Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ethan Part 3: Bumpy Roads

The months went on smoothly. Never being pregnant before, I wasn't sure what to expect for movement, but I did feel him moving by the 4th month. A lot of time I wondered if it was him or just muscle twitches. But then I would remember our ultrasound where he had been flipping and doing crazy moves and I only felt flutters. I figured my weight cushioned things a bit. Plus, if I laid down in a certain way and really concentrated, I could definitely feel him. Every visit we had reassured us that the heartbeat was strong and he was growing right on target.

I failed my 1 hour glucose test, but passed the 3 hour. S said it was common to fail the 1 hour and most people who do fail don't have gestation diabetes. Since my 3 hour results were perfect and I was gaining weight moderately, there was no concern. I was really trying to be good, eat right, and by my 7th month, I had only gained six pounds. S was very pleased with everything.

At my 31 week checkup, my blood pressure was up a bit, 150/90. S was very cautious and asked me tons of questions to see if I was developing any symptoms of pre-eclampsia. I had read about this condition in my What to Expect book, but never really thought I'd have to deal with it. I guess I was in denial. I knew I was overweight, but I had never had blood pressure problems before and I figured I was otherwise outside of the risk groups.

I had none of the symptoms she asked about - swelling in my hands or feet, gastric pain, severe headaches, flashing of light. She checked my reflexes, and they seemed fine. I had no protein in my urine either, which is a classic sign. Just to be careful, she sent me for the pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) lab work. This set of blood and urine tests all came back normal. Even so, S moved me to weekly visits a little earlier than planned. Also, she told me if I became a high risk patient, the doctors in the group would have to take over my case and handle the delivery.

My BP was normal for the next couple of weeks. But at my 33 week visit, my urine showed traces of protein. S checked my reflexes again and thought they seemed brisk. She sent me for a second round of PIH labs. Again, everything was fine. S wanted me to come back in two days, just for a blood pressure check. Sete's doctor, Dr. M, would be there if I needed anything.

When I went back to the office, the nurse took my blood pressure. She looked surprised and said, "I'm going to try your other arm. That doesn't seem right." She took a second reading, then went to get the doctor. Dr. M came in and the nurse told her my BP readings were 180/110 and 190/120. Dr. M told me I was to go straight to the hospital to be put on monitors. They might have to deliver the baby right away.

I was terrified. Jete was at work and I didn't have his new number with me. I had left my coat and everything back at work, not expecting more than a 10 minute check. I asked if I could go to the office just to grab my things. She said fine, but hurry.

I stopped briefly at work, explained the situation to my manager and called Jete. He met me at the hospital. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and an automatic BP cuff. They had me laying on my left side, and all of my readings were low, around 100/60. I started to wonder - maybe the nurse in the office had misread? They must just be overreacting. The baby was doing fine, and after about an hour, the nurse gave me a copy of the monitor printout. "For your baby book", she said. "So you can show him when he's older."

For the first time, I met Dr. F. He was the doctor from the group that was on call and met us at the hospital. He spoke slowly and was very kind and reassuring. He told the nurse to turn all the monitors off. The blood work they had done was fine, I wasn't spilling enough protein to be meaningful and obviously my BP was lower now. Just to be careful though, he was taking me out of work and putting me on bedrest.

We came home that night shaken but still feeling positive. Since I was almost 34 weeks, we knew the baby had a very good chance even if he had to be delivered soon. It would be better to make it to my due date, but every day earned was a bonus. I was officially high risk and would be under the care of Dr. F from now on. He would see me twice a week in the office with the goal of keeping me pregnant as long as possible. Everything should work out just fine.


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