Being pregnant with my second baby I was looking forward to embracing my pregnancy and the belly that goes with it. My pregnancy was relatively uneventful and I went to all my regular appointments. I was being cared for by my local hospital’s midwife group as my first pregnancy was classed low risk although I was induced at 40weeks with the onset signs of Toxemia. At that stage this meant little to me but now it means everything.
I spent my time while pregnant at home with my son Mason as it was the last 6months before he went to big school. I did feel unwell with visual disturbances and pain under my ribs but always put it down to ‘being pregnant’ , so I took some time to rest, drink more water and hoped it would pass.
In early January 2006 I went to my midwives appointment as scheduled. I was supposed to have a regular check up and have my glucose test. I was also moving from the area so I was also there to pick up my notes. I had my regular check up and was feeling quite tired due to travelling just a day before and a restless night sleep. The midwife took my BP and quickly asked me to do a urine sample. The midwife took me up to maternity examination room where I was checked by another midwife and also an obstetrician. I was advised I would stay in over night and be monitored.
The hospital started to ask questions about my history and I told them of my mother and how she had a 34 weeker due to kidney problems; they became very interested in this information. I went on to tell them how she ended up on dialysis and in the last few years had just had a kidney transplant. They became increasingly interested and asked for the details of my mother and her doctor. They had all her notes sent to them and the decision was made for me to be sent to a major hospital the next day. I had 2 injections of steroids before being transferred. I think I was told my condition was pre eclampsia then but it is a blur, I didn’t really understand what was happening.
The next day I was sent by road ambulance and spent the next 3 days at the hospital seeing an army of obstetricians, renal doctors and neonates. I became increasingly worse but it was a game of how my welfare was managed apposed to my baby girls. It was decided on the 5th of January on renal’s advice that we should wait the extra day to give the baby girl some extra time. That night I thought my life was going to end. It started with a pain high under my ribs. I was given medication but nothing would stop it, the onset was very fast. Everything felt like it was rushing by as I zoned in and out through the pain, it’s hard to put into words. The midwives looking after me were caught off guard and rushed me to the birthing suit where I was consumed with the pain. Time lapsed between me zoning in and out and the pain being so bad; I didn’t know what was going on around me. I was given endone, pethadine, morphine and magnesium and was stabilized over night.
I was taken to have a c-section early the next morning where I was put under a general anaesthetic and had a main line put in. My daughter was born at 27+5 weighing 861 grams on the 6/1/06. She was admitted to NICU and I was taken to ICU where I continued to be hypertensive. I was monitored and became stable under the excellent care of the hospital. I spent 2 days in ICU and have little recollection of what went on. My husband Adrian tells me I desperately wanted to see my baby girl but the medical team didn’t want to risk me going if I was not well enough. I was finally moved to delivery for the next 24hours. I remained on BP medication during my time in hospital.
The very first time I was wheeled in on my bed to see Airlie was a surreal moment. Sarah McLachaln’s Angels was playing in the NICU and I just remember thinking this tiny one was mine. I spent a total of 6 days in hospital after Airlie was born. I stayed on BP meds for a week after leaving maternity and when I went for check up with the renal specialist 3-4months later, there was no evidence at all that I had even suffered from PE or HELLP syndrome. Airlie spent 8 weeks in hospital.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones. To have walked away has made me feel incredibly fortunate. I have shed many tears for those babies who have been lost due to these conditions. It is not acceptable to have this happening and I don’t want my daughter to face this if she chooses to have children. Writing this has been incredibly hard since I don’t remember much of it. Thinking back brings back the uneasy feelings of how scared I felt and how out of control it really was. We can all chose to move on and we can all chose to live our lives. But we also chose to teach others of the symptoms so they understand the signs and get help.
Airlie is now an amazing girl of 19 months (16months corrected). I feel she was given to me as a life lesson, a gift to help others. The past babies lost to this won’t be taken in vain. Airlie and I promise we will do everything we can to provide more people with the information we should be all receiving.
Airlie Fae 27+5 due to PE and HELLPS 861grams
16 months (13 corrected) April 2007