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Eclampsia...Nobody warned me!

1653 Views 11 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  BCmamaof6
Three months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl...6 pounds, 14 ounces. Perfect and sweet with a ton of hair. Who could ask for more, right? Well, three months later here I am still coming to terms with the fact that I can't visualize that glorious day because I had eclampsia....and although I kept insisting that I didn't feel right and that something was wrong, Nobody listened to me. I am writing this story so that any other pregnant women may learn from my mistakes in not being more persistent.

My due date was January 29, 2006. The baby dropped shortly after new years and I began going to appointments with my physician every week. While at these appointments, I noticed my weight was steadily increasing at a faster rate than before and so was my blood pressure. The nurse and doctor didn't seem alarmed so I contributed the weight to the holidays and the bp to the third trimester. Hey, I've never done this before, right? My urine began to show protein when dipped and I began to feel lousy all the time.

My physician finally began to show concern and put me on bedrest while telling me to monitor my blood pressures at home and to call if over 140/90. According to normal standards this bp is borderline for PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension). I began vomiting frequently so I called my Best Friend and birthing coach, as well as experienced EMT to stop by to check my bp; only to get a result of 160/102. I called the office and spoke with the on call dr. She told me that I had the flu and that I must be overexaggerating about my bp. Tell me, What's the point in monitoring your own at home if they aren't going to believe what you tell them?

I went in the following Tuesday, 10 days before delivery for a routine check and lab work. The protein was now up to 2+ which is a sign of preeclampsia and I had gained 6 pounds in 6 days. Why this was not cause for alarm, I do not know. The dr. sent me home howver, now wanted to see me again on Friday. Friday am, I was so sick that I didn't wear makeup or do my hair. I went to the office in sweats all the while feeling like I could faint at any moment. My bp was elevated so I was sent directly to the hospital for evaluation.

The hospital checked me, I was 3 cm and 70% effaced. However, not contracting and the baby looked great like usual. The only thing abnormal was a drop in my platelets and a bad UTI. They sent me home, this time with a 24 hour urine to collect and an antibiotic that I couldn't keep down due to vomiting. I had an appointment for a NST for Sunday and to have lab values re-checked.

On Saturday, I took in the 24 hour urine. Then Sunday we went for the NST. The baby looked great again so I was sent home with an appointment to see my dr. on Monday am. On Monday, I went to see my normal OB dr. and she reviewed my results with me. She sent me home with another 24 hour urine to be returned on Wednesday and orders for more lab results.

Come Wednesday, I was still exhausted, vomiting, and now my back was killing me for no apparant reason. I had labs drawn and I left to go get some dinner. After dinner, the back pain was so severe I could hardly walk so we went straight to the hospital. How was I to know if this was back labor? At the hospital, I contracted once every hour but since the baby still looked fine and I'd already had labs drawn, I go home.

Thursday, My mother came to stay to help my sister and I out since I wasn't feeling well and there were preparations to make. My Best Friend and her family came over that night to have pizza. I began contracting hard during dinner but they stopped spontaneously. At 3 am Friday morning, I awoke with a painful contraction. They were 10 minutes apart, then went to every 5, then by 6 am they were every 3. I called the office and the same on call dr. I'd had problems with earlier called me back. I explained to her my situation and she told me to continue timing another hour before heading into the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 am on Friday, January 20, 2006. My mom had called and had my Dad meet us before we rode in. My sister and my Best Friend were both there to coach me. They put me in a little observation room, had me put on a gown and placed me on the monitor. There I waited in labor for 2 hours before the doctor came in to see me and check to see if I was dilating. I was 4 cm and 90% effaced. They finally admitted me and moved me to a delivery room.

My labor progressed steadily however my blood pressure was continually increasing throughout labor. They gave me Nubain to help me relax and hopefully lower my bp, It relaxed me but didn't help my pressure. Then came the epidural when I was dilated to 7 cm. My water still hadn't broke on its own so I had AROM. At 4:18 pm, after only 13 minutes of pushing I gave birth to a beautiful girl.

They allowed my family to come in and hold the baby while I recovered. We took pictures and I relaxed. Two hours after delivery, My family went to the waiting room while they got me up to use the restroom and shower. I remember trying to look at my cell phone shortly before standing and asking my sister How it broke because the screen was all scrambled. I couldn't focus my eyes enough to see the screen. I told my nurse that my vision was blurred. We got up and in the bathroom, I lost complete control of my body. I could hear my nurse giving me instructions but I couldn't move. That's all I remember. I then went unconcious and began to have eclamptic seizures. I stopped breathing and turned blue. They called a code on me, and my family stood in the hallway watching all the doctors, nurses, and staff run into my room.

I woke up later in the ICU with a whole team of medical professionals working on me. They brought my daughter in to me before they took her to the nursery for her assessment, However I couldn't hold her only look. An hour later, a nurse came in to tell me that my daughter had stopped breathing and turned blue while she was in the nursery so she was taken to the NICU for evaluation. She was diagnosed with a blood infection that she got from me as a result of the bladder infection I'd had. I couldn't get rid of it because I was vomiting up all the antibiotics.

I am telling this story because I strongly feel that this could have been prevented. I am thankful because my daughter and I are both okay however this experience caused me to miss out on the first week of my daughter's life. Also, a day that should have been pure joy for my family and I will forever be in our memories as one of the scariest. I have since learned that seizure IS the definition of eclampsia, and that seizure activity if happening BEFORE delivery can result in fetal death. I had severe pre-eclampsia which went undiagnosed and should bave been treated weeks before I delivered. I was full term and could have safely been induced. Please listen to your bodies...If you don't feel right INSIST on being treated immediately. It could mean the life of you and your baby!
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Wow that is so horrible that they didnt take u seriously. I had Pre E with this last pg thankfully it didnt get as bad as urs tho. I was under a very watchfull mw tho.
I am so sorry you had to go through that
Very glad that both you and babe are ok though! Thank you for sharing your story.
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*hugs* I had a similar experience with my dd only I got severe pre-e + HELLP syndrome instead of eclampsia because my OB didn't take me seriously. Thankfully I'm seeing a peri this pregnancy and he seems to be on top of things. Have you considered filing a complaint with the medical board for negligence against the OB?
Oh how awful.
I have a good friend who recently had a scary pre-e experience as well. Her bp was not 140/90, but it was HIGH FOR HER. She was swollen up like a balloon and had protein in her urine. They didn't pay attention because her bp wasn't 140/90 though. She tends to have very low bp normally, so even though she wasn't 140/90, she was still very much high bp.

They induced her at 37 weeks because baby was measuring 42 weeks (ended up being 6 lbs 8 oz). I think that mistake probably saved her and her baby's life. A week after the birth, she started having problems breathing - it was her heart. They rehospitalized her, and then discovered that she had pre-e! And thanks to the heart and bp meds, she ended up not being able to breastfeed, something she really wanted to do. She tried and tried, but between having to use formula while on dangerous-for-baby heart meds, and then having low milk supply due to bp meds, it just didn't work out.

I just can't believe so many doctors can ignore obvious signs of pre-e! I'm glad you and your baby are ok, and I hope that any future pregnancies you have will go better than this! It's just so amazing that doctors will hound you about things like checking for Down's Syndrome, yet be totally oblivious to signs of pre-e. When I JUST had protein in my urine at 20 weeks last time, my midwife double checked my bp and checked for any swelling (I had none at all), and then she determined that I needed to drink more water (which turned out to be the cause). But she FIRST checked for pre-e. And at 28 weeks, she started me on 2-week appts. (usually starts that at 32 weeks) because she wanted to monitor my bp closely after we'd had a high reading earlier in pregnancy. It just sickens me to hear that some OBs aren't paying attention to such life-threatening conditions. Oh, and my friend was seeing an OB that TEACHES. He has residents under him learning his every move. You would think they'd be more clued in to these things.

Again, I'm so sorry your experience was so bad. I totally agree - listen to your body, and if something isn't right, MAKE THEM LISTEN.
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I want to ditto the sentiment of thank you for sharing your story. I've known the symptoms of pre-eclampsia, but as a list of symptoms they seem so general and vague. Your story has really made sense of it for me -- it was one of the unknowns I feared, and now I feel like I understand it enough to recognize it.

I'm so sorry, too, that this happened to you. What's the point of having an OB if they don't take medical indicators seriously! Have you let them know how badly they screwed up? If not, maybe you should write a letter -- they sound so impersonal that they may not realize how badly negligent they were, like the on-call doctor thinking you exaggerated your BP and that sort of thing (that part of the story in particular made my blood boil!). Also, I think you can report stuff like this to ACOG, the hospital you delivered at, the AMA, etc. in an effort to keep it from happening to other people.
I'm sorry to hear of your birth experience. I had the same preeclampsia progressed to HELLP with my first (but the second I didn't - and had a homebirth to boot). I hope the next, if you want a next, will be more pleasant. Your docs should go back to med school. Seriously. Is this at a really rural hospital or something? Your warning signs were so obviously there.

We do have a thread here that USED to be a sticky on the "I'm Pregnant" board called Pre-Eclampsia Watchdog On the Loose to help warn women about the danger signs. It's been moved to Pregnancy resources, I don't know why.
I am SO SO SO sorry this happened to you!!!! This should have been preventable!!!! Others may not agree with this...I don't want to be flamed, but I would consider speaking with an attorney, if I were you. The doctors should be following protocols based on criteria.

Thanks for sharing for other mothers-to-be!

I had post-partum pre-eclampsia/HELLP syndrome 8 months ago after a home birth. I was lying at home suffering and nobody could figure out why I had the worst headache and abdominal pain postpartum. I had hemorrhaged very badly. I had to drive myself to the ER finally. They wanted to do a spinal tap!!! People are very unaware of eclampsia after the birth. It is generally assumed that the mother is safe after delivery. NOT TRUE!!!!! Eclampsia can occur up to 2 weeks after delivery.

I am still healing from this...I think it takes quite a bit of processing to deal with. I hope that your healing is well underway. I am so glad that you and your sweet baby are well!!!!

Bless you--
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I'm sorry you had that experience. I actually had an eclamptic seizure during labor (my birth story is here), so I know how difficult it is to deal with a traumatic birth. I hope you can keep processing and find peace with it. My dd's 1st birthday is coming up, and I find it hard to deal with some of the memories, even now.

I remember people telling me, "well, the important thing is you're both okay." And that may be the most important thing, but it's not the only important thing. Give yourself time to heal - it sounds like you are putting your anger to good use by getting the word out about pre-e, and that you are taking time to grieve the loss of the birth you wanted.

Best of luck mama. Enjoy your new little one!
thank you for posting your story - it sounded very frightening for you and your family
I'm so sorry that the "professionals" ignored your symptoms. Thank goodness you & your baby are okay! Thank you for sharing your birth story. Hopefully it will help others to recognize warning signs of pre-eclampsia.
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