My Pre-Eclampsia Journey

January 19, 2024 By Lizzie McKenna

My Pre-Eclampsia Journey

I am a pre-eclampsia survivor. Only now, two years later, am I coming to terms with what that means. The outcome could have been very different.

It began with severe migraines through early pregnancy, which became worse over time. Although being seen in hospital and told my blood pressure was high, I was sent home. Of course as a first time Mum, I had faith this was a safe decision as it had been made by medical professionals, how wrong I was.

At 20 weeks, I had a suspected TIA in pregnancy. I lost my vision, I lost my ability to speak and had severe swelling to my hands, feet and face. I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was going to die. All I could think about was my unborn baby and how we’d had so little time.

My Mother rushed me to hospital, where my blood pressure was beyond maximum levels and I was considered to be in medical crisis. The specialists kept me in hospital, pumped me full of medicine and in a time where visitors were limited due to covid19, I was left to deal with my symptoms alone. The effects of the medication were unbearable. I found that blood pressure medication in pregnancy had not changed since the 70’s as they found it hard to do clinical trials in this area. The medication was ineffective, so I was taking two lots of different medicines at once to combat my hypertension.

Thankfully I was assigned a specialist who really understood my situation and had knowledge in this area. He referred me to the fetal medicine unit, who monitored my babies growth and the blood flow through the placenta. I had a scan every other day and the hospital became my home. My Daughter was classed as IUGR and the team started to consider dates for delivery. They also told me there was too much fluid in the placenta and to prepare for the worst. No parent should ever have a conversation like this.

Unfortunately, throughout this time, I became progressively worse and although on the maximum levels of medication, my blood pressure could not be controlled.

My c-section was planned for 31 weeks as it was deemed unsafe to leave things any longer. I was given two steroid injections which were excruciatingly painful followed by a magnesium infusion on the morning of my Daughters birth. The magnesium made me really unwell and I can’t remember much because of it.

Whilst waiting to go to theatre, my Daughter was in distress and her heartbeat began to drop. I was also severely unwell and with suspected Eclampsia an emergency section was performed.

Mid section, my epidural wore off due to my BP being so high, I could feel everything. In panic, the anaesthetist gave me morphine and put me into a semi conscious state. There was no calming music, no happy pictures of our new family, just panic, chaos, noise and then silence.

My Daughter was born crying but quickly turned blue and irresponsive. A dusky colour she was placed on CPAP machine, put inside a heated bag, and taken away from me to the neonatal unit. Both in critical condition and both taken to two seperate ICU’s, my partner ran back and forth between units on either end of the hospital. This isn’t how I envisioned my babies entrance into the world. This isn’t how I wanted it to be for us, I felt numb.

Traumatic doesn’t cover it. In all my life I have never known an experience like it. I grieve my pregnancy. I grieve my birth. I grieve postpartum bliss.

The golden hour, the cup of tea and toast post birth, it’s not something I’ve experienced. Meeting my baby over 24 hours after she was born (over FaceTime) while pumping milk for her. I can’t get over it. I will never get over it.

My baby was born tiny and remained in the NICU for just shy of two months. She is a blessing and I thank God for her every single day. It’s been a tough road postpartum, I still have impaired vision and regularly suffer with migraines. I’ve been on medication for hypertension since my Daughter’s birth and have ongoing tests on my Liver.