October 12, 2023 By Mikayla Kauffman-Sarrault
In some ways, I wish my preeclampsia story were a bit lengthier. That is, I wish I had some warning or knew my baby would be born at 34 and a half weeks. But unfortunately, that was not my experience.
It was a Tuesday just like any other. I started the day at work and had my dreaded NST, where I sat in a chair for 30 minutes doing basically nothing. I didn’t walk into that office thinking it would be my last appointment pregnant with my son. My induction had already been moved up to when I was 36 weeks as I had developed Cholestasis but that wasn’t for another week and a half. But anyways, your heart beat kept accelerating and didn’t come down so they sent me to triage for further evaluation. At this point, I knew in my gut that something was wrong but I kept fighting these thoughts because I was only 34 weeks pregnant with you. You were coming next week, which was soon enough. The midwife reassured me that you were fine but decided to run some labs to be certain.
Less than 20 minutes later I heard the voice of the doctor and resident down the hall and I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, they arrived to my bedside with wide eyes. They shared that my liver enzymes were dangerously high and that if I didn’t get induced, my organs would be in danger of failing. I only ever considered that I’d get induced for you, not to potentially save my life. Up until now, I’d ‘only’ had Cholestasis and Gestational Diabetes and could see the midwife. At this point, they decided the physicians would take over my care due to the complexity of my case. I remember feeling so envious of the women who got to have a low-intervention birth. The birth of my son was nothing like I imagined. The obligatory mag-drip was the least of my worries.
After about a day in labor, I FINALLY decided to get the epidural. I got a little bit of relief before your heart started decelerating. I remember feeling oddly calm as the team flipped me in all sorts of positions. From the beginning, they were all very confident and proved their competence as professionals. After a few minutes of these position changes, I remember asking “Do I need a c-section?” to the resident with uncertainty on her face who was standing bedside. I don’t remember what happened next but I do know something changed and a swarm of people came rushing in as your dad started changing into surgical scrubs. As they ran me into the OR the only thing I could think about was your safety. We knew you’d be in the NICU but what if you never made it there? We had already come face-to-face with the worst possible scenario through our niece’s neonatal deaths. I vocalized these concerns to the Anesthetist who assured me you would be born and remain, alive. After the anxiety of losing you from day one, I found this to be especially reassuring. After what felt like two seconds, I heard the doctor say ‘happy birthday’ and saw your tiny (but large for a preemie) body. You were here and had the loudest cry- hooray for steroids! I only got to see you for about 10 seconds before they whisked you away to the NICU, which was so hard for my new mama heart. After two hours in recovery, I finally got to see you AND hold you. It was the most beautiful moment. I realized then how all of this really was worth it. How every outfit change, emotional outburst, vomited meal, sleepless night, itchy limb, finger prick was absolutely and unequivocally worth it because they all brought you to me.