The bottom falls out

by on July 31, 2013

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.

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