Swollen feet, swollen toes, & preeclampsia

If you ask any woman that was pregnant during the summer months she’ll probably tell you that it was record setting hot, muggy, and the longest and worst heat wave since they could remember. But seriously, that is how the summer of 2012 was! When the month of July rolled around I was 31 weeks, or just starting my 8th month, and it was SCORTCHING! Now, don’t get me wrong, I would rather take the heat over the cold but not this extreme. You’re probably thinking to yourself I am being dramatic and it really wasn’t that bad but here is what the NOAA had to say about the summer, particularly July, of 2012:

In more than 117 years of records, July 2012 stands alone as not only the hottest July on record in the lower 48 United States, but also the hottest of any month on record in that time span. To put it another way, July 2012 was the hottest of more than 1,400 months that we’ve gone through since 1895.
The report released by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that July 2012 surpassed the previous record hottest month set in July 1936. That year was during the middle of the very dry and hot Dust Bowl era. Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro says, “Exceeding July 1936 at the peak of the Dust Bowl heat — is BIG.”

Ok so you get my point. It was awful. That’s why when my ankles disappeared, my toes turned into little sausages, and I had some serious pitting on the tops of my feet people kept saying it was because of the heat. I tried everything, support stockings, keeping my feet elevated, drinking water and lots of it (110+ ounces/day), eating less sodium and more watermelon, and soaking my feet in Epsom salt. Nothing worked. At this point my blood pressure slowly started creeping up which to me was annoying. I have always been a fitness buff and had great blood pressure. I ran a 5K race at 28 weeks and was lifting and running up until the day before I was admitted to the hospital in August. I don’t like when things seem “unhealthy” with my body.

When Brian and I were home for my 30th birthday around the 4th of July, my mother-in-law Marcy took my blood pressure and it was above normal. She questioned if my OB was concerned at all and I told her they were watching it but they didn’t seem overly worried about it. At the end of July I was meeting Brian for lunch at our local grocery store and they have a pharmacy there. Something told me to go take my blood pressure and sure enough it was in the worrisome range of a pregnant woman. I left a message for my OB and they called me back 2 hours later asking me to come in so she could check on baby and take it again.

When I got there, they found baby’s heartbeat which sounded great. They took my BP again and it was actually higher than the first time. They instructed me to move onto my left side and they would check it again in 10 minutes. 10 minutes came and went and after the re-check it hadn’t moved. At that point the OB came in and said they were going to admit me for a few hours to take some readings and monitor baby to make sure she wasn’t in any stress.

So up to L&D I went (Brian was on his way). They hooked me and my belly up to a bunch of monitors and machines. As soon as they placed the sensors on my belly to listen for Makenzie she would wiggle out of her position into a new one, that right there should have told me she was going to have a mind of her own (boy, does she ever)! They monitored me for 2 hours and told me I was having significant contractions (or Braxton hicks) every 3 minutes. Finally, my BP started to go down and the contractions weren’t so close together. They released me, placing me on bed rest for a few days and I had to do a protein test which would help determine if I was developing any preeclampsia. Basically, I had to collect every single drop of pee for the next 24 hours. At that time, the preeclampsia test came back negative… at least for the time being.

Fast forward 3 weeks to August 14th. I was at work that morning rocking my leggings, tunic, and slippers. Yes, slippers. (I know, super work appropriate) My poor little, eeer I mean big, feet were not coming CLOSE to fitting into any shoe that I owned, including my workout shoes. (I had to start wearing my Diesel Velcro shoes to workout, great support for my already huge nonexistent ankles…) I was finishing up some work when I looked at the clock and realized I needed to head out for my 36 week appointment.

I was excited for the appointment. I had been having a lot of Braxton hick’s contractions and was curious if they were going to check to see if I had started to make any progress. (Side note: How one can be excited about being checked I have no idea, it’s so uncomfortable. When they checked me at 33 weeks I thought to myself, good God if this is what labor feels like I am in big trouble). As I pulled into the parking lot I found a close parking spot, I was just waiting for the person to pull out of the spot. When they did, they somewhat blocked me from entering it right away and in that same amount of time a woman who CLEARLY saw I was waiting for it snuck right in. BAD MOVE LADY. I’m pregnant. I’m hot. My feet hurt. And most importantly I am dealing with a body full of pregnant hormones. I seriously sprinted to catch up to her after I parked. Just so my seething stare would burn the back of her head. She knew what she did and I think she felt bad about it. Funny enough she went right into the same OB office as I was… Thankfully for her, the staring didn’t last too long; they called me in right away.

First things first, time to check weight. I had gained close to 8 pounds since the week before, which is another indication of preeclampsia, sudden and rapid weight gain. And if you were to press the tops of my feet, a pretty little indentation would appear and would not go away. They found baby’s heartbeat which sounded great and then took my bp. It was high. Scary high. They immediately sent me upstairs to L&D. Same story as 3 weeks ago, they hooked me up, hooked baby up and they wanted to take readings for the next 2-3 hours to see what my blood pressure was doing. This time, it never went down and they told me to get comfortable because I was going to stay there over night until my 24 hour protein results came back… My OB informed me that at that point, whether the results came back positive or not, I was going to be on permanent bed rest until the baby came and that no matter what, she would not let me go past 38 weeks. 24 hours later the test came back positive and all signs pointed to preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.

HELLP Syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication and is usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth. HELLP= H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells), EL (Elevated liver enzymes) and LP (low platelet count). At this point, my OB gave us 3 options:

1- It was 6:00 pm on Wednesday evening; they would allow me to shower and eat something light and start inducing me at 9:00 pm that night.
2- Wait another day to see if my blood pressure would go down all the while remaining in the hospital on strict bedrest.
3- If I decided to wait and my blood pressure did go down, I could try to stick it out another week in the hospital until I hit 37 weeks to ensure baby’s lungs were stronger.

Brian and I decided to induce labor that night. There was no point in waiting and potentially causing stress to our little girl or letting the preeclampsia get worse. After all, the only “cure” for it is to have the baby. Talk about eye opening. Just yesterday I was pissed off because some lady took a parking spot and today my OB was explaining to me that they would give me Magnesium Sulfate should I start to have seizures.

And so began Makenzie’s birth story…

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