Eve was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia when she was 33 weeks pregnant with her first baby. She shares her story here.
Looking back, I pretty much sailed through my first pregnancy. I didn't have any morning sickness or any strange cravings. Maybe just a fair bit of pain in my back but I figured that was standard.
Watching my bump grow seems like a lifetime ago but I remember the special things. Like the first time, he kicked when I was in a really important meeting at work and I shouted out that I had just felt my baby. I remember my first maternity outfit and the first outfit we bought for our baby.
I loved the scans when I saw our first baby, it was magical. I loved my midwife appointments more. Listening to his fast heartbeat was something I cannot put into words.
After leaving work early to go to an appointment one afternoon, my easy pregnancy changed. My hands and ankles had swelled but I was 33 weeks and I didn't think anything of it. A couple more tests and a call to the hospital later, I was a bit worried. I had to go to the hospital next day to be monitored as they were worried that I was showing all the signs of pre-eclampsia.
That was my last day at work...ever. I was told to do nothing but rest. I didn't realise the gravity of it all to be honest. All I could think about was how much work I had to do, how we hadn't finished doing the nursery and that my plan to give birth in the birth centre was over. I was so gutted about that.
For the next two weeks, I had to go to the hospital every three days to be monitored, to ensure my blood levels and protein levels were not increasing. I never once thought I was in any danger, I was just gutted as this is not how I thought I would be spending my maternity leave before the baby arrived. Seems so ridiculous now.
The number of tablets I had to take and the frequency of my visits to the hospital were increasing, as was my blood pressure. I started suffering from panic attacks at night and couldn't sleep. I think all my worry was manifesting itself at night and in my dreams. It was January and we had to sleep with all windows and doors open, as I developed claustrophobia. Not your usual pregnancy symptom.
35 weeks and not going home
When I was 35 weeks, I went to the hospital for a check-up, and I had a feeling that the next time I would be going home, I would have been holding my baby. I was right. Blood pressure and protein levels were going through the roof and I had to be admitted and checked every hour. Through the night too. I was still really calm even though I was surrounded by my husband and family who were worried sick about me. The doctors were really keen to get me to 37 weeks before inducing me.
I hated being in hospital but knew it was for the best. I was 36+4 and in the morning, I'd had my blood tests and the midwife came in and said I could go home, my levels were really low. I rang my husband and told him to come and get me. I had only just put the phone down and my consultant came in. She said they had read my results wrong and they had to get my baby out today.
That is when the last 3 weeks just hit me. The sense of urgency was awful. I rang my husband and told him I wasn't coming home, I was going to be induced. The feeling of my legs turning to jelly is still something I can remember so vividly.
Fast forward a few hours and we are in the delivery suite. The number of doctors I had around me was both reassuring and worrying. Being asked every 10 minutes if I want an epidural. Telling them every 10 minutes I didn't want one. Until my husband snapped and asked them why they kept asking.
My blood pressure was dangerously high and an epidural would bring it down. So I had an epidural. Was the last thing I wanted but I had to make sure we were both safe. I was still calm and not worried about me at all. My mum came in the delivery suite. She was crying and I was wondering why she was crying. She was scared stiff about what was happening and felt so helpless.
A few hours later and a room full of midwives, doctors, consultants, our son arrived safely.
It was only afterwards, I was told the extent of it all.
Weirdly, it wasn't until I watched Downton Abbey recently when Lady Sybil died of eclampsia, and I saw my husband fill up. He told me it was such a horrific time for him worrying about me and our unborn son.
About 1000 babies die as a result of complications from pre-eclampsia every year. It is so vital that you keep up with all your appointments so you can be monitored and if you notice any swelling in your hands and feet, call your midwife.