July 2013

The bottom falls out

July 31, 2013

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series The Story of Bug

When we arrived at the labour and delivery triage, my blood pressure was immediately tested and I was sent to the washroom to pee in a cup. The nurse on duty checked my urine with a strip and showed me the colour on a chart. There was protein in my urine, a lot of it. It went right over my head: I was still expecting to be told everything was fine.

Then, the resident on duty, Dr C., came into the room. She explained that I had severe preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a terrifying disease of pregnancy that can lead to convulsions and coma, strokes, heart attacks. Or to HELLP syndrome, which can lead to the loss of platelets in the blood or organ failure. My life was in danger and the only cure was delivery. Dr. C. explained that the staff physician was ready to send me immediately to the OR, but that she had convinced him to give her 2 hours to get my condition under control. But that it was likely that we would be parents tonight. Two hours. Those words echoed endlessly in my mind.

Geoff sprang into project management mode, and headed off to get me admitted as well as to start informing two families around the world for each other and in very different time zones (mine in Canada, and his in Australia). I was moved to the “case room”. It was a room, next to the OR, with no windows. A nurse was within steps at all times, often sitting in the room. I was hooked up to an IV so that I could be given magnesium sulfate (an anti seizure medication), and a heartrate monitor for the baby. The door became a revolving one with different groups of doctors visiting every 10 or 15 minutes. The nurses started the first of many blood tests: so many that my arms developed a rash from the tape, and started to scab over.

And I closed my eyes and willed my blood pressure to drop.


Welcome, Pregnancy!

July 29, 2013

This entry is part 1 of 23 in the series The Story of Bug

When I got pregnant in May of 2007, it was not planned. But my husband Geoff and I were thrilled anyway. Once we adjusted to the situation, we eagerly waited for February 13th, my due date.

I found out that I was expecting just days after accepting a role in Summer Opera Lyric Theatre In Toronto. I had agreed to step in a couple of weeks before rehearsals began. So I found myself struggling with the exhaustion and nausea of early pregnancy, while trying desperately to learn and memorize pages of Handel recitative.

But after the first few weeks, the nausea and exhaustion went away. Like many mothers to be, I was obsessive about doing everything right. I didn’t take anything other than my vitamins, and was sure to attend every appointment with my low risk OB. Our worries were limited to whether I might need a Caesarian due to a fibroid, and whether our baby would be born on Valentine’s Day.

That was all to suddenly change. On November 19th, I was busy working at my contract job downtown. I was 27 weeks + 5 days pregnant. At 4:30 in the afternoon, I felt my neck tighten, much like it does when I am about to get a migraine headache. But for some reason, I knew that there was something very wrong with my pregnancy, and that I needed to get my blood pressure tested. Across the street I hurried to a clinic but they had no available appointments so I went to a drug store to test it there. If i remember correctly, the upper number was 170. I asked the pharmacist if that was high. He told me that I needed to go to the hospital and be checked out.

So Geoff (who had met me at the store) and I hopped on the subway and made our way to Mount Sinai, fully expecting to be told that everything was okay, but to go see my OB in the morning.



Wondering if tiny babies can thrive? Check out this list: many of them born long before modern neonatal advances.