blamed the hospital and all the drugs for the problems I had. So I started looking into home birth. The statistics are that for low-risk pregnancies, a midwife attended home birth is as safe, or safer, than a hospital birth. So why not?

RescueMike was not in favor of this at all! Keep in mind that he was lucid for Cub's birth and understood how close he came to losing me and Cub. At his reaction, I remembered about the pre-eclampsia. I had heard them say that's what I had, but after the birth I didn't go back and research it at all.

This time I did. Next...Pre-eclampsia - what is it?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cullen's Birth Story

My SIL asked me "What kind of birth do you want?"

Now this is not as simple as "The kind with a baby at the end of it."

But I think this may have to be a multi-part post, starting with Cub's birth story:

There are a lot of things I don't remember about my pregnancy, but I do still remember the feelings and emotions around the last couple of weeks. There were a couple of scares with pre-term labor that were chalked up to dehydration. It was July/August in southern New Mexico and very hot! I just couldn't seems to drink enough fluids, and I didn't understand the importance of ALWAYS being hydrated.

I look back at the pictures of my baby shower, on a nice Friday night, and can't believe how bloated I look. I remember going shopping with my mom sometime around then too and coming home with huge, swollen ankles. Then I woke up on Sunday morning at 38 weeks, with contractions. They were not consistent yet and not all that bad. We went to church that morning and the contractions got closer and steadier. We went home after church and waited to see how they would do. I don't remember the contractions being very powerful - in fact I cut RescueMike's hair a few minutes before we headed to the hospital. I could walk and function through them all, but they were consistently 5 minutes apart for quite some time. So we headed to the hospital.

I was SHOCKED to find out that I had gained 60 pounds at that point! I knew I had gotten heavier than I should, but not that much. They ask about the contractions and from the look on the gal's face I figured they would be sending me home.

Then they took my blood pressure. I had hovered around 100/60 through the whole pregnancy but this time it was somewhere around 160/110. It was all a blur for a while. I remember RescueMike asking if a certain room was available - one of only two Labor, Delivery, and Recovery rooms in the hospital. It was and so we had the room we wanted.

We got settled in and they told me I would not be allowed to leave the bed except to go to the bathroom. I was disappointed because I had hoped to labor walking around and give birth in a squatting-type position. Instead, they stopped my labor (now I know it wasn't real labor, just a symptom of the high blood pressure) and gave me a sleeping pill to help me sleep. I was so out of it, I barely remember her coming back in at about 6am to give me something to soften the cervix. Then later they gave me pitocen to start the labor. At some point I was also started on Magnesium Sulfate to help prevent seizures. I remember they had to increased to dose of pitocen at some point because the labor was not really going yet.

The contractions really got going at some point late in the morning. RescueMike, my mom, my little sister, and one of my friends were all there. I kinda viewed the birth as a spectator sport! (Still do) I don't remember much of the real labor - I was really out of it, feeling very disconnected. I was asleep between all the contractions and was only conscious for the pain. Toward the end, I was forgetting to breath. I don't mean forgetting how to do the "deep cleansing breathes", but between contractions I would forget to breath. At all! I remember hearing RescueMike tell me to breath, begging me to breath. It felt like I was in thick syrup, I could understand him but I was unable to get my body to obey. They started giving me oxygen since I was having so much trouble.

At some point I told whoever was standing next to me that I was having a lot of trouble not pushing. I think they had just checked me and I had not been fully dilated. My mom left for a little while (to get film?) because they said it would still be an hour or so. NOT! When I said I needed to push, I meant I needed to push now!

I guess my mom got back right as Cub was born, because we have pictures from immediately after but not during the birth. They took him to the NICU shortly after that and kept him until the next evening. That was an unbearably long time.

Next: The confusion and bitterness.