According to the CDC, "Preeclampsia and eclampsia comprise the second leading cause of pregnancy-related death in the United States and the leading cause in many developing nations."
I do not have pre-eclampsia. Yet. But I have been telling people I am "dealing with pre-eclampsia." I realize now that this is completely misleading and I will explain. I have pregnancy-induced hypertension, meaning that my blood pressure is going up as my pregnancy progresses. This is one of the main symptoms of pre-eclampsia, but must be accompanied by other symptoms such as protein in my urine (which I also have, but not at "diagnostic" levels yet.) However, both of these symptoms are controllable right now if I lie down and limit my activity.
So I am living in the shadow of pre-eclampsia. It is looming over me, sneaking up from behind and I while I cannot see it yet, I know that it will eventually grab hold of me and refuse to let go until we deliver the baby. That is what PE does. There is no cure except getting the ******** placenta out of my body. With good care, PE will not progress to eclampsia (seizures and possibly coma.)
However, the blood pressure alone can harm the baby. According to the March of Dimes, "Hypertension may narrow or tighten the blood vessels in the uterus that supply the baby with oxygen and nutrients. Hypertension during pregnancy can create severe risks for both mother and baby, including:
"Health problems for the mother, such as heart attack and stroke
"Slow fetal growth and low birthweight
"Increased risk of preterm delivery
(Sorry for the bad formatting. I know it's wrong, but give me a break. This isn't a school report, I'm emotionally exhausted and have other things to do than fiddle with proper format in a blog entry.)
So here is the update. I saw the doctor today and one of my main questions for him was, "Am I over-reacting by laying down all the time?" I mean, he just said, "Watch your activity level and definitely no more exercising." I interpreted that to me I could still have a life... just a very slow-paced life.
Apparently I was wrong.
I was about to tell him how I'd checked my BP at the grocery store after dropping the twins off at preschool and he interrupted in frustration, "You're taking your kids to preschool??? Why are you doing that? You shouldn't be leaving your house!"
I then had to admit that I'd also taught Primary on Sunday and felt sicker than a dog by the evening. He said I shouldn't be going to church anymore. That is out. I shouldn't be doing grocery shopping. I shouldn't be cooking meals. I shouldn't be doing housework. I shouldn't be OUT OF MY HOUSE at all (except for appointments with him) and that I'm just lucky that he'll still let me sit up to watch TV instead of laying flat in bed for the next few months.
I started crying. I couldn't help it. I said, "I try so hard to be a compliant patient. I thought I was over-reacting by being down so much. I didn't understand!" He knows this about me and told me that I am a smart person and that if I have any other questions, I know what I should be doing even if it isn't spelled out for me. He's right. I've been through this twice and I have to get over my insecurities about "over-reacting."
My doctor, who is very chill and non-communicative most of the time, was very honest with me today. No, there's basically no chance I will deliver this baby in May. It will be April or sooner. He said he has no way of knowing right now how early the baby will be. Yes, we will be doing blood work regularly to watch for danger signs. (This is why I had to deliver Joseph early: the blood work.) Yes, there will be regular 24-hour urine collections. (Ugh.) Yes, I'll probably be spending a fair amount of time in Labor & Delivery to monitor everything (and I better just get used to it now.)
Yes, I'll probably have a magnesium sulfate drip, which alone brings me to tears. The mag sulfate made me so dizzy and delirious that I don't remember anything about Joseph's first 24 hours except the frustration that I had no idea what was going on with my newborn son, had only seen him for a few minutes and when they tried to put me in a wheelchair to visit him in the NICU, I couldn't even sit up in bed for more than a few seconds. I missed it all. The oxygen hood, the beeping machines that kept the nurses hopping over him constantly, the first bath... everything. It's a memory I'll never have with Joseph and probably not with my little girl.
I'm in a whirl of emotions right now. If I'm lucky enough to keep this baby inside me full-term, I am staring at over two months of bed rest. I've been "taking it easy" for one week and I'm so bored and lonely and stir-crazy and frustrated that I want to scream. If you think it's "relaxing" to not worry about housework or cooking, you haven't been through this. Is it relaxing to watch my husband come home from a long day at work and have to immediately start making dinner, cleaning up, getting kids ready for bed, cleaning up more so he never gets a break at all? Seriously? No, I feel like crap that he suddenly has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The kids are already getting tense and high-strung without the normal routine of Mom taking care of things for them. Is it "relaxing" to MAKE my children spend hours every day in front of a computer screen or TV screen because I CANNOT referee creative play? No, it feels like crap. I know I signed up for this and it's an important thing and will be WORTH it, but I still feel like such a failure when I can't give my children what they need. They need stability, discipline, boundaries and routine to feel safe and cared-for. I can see the craziness in their eyes already at being given so much responsibility and so much freedom.
I asked the OB if I could go to my son's baptism in March. He thought about it and said, "Move it to May. This baby will definitely be here in May and it'll be okay to wait a couple months. Move it to June if you're worried about it." Is that relaxing to tell my son, who has been looking forward to baptism for years, that he can't be baptized? No, actually, that is a burden that I don't want to have right now.
I read two books yesterday. Two. Entire. Books. That's fun, but honestly, it gets boring to sit and stare at a book all day for TWO OR THREE MONTHS. My wrists hurt from holding the books. My back hurts from staying in one position for so long. I can't sleep anymore because I'm not being active. My OB says not to worry about it, because my body doesn't NEED that sleep while I'm lying down. But no, it's not relaxing to wake up at 4:30 a.m. on a regular basis and stare at the ceiling for hours in hopes that I'll fall back asleep. That is one of my own personal hells. I hate it.
Okay, deep breaths. We'll summarize.
I'm bored to tears.
I'm so lonely from being alone all day long, even after my husband comes home (because he has to be taking care of the children and housework.)
I'll get over it.
In a couple hours, I'll be embarrassed that I was so worked up over something that is temporary, manageable and being carefully overseen by an excellent physician.
My feelings are perfectly valid, but I wish I wasn't so emotional. I wish I was like my sister-in-law, Tiffani, who is so stoic and upbeat about having dangerously low amniotic fluid levels and her baby having the cord around its' neck (twice, I think). I'm sure she has concerns and frustrations, but she quietly manages them alone and never stops smiling when she talks about it with me. I want to be her when I grow up.
And that's the update. I would go back to check for typos (which are frequent with me... I think "there" and type "their" instead, or leave out entire words, or phrases or.) But I'm tired. And I have to go lie down. And read a book. Or watch TV. And try to feel lucky that I am not doing housework or cooking meals, even though that's all I want to be doing right now.