Preeclampsia has affected my life in the most awful way it can. I have had preeclampsia twice now and was just moments away from a third time.
My oldest (now 11 years old) was born 3 weeks early when I developed preeclampsia. My blood pressure was being monitored throughout the pregnancy as it was elevated from early on. Toward the end of the pregnancy we began to notice a lot of swelling and I also began to spill protein in my urine indicating that my kidneys were not functioning as they should. The only "cure" to preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. Riley was great and other than some jaundice issues, she had no other problems from being born a bit early.
My pregnancy with Kelsi was an entirely different story. My blood pressure began to rise around 16 weeks. We monitored it and I was told that I was at a higher risk for developing it once again. I knew some of the things to watch out for, things like headaches, vision changes, swelling and higher blood pressure. At 22 weeks my blood pressure got into the range of 150/100's and I was started on a blood pressure medication. Even with the meds it never really brought it down much. The doctors continued to monitor me closely. I was totally naive though as I had thought that when the doctors told me I might get preeclampsia again, it would be toward the end of the pregnancy like it was with Riley. I had no idea that I could get it at 23 weeks. But that is exactly what happened. I was admitted to the hospital the day after Christmas with a blood pressure of 170/110 and elevated liver enzymes and a baby that was severely restricted in growth. Kelsi was born just 5 days later on December 30, 2004 weighing only 13oz and a tiny 8 1/2" long. Our Sweet Kelsi lived just 2 1/2 short days and passed away in my hands on January 1st, 2005.
Luckily I was blessed above all others and Kate was born only 4 weeks early with no sign of preeclampsia at all. Truly a miracle, especially when you consider what happened in my next pregnancy.
As you all know, my pregnancy with Kiari was anything but routine. She was a surprise from the beginning. Now, most of you that read this blog know all about the transfusions and things we went through due to the Rh Antibody. But what you may not realize is that she was not born 2 1/2 months early due to the Rh Antibody issues. The morning I went in for the 5th intrauterine transfusion my amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low. Prior to that my blood pressure had risen. I had begun spilling protein in my urine and my liver enzymes had begun to rise. Preeclampsia was looming. The only thing that kept me from going into preeclampsia this time was the fact that my doctor delivered my baby 10 weeks early. Had he not done that, it is most sure that I would have had a severe case of PE within days, if not hours.
The majority of the babies in the NICU during Kiari's stay were born early due to preeclampsia.
I have met some of the most amazing women through the preeclampsia foundation. While PE has been horrible in my life, it has also been a source of goodness. It has made me realize what is really important in life. It has allowed me to help others as they go through their journey of grief and loss. But the one thing that I cannot do is give others hope that it won't happen to them. Pregnancy is not a joyful thing for me. It is a very frightening and fearful thing for me. As much as I would like to be delighted for others in their pregnancy, I fear for them too. Even a healthy pregnancy can take a very dangerous turn in just a matter of hours.
Because of all I have been through I have done what I can to help raise awareness for the Preeclampsia foundation. I have made numerous pieces of jewelry for them to action off at fundraisers. 2 years ago I was honored as an artist when they asked me to design a piece that they could present to survivors at their annual fundraising gala's.
|Preeclampsia Awareness Pin - Designed by Artist Melissa Muir|
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to work in the studio of another amazing artist. It was a fun day and I created a necklace for myself.
Both the pin and t-shirt posted above can be purchased through the Preeclampsia Foundation Marketplace. The pin makes a great gift, just as a beautiful piece of art even if the wearer doesn't know the significance behind the piece.
Thank you for allowing me to share a cause that is very important in my life. As I said May is the Preeclampsia Awareness Month. There are numerous Walks being held throughout the United States. Please take a moment to see if there is one by you. http://www.promisewalk.org/campaign
Preeclampsia: I AM A SURVIVOR!