A Story of Pre-Eclampsia
While I’m away climbing Kilimanjaro, I thought it would be a good idea to share some stories with you to highlight why I’m raising money for Borne. One of the people I contacted was the lovely Kylie, who, due to her experiences, dedicates her time and energy to raising awareness of Pre-Eclampsia and the issues around having a premature baby. Please do check out her blog, Not Even a Bag of Sugar.
Every now and then in social media something amazing happens. Like a glamorous blogger you have admired for ages contacts you to ask you to write a guest post on her blog. Julia Boggio from I Carried A Watermelon is one of the kindest, most genuine bloggers you could meet. She explained that she is climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to raise much needed funds for the charity Borne.
Borne’s goal is to prevent disability and death in childbirth and create lifelong health for mothers and babies, through research. Borne will work with teams throughout to world to implement interventions for medical teams to save babies and mother’s lives and continue to support their good health.
This is a cause so close to my heart.
On 7th August 2009 I was due to deliver a baby. Only on the 7th August I had a baby that was already 3 months old. My son Joseph was born at 27 weeks due to severe early onset Pre Eclampsia. Like many women I knew vaguely about Pre Eclampsia, I knew it wasn’t good news, and I knew that my baby would need to be delivered at some point. I naively thought I would be monitored on bed rest.
On the 6th May 2009 I went to hospital in the wee small hours, with a headache. I had no other symptoms. The delivery suite staff took a urine sample. I had protein +++ in my urine and my blood pressure was so high they refused to tell me what it was. They took some blood tests and fairly soon after the room filled with very worried looking medics. My child would be born within days.
Once I was allocated a consultant he confirmed I was indeed very sick. My organs would shut down, and eclamptic shock was likely. He wanted to move me to a more suitable hospital but it was agreed it was too dangerous. I was close to death. Like many women with pre eclampsia I felt a little grotty and revolting but had no idea I was desperately ill.
At this point we need to pause. I was in a well-resourced hospital with highly trained medical staff, who continually phoned other hospitals for up-to-date advice. I had 24-hour care. I had the latest medications. In lower resourced countries they may have been able to save me, but probably not my child.
You see, the only cure for Pre Eclampsia is to deliver the baby. In a hospital in the UK, this isn’t desired, but it’s doable. In Mozambique, for example, far less so. They would try to get the mother further along, and the baby would probably perish. Every year worldwide 76,000 women lose their lives to Pre Eclampsia and it is estimated 500,000 babies are lost. They are staggering figures.
My son was born via elective caesarean at 10:03 on the 8th May 2009. He weighed 1lb 7oz. I didn’t see him, and in fact didn’t know he was a boy for sure for over an hour. The anaethetist (a man) when asked said, “I think I saw a willy but I couldn’t be sure”. I replied, “Well, as you own one, we will go with your expert opinion for now.” He was right, we had a boy: Joseph.
Joseph spent 10 and a half weeks in hospital, 4 of those in intensive care, then 4 in high dependency then finally in the nursery then home with us. I expressed breast milk for him, then my milk stopped flowing and he commenced on high calorie formula. He was fed via long line first, then naso gastric tube, then finally bottle. It was amazing to see him progress.
From the earliest times Joseph had character. All the doctors commented how active he was, and all of them remarked how well we had bonded. I was a fierce tiger mum, and still am. I am sure most mothers feel very protective over their baby, this was my first live baby, and my last.
Because of the care we received, and the support we found after discharge, Joseph is a happy and healthy boy and has just finished reception. He loves playing in the garden, collecting mini beasts, playing games on the iPad, and telling everyone he is going to be a doctor. He has some fine motor delay, and is taking a while to fully catch up to his peers, but nothing time and some extra assistance at school won’t sort.
As for me, severe Pre Eclampsia meant that it wasn’t safe for us to consider more children. I decided to blog about premature babies and other issues on Not Even A Bag of Sugar, and subsequently have been employed by Bliss the Special Care Baby Charity.
Having Joseph so early was frightening, isolating, exhilarating, and sad. Having Joseph early taught me to write from the heart. His birth taught me that I am incredibly blessed, that other women not only abroad, but close to home are not as fortunate.
The answers are found in research, and supporting women and babies everywhere.
Please, if you haven’t already, donate to Julia’s trek and support this amazing effort to help babies and mothers live the life they are entitled to.