Pre-eclampsia! Turns out that my swelling wasn’t just normal pregnancy swelling. After I gained almost 7 lb at 34 weeks, I called my doctor and went in for an unscheduled appointment on November 1 (normally they see patients just at 32 and 36 weeks). They checked my blood pressure and it was high for me – pre-pregnancy I was around 100/60, and at 34 weeks it was around 135/85, but there’s a pre-eclampsia “threshold” of 140/90 and since I didn’t cross it, the doctor wasn’t worried… until the nurse checked my urine and told us that my proteinuria was 2+. Whomp whomp – the doctor asked me to get some blood work and come back later that week.
I went back in on Friday (November 4) and we talked about my blood work results, which were all good, except for the more detailed urine test which was still high for protein. The doctor gave me a really fun activity for the weekend… a 24 hour urine protein test! I had to collect all urine for 24 hours! Good thing we didn’t have plans for Saturday… she asked me to come back in next week to check the results. She also asked that I get a blood pressure cuff to check my BP at home…
Monday (November 8) was my next appointment, and the 24 hour results showed that my proteinuria was still very high. I had given blood again when I dropped the 24 hour collection off on Sunday, and those results showed that my kidney and liver were still fine, yay! However, she asked me to continue monitoring my blood pressure at home twice a day (and to call if the readings were consistently above 140/90), and also had me schedule twice weekly nonstress tests (NSTs) for fetal monitoring.
She also started talking about inducing early… pre-eclampsia can apparently change so quickly and with such negative results for both mom and baby that the risks outweigh the benefits for extending pregnancy past 37 weeks. I asked what would need to happen to extend, and she said that we’d have to see both my BP and proteinuria improving, rather than staying where they are or getting worse. What a challenge!
I went in last week twice for nonstress tests, which were actually kind of fun. I get hooked up for 30 minutes to a fetal monitor that measures the baby’s heart rate and my contractions (if any). It’s actually very calming to hear her fast and steady heart beat! All of my NST’s have looked good, but I get my BP taken after the NST and it is creeping up… sometimes over 140/90, but then the second reading will drop to around 135/85 – same as what I find at home. I had more blood work done over the weekend in preparation for our next appointment.
In our 36 week appointment (today!), we learned that my proteinuria is getting worse (now 3+) but my kidneys/liver are doing fine. However, with both proteinuria and BP getting worse, we’re still looking at inducing at 37 weeks – NEXT WEEK! I have two more NST’s this week, will have more blood work this weekend, and then our 37 week appointment is next Tuesday. My OB hasn’t scheduled an induction, but she said it will probably have me go in sometime after she sees me next week. I’m nervous about getting induced but we got some good news today – she’s already head down and my body is starting to prepare for labor. It would be nice if I went into early labor naturally but I doubt that will happen!
To be honest, it’s frustrating to be diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, though I imagine this is how it feels for anyone with a disease/condition that is out of their control. The occurrence is so low (2-8% of women) and I don’t have any of the risk factors (except that this is my first pregnancy), and there’s nothing that I could have done to prevent it – you just get it. I am thankful that I developed it when I did, though – 34 weeks is so late in pregnancy, and it would’ve been a lot scarier if I had these symptoms at 20 or 25 or even 30 weeks.
Needless to say, it’s been a crazy few weeks! Luckily we already have just about everything ready for this baby girl’s arrival. We were able to pull my mom’s flight in – she was going to fly out on December 5 (a week before my “expected due date” on December 12) but she’s here now, and we’re so glad! I would love to be able to push out inducing past 37 weeks to give this little girl more time to grow, but it doesn’t look like that will happen because pre-eclampsia can get worse so quickly. I definitely feel well cared for by my OB so now all we can do is pray!!