Pre-Eclampsia Stories - Jack and Sarah's stories

It was a year before I conceived again, but miscarried 6 weeks on. I saw this as a positive though, as I was starting to worry that I wouldn't be able to conceive naturally. About 3 months later we had a friend and her 7 month old son stay for a week, I was pregnant again within the month. I've since heard there's a Chinese proverb, that to conceive a baby, you must hold one!

I had been seeing a specialist at St George Hospital, he checked my kidneys by ultrasound and all was ok. This was before I conceived, I was relieved as I was already pregnant. I wanted to stay with him so I booked with a wonderful Ob at St George too. The difference in their attitude to my previous Ob was miles apart, I suppose given my history they were justified in treating me with kid gloves. I was put on asprin from 14 weeks and was given ultrasounds from 20 weeks to check on growth, and all went quite normally. I had a scare around 32 weeks when I lost a little blood, but other that that there was no sign of any problems. A few weeks later my BP started going up and finally, on Friday 13th 1998 my wonderful Ob delivered a very healthy 2.5kg baby boy, Jack, by emergency caesarean. Although my BP was high, there were no signs of pre-eclampsia.

A year later and at the ripe old age of 39 we made the decision that if there was going to be another child, it was now or never. We had no trouble conceiving this time with baby due in October 1999. Once again my treatment was second to none. I was monitored to 30 weeks with ultrasound and all was fine until around 32 weeks when my Ob had me start to come into the hospital each Wednesday to have thorough check-ups as my BP was starting to rise. At 36 weeks my urine was showing protein and my BP had risen to levels they weren't happy with, so I was told to pack my bags and come back in. The plan was to hold me until the following Monday for a caesarean, but when I got back to hospital that afternoon, my BP had risen further and it kept increasing so the decision was made to deliver there and then. This time delivering a healthy 2.2kg baby girl, Sarah.
When I was pregnant with Jack, people kept saying how brave I was to go through pregnancy after losing Elizabeth. I didn't see anything brave about it. I either had a baby or not. I certainly didn't think things could get much worse than they did with Elizabeth and once I'd found the best Ob and specialist around then it was all smooth sailing, (for me anyway, they were quite relieved when I had my tubes tied after Sarah was born!).

Following is a letter that I had to write to my first Ob, I really had to let him know my feelings. I got no response to the letter.

11th December 2001

Dr S,

I feel compelled to write to you to put my mind at rest.

In 1995 I was seeing you in my first pregnancy. I was due to deliver 16th April 1996. I warned you of a family history of pre-eclampsia. When my blood pressure started to rise in December, you put me on a low dose tablet. You had me come in weekly to monitor my BP which was not responding to the tablet. You went on holiday the week before Xmas, my urine showed at that time a trace of protein, I was also complaining of headaches. You told me to see my GP re my BP, I don't know why you didn't have me go to hospital for check ups, surely someone there would have been better equipped to look after a pregnant women with my family history! I rang you on 23rd December complaining that the headaches were not responding to Panadol, in short I was feeling really sick. You told me to increase the dose on the BP tablets again. On 27th December, I saw you. You didn't recognise me. My urine showed 4 plusses of protein, you had me go straight to hospital. On 31st December my kidneys started to fail and my baby was hardly moving so an emergency caesarean was performed. I had turned 25 weeks that day. The next day you came by to see me. I was in the Nursery with my husband, they were taking our little girl off life support as the doctor gave her no hope. The nurse couldn't cut the last tube, you had to do it for her.

When I got out of hospital, I rang to book my 6 week check-up. I was booked in at the normal time, which meant I had to wait for you, in the company of other new Mums with their babies. You have no idea how difficult this was on me.

It took me about 18 months to fall pregnant again. This time I was being cared for by Prof. B from St George Hospital and chose Dr D as my obstetrician. I was due to deliver in late February 1998. Dr D wrote to you in December/January to find out what kind of cut was performed in the caesarean as we had planned a trial of labour. He didn't get a response from you even though he resent the letter. I told him I would call you but in the meantime a colleague of his checked my records. I rang and left a message with your receptionist giving her my details and what I needed to know. You called me back later that day. You told me the cut was a transverse and safe to labour with, then you asked me how my little girl was going…..I would advise you to take more care with your note taking in future. When I next saw Dr D I told him what you'd told him, the hospital records actually showed that the cut was a vertical midline. My son was born by caesarean when my BP started to get too high, 2 weeks before his due date.

My next pregnancy highlighted to me the difference between the care I received from you and that of Dr D. Despite having had a relatively uneventful pregnancy with my son, I was monitored very closely again. When my BP started to rise around 30 weeks, I was put into the high-risk check-up group at Hospital and given a thorough check weekly in hospital. When protein began to show up in my urine at 36 weeks I was told to go home and pack my bag. When I was booked in that afternoon my BP had shot up from the morning and that night I had another emergency caesarean, this time safely delivering a daughter.

I would have imagined that Dr D would have been more complacent in the last pregnancy but he didn't take any risks with my baby and me. It really brought home to me how differently you view your patients. Even though I had told you of my family history, my BP was not responding to the tablets you had prescribed, I was complaining of headaches and there was a trace of protein in my urine, you went on holiday without even trying to have another obstetrician check on me. I can't believe that a hospital the size of KGV couldn't have had someone on duty over the Xmas break that you could refer me to. The reason I had chosen the first hospital, was because of the neonatal care it offered, I knew that there was a good chance that we would need this, why didn't you? And of course then we had to pay you for your "services".

I hope sending this to you eases my pain somewhat, because Dr S, Elizabeth would have been 6 years old this New Years Eve, and I still love her, miss her and wish I'd never heard your name.

Yours truly,

Jenny Andersen