You know how there are some people who seem to have everything, or to whom everything seems to come so easily? I am not one of those people. While I have certainly had some triumphs and victories in my life, they seem to be short-lived or overshadowed by the fight that follows it.
I have always had to negotiate or fight for everything I’ve attained, or I’ve had to prove myself before given a chance. I wasn’t the most popular girl in school, but I was friends with those girls. I wasn’t the smartest kid in the class, but I got close. I wasn’t the best athlete or most talented singer or dancer, but I held my own and might be considered “above average” in some circumstances. The most recent fight was a few years ago with losing my job during the recession and the financial struggles that followed, including filing bankruptcy. After going through that, I finally met my life partner, and things began to fall into place. We moved in together, and a year later I found out I was pregnant – with twins. He then proposed to me at Thanksgiving. I felt as though I could FINALLY begin to enjoy life! Maybe – just maybe – the Lord wanted me to go through all that I had been through so that I could appreciate the blessings when they finally came. “Everything happens for a reason”, right? I could swallow that logic, because Lord knows I had learned a lot about myself and others, and felt I was a much better – and stronger – person for having been through it all.
Then preeclampsia happened.
If you’ve never heard of preeclampsia, it is a condition that can occur during pregnancy. I’ve seen statistics that say it happens in about 5-8% of all pregnancies. Leave it to me to fall into such a rare statistic. No one is really sure what causes preeclampsia, but they have identified some factors that tend to make some women more likely to develop preeclampsia, including having your first child after the age of 35 (check), carrying multiples (check), and having a pre-existing condition with the heart (check). So what is preeclampsia? In short, the body begins to reject the pregnancy. The condition develops after 20 weeks, and is diagnosed by sudden onset of high blood pressure and protein in the urine. From there, things can escalate very quickly and include severe swelling of the body, fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances (i.e. seeing spots or auras and/or having sensitivity to light), and even higher blood pressure and higher protein counts in the urine. If not caught soon enough, preeclampsia can escalate to full eclampsia, which includes seizures and can be potentially fatal for the mother and/or baby.
Mine was caught by doctors at 25 weeks, but in hindsight, I think I had early symptoms at about 21 weeks (the week of Thanksgiving). After 3 weeks of bedrest and missing out on much of the Christmas season, I went into the hospital on January 7th and delivered my twin girls on January 10 at 28 weeks and 1 day. Today marks two weeks since delivery, and my girls still have a long haul in the NICU. My oldest, Bella, has been doing well from day one, is breathing on her own with only a nasal cannula on minimal settings to give her a little boost of oxygen, and continues to increase her feedings of breast milk. However, my youngest baby girl, Bristol, has been struggling since about day two or three – unable to breathe on her own and relying on a jet ventilator which beats her lungs with puffs of air at a rate of about 400 breaths per minute.
Because I like to write, and because we have so many out there that are praying for us and asking for updates, I decided to begin telling my story here on my blog. Our family and friends have already been receiving updates via Facebook, but even many of them haven’t heard the whole story, or understand what preeclampsia is and what it did to me (and my new little family). Stay tuned for our story….