February 09, 2024 By Emily Zoller
Almost 7 years ago, I had my daughter at 33 weeks and 5 days due to a sudden and severe onset of preeclampsia. Out of nowhere, I had crazy swelling and when I went to the doctor’s for my weekly appointment, they had sent me right to the hospital. After 2 days of being hooked up to magnesium and trying to induce labor, I ended up having a c-section and then my daughter, Roslyn, spent 3 weeks in the nicu after being born a 4lbs, 3 oz. It took a lot of convincing from my husband for me to even try for a 2nd child after coming to terms with the trauma I went through the first time (not remembering any of the birth, frantically turning away family from the hospital since they were trying to meet my daughter before I did, my blood pressure rising even higher after delivery, and seeing family and friends having normal births right after mine and not realizing how comments about big babies and easy deliveries could make me feel.
When I found out I was pregnant in January 2021, I was determined to do everything ‘right’ - made healthy meals, walked every day, drank tons of water, cut back my coffee. Took all of my ob-gyn’s advice, took a bunch of extra vitamins, baby aspirin at 12 weeks, and my blood pressure was fantastic every time I checked it. This pregnancy was definitely harder than the first - especially when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 24 weeks. Even though I’m terrified of blood, I faced my fear and quickly learned how to check my blood sugar. I did so much research on it - got all of the right foods, books, etc. I barely had any high readings, never needed insulin and by 33 weeks was feeling great and had only gained 10 pounds total!
Then my blood pressure started to creep up out of nowhere - I chalked it up to anxiety and nerves. I told myself it’s the same week, of course I’m just stressing! I just need to stay positive - but my doctor saw past that and said let’s do steroid shots just in case. Thank God we did - Monday, August 2, 2021 at 33 weeks and 5 days AGAIN, I was sent to the hospital for observation and then heard the words I dreaded most of all - preeclampsia and magnesium drip. I cried so hard - I couldn’t believe that once again on the same day I had to go through it all again. They said 2 days and we would deliver at 34 weeks. Two days turned into a few hours as my bloodwork the next morning showed that my liver enzymes and platelets changed dramatically overnight and they needed to do a c-section within an hour due to HELLP syndrome. Thankfully my doctor was already on her way to the hospital because she had a feeling it would change quickly when I mentioned a headache. I fully believe her quick action saved us from even further complications.
Going through the same thing again at the same time didn’t make it any easier. Having to wait over 24 hours to see my daughter, being wheeled into the same nicu again and having the nurses and security remember me, and then having my blood pressure rise even higher 2 days later, and the panic that brought with it even though I knew it would drop. I was finally discharged 6 days.
Our daughter, Lyra, was 4lbs, 9oz and thankfully only needed 2 weeks in the nicu. My blood pressure thankfully returned to normal once I got home. I cried tears of relief when I had a reading of 120/81.
I’ve tried to be a resource and source of support for my friends who have gone through the same thing. And knowing the risks I face in the future (especially with having two preterm babies and how severe it was for me both times), I’ve focused on having a healthy lifestyle. In the two years since my last pregnancy, I’ve lost 35 pounds and have focused on daily walking and yoga. And I’ve recently started running again for the first time in 2 decades. With the odds I face in the future, I need to do whatever I can to make sure I’m there for my girls. And now I'm 23 miles in to the 140/90 challenge and am determined to reach my goal!