I was blessed to have a fairly uneventful pregnancy – aside from an ER visit early on at around 14 weeks due to severe stomach pain (which resulted in a doctor-recommendation of Colace… that’s a totally different and embarrassing story) – I went to my visits, dealt with the occasional swollen feet and back discomfort, but was overall very healthy… up until I reached the 34th week.
As I was sitting at my desk at work, I suddenly felt dizziness that wouldn’t subside. I couldn’t concentrate. I tried to ignore it and push through, assuming it was just an unpleasant new symptom of pregnancy. Later that evening, I felt an extreme exhaustion that was new. I just didn’t feel like it was normal. I stopped at the grocery store to take my blood pressure reading, mostly because I had drank tons of water and couldn’t think of any other reason for this feeling… 150s/90s. My normal reading had been 110/70 throughout pregnancy. Knowing that those grocery store measures could be inaccurate, I stopped at my mom’s on the way home and used her cuff… same readings. I called the after-hours line and was directed to call as soon as the office opened the next morning.
Bright and early, Corey and I made our way in for an appointment. When the nurse took my reading, my BP had reached 160/100… the doctor never even came into the room – instead, she sent me directly to triage for monitoring. There, I had an ultrasound – everything looked good, but the tech said she could not see Grace ‘practicing’ to breathe. Maternal Fetal Medicine would need to come in to do another ultrasound – thankfully, this ultrasound showed Grace breathing. The next few hours, I was hooked up to a stress test and my blood pressure reading was taken every 30 minutes. I received the first of 2 steroid shots to help mature Grace’s lungs, should I have to be induced. My BP came down with rest. I’d also need to do a 24-hour urine collection to test for preeclampsia. 10 hours later, I was discharged with instructions to lay on my left side through the weekend, and come back to the Heart the next morning for the second steroid shot.
The day after, we dropped off the urine hold, which Corey carried out to the car. Could this seemingly unimportant and semi-gross little tidbit be left untold in this story? Probably. But it also made me realize how helpless, vulnerable, and how any sense of pride or modesty that I had would need to be pushed aside. It also reminded me of my husbands selflessness, humility, and love for me.
When I followed up with my OB on the following Monday morning, after a weekend of rest, my blood pressure was again sky-high. The first thing our doctor said to me was, “You’re done working.” Immediately my heart began racing thinking of all of the loose ends I still wanted to tie up at the office… not to mention a presentation I was scheduled to give to the marketing team of a celebrity’s makeup line that week. Thankfully, my 24-hour hold came back clear and I did not have preeclampsia… BUT again, I was sent to the hospital for more monitoring. My blood pressure came down again with rest, but an ultrasound showed low amniotic fluid. Thus began a 2-3x per week appointment schedule between MFM and my OB – checking my BP, baby’s heart rate with countless stress tests, and amniotic fluid levels – which thankfully stayed on “the low side of normal” which was not ideal but was normal, nonetheless.
Throughout the following weeks, my blood pressure would range from 130/80 to 160/100. Because I was having average readings a few times per day, I was not put on any medications to lower it for fear that it would drop TOO low which would have been dangerous as well.
I’ve been asked so many times what I did during 4 full weeks of prescribed bed rest. When I was pregnant, I would daydream about naps. Like most pregnant ladies, I craved sleep… and a day of doing nothing. Let me tell you, bed rest was great for the very first day… and maybe half of the second day. After that, it was pure torture. So here is what I did:
- I watched a lot of TV: Catfish, Teen Mom, Law & Order: SVU, This Is Us.
- I read a book: Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn.
- I pinned on my phone… but you’d be surprised how quickly that gets boring.
- I read gossip magazines.
- I packed our hospital bags VERY slowly. If you’re interested in what I packed, click here.
- I put conditioning treatments in my hair.
- I ordered stuff from Amazon that we did not need: a bluetooth speaker, the I Know What You Did Last Summer DVD collector set, motion sensor lights, and an eye pillow.
- I scrapbooked – until my blood pressure went up from sitting upright… yes, it was that sensitive.
- I ate… and I mean ate. I gained 18 pounds (on top of the 50 I had already gained…) during those 4 weeks.
But mostly, each day involved sleeping, praying, talking to Grace, and wondering what she would look like, and wondering if today would be the day.
I talk about it lightly now, but it was the scariest time of my life. I had no control of anything, and gosh I worried, and the more I worried, the higher my BP would rise. I reread the same two verses over and over again:
He who started a good work in you will carry it to completion.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.
And God did help us. He was so faithful to us. I worried for Grace, and Corey put on a brave face but he would later tell me how scared he was for me.
Each week at the doctor’s office, there would be talk of inducing the following week, but we all were determined to keep Grace in my belly as long as possible. At my 38-week appointment, I was 1cm dilated and 70% effaced. The doctor said she saw no reason to keep me pregnant past 39 weeks, so we scheduled my induction for November 24th – Black Friday.