Here is the second part of our story with my pregnancy with Aubrey Jane. I am writing it for a couple of reasons. First, it was a big part of our story with AJ, and I want to remember the details. Second, I want to communicate that you CAN have preeclampsia AFTER giving birth even if you have had NO symptoms the entire pregnancy---actually up to 6 weeks after giving birth. We did not know this and things got a bit scary because of it. Forgive me for being lengthy, but I am a details kind of girl:).
After 5 days in the NICU, our girl was ready to come home! We were able to spend most of our time at the hospital with Aubrey Jane those 5 days while Will spent some time getting spoiled by his Mimi (Justin's Mom). It was wonderful to have her there and to get visits from Will during those 5 days. Here are some pictures of Will and Aubrey after we brought her home. He was 22 months and really not sure about what to do with her. As you can see in one of the pics, he thought her head was an appropriate place to drive his cars. What a silly guy!
To back track just a bit, while in the hospital recovering from my C-section, my back really started hurting. My C-section really wasn't too bad; I was up walking to the NICU the day after and really wasn't in a lot of pain. Because I wanted to be as aware as possible with AJ in the NICU, I decided to quit taking the pain pills pretty early on and stick to the high dose of NSAIDS (Advil type medicine) they had me on to relieve the pain a bit. I didn't want to be loopy at all. We have a super funny story about how I nearly fell asleep and out of the wheel chair the first time I really got to meet Will in the NICU--seriously like a drunk person. I didn't want a repeat performance:). Anyway, as I would complain to the nurses, I showed them exactly where I was hurting-- both sides of my back about half way up. One joked with me and asked if I was nervous that it was my kidneys. I laughed and told her it had crossed my mind; she quickly told me that wasn't possible, and it was just muscular. Before the doctor medically discharged me, he told me it was probably just muscular from the C-section and to just stay on my steady dose of NSAIDS.
As the days progressed the csection was getting better and better, but my back was getting SO. MUCH. WORSE. I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance and tried to just carry on, but it was terrible. Nothing seemed to make the pain go away, and I really started to worry the anesthesiologist had somehow messed up my spinal block, and I would forever be in chronic pain due to nerve damage:). The excitement of taking Aubrey home was somewhat clouded by how much pain I was in.
We brought AJ home Tuesday, and by Wednesday my mother in law and I decided it was time to go and figure out what in the world was going on with my back. I was the last appointment of the day at 4:30 with the doctor who had preformed my C-section--yes, the one who was fresh out of residency. My blood pressure was elevated- like 150/95. When they rechecked it my bottom number went down a bit, and the top number being high was attributed to me being in pain. After examining me, my doctor decided it was just muscular again and prescribed me some muscle relaxers. I mentioned I was the last appt of the day because I feel like it was one of the ways I somewhat fell through the cracks of the medical system. My doctor was rushed trying to get out, as I heard her talking to the nurses in the hallway about her evening plans:). They did do a pee test, and I did have protein in my urine, which is a symptom of preeclampsia and a side effect of having a baby:). I feel like had I been with the same doctor the whole pregnancy, they would have been a bit more cautious with my history. But, without that relationship and her really looking at my history, all my symptoms could be explained away as something minor.
At this point, I was in so much pain I started to ask my nurse friends and doctor friends some questions, texting all my best friends for prayers, and basically lived in the fetal position--you know when not taking care of a new born:). One of my nurse friends told me high doses of NSAIDS can cause ulcers which can cause pain in the back. I IMMEDIATELY quit taking them and switched to Tylenol Wednesday night. Thursday I actually felt some relief. My muscle relaxers didn't seem to make much of a difference, but I could definitely tell the pain wasn't as sharp. I really thought I had been developing an ulcer and stopping the NSAIDS was the answer.
Justin's youngest brother and dad got in Thursday evening. By Friday I was back in so much pain- so much for the ulcer theory. I have a blood pressure cuff at home because of my preeclampsia with Will and decided I should take it Friday about 6ish. When I did, it was around 165/110. I immediately knew that was bad. I called the doctor's office and got an after hour's nurse. She talked to me and told me I should be fine to wait until Monday, and that I should go to the ER only if my bp got up to 180/120. I felt somewhat relieved and got off the phone. As the night progressed, I started to wonder if something more was going on. I called again and asked if there was anyway she could talk to the doctor on call to see if I could get the blood pressure medicine I used when I had Will prescribed to get me through the weekend. I also told her again I had a history of preeclampsia. I had to specifically ask the nurse to do this, and she sounded a bit hesitant to call the doctor. I definitely learned you have to be your own advocate.
After about 10 minutes, she called me back and told me the doctor on call from my office wanted me to go to the ER immediately and that I would be seen as soon as I got there. So, with tears I packed a bag, changed quickly, said good bye to my kiddos, and headed off to the ER. Again, God was SO good that this happened after Justin's mom, dad, and brother were all in Charlotte. We got to the ER and were immediately taken into a triage room where my bp was taken and quite a bit of blood work was drawn. At this opint my bp was 180/120. The ER doctor was so nice and thought we were dealing with a slight case of preeclampsia, if that, and we would hopefully be able to go home that night. Within the hour, he came back with some results that surprised him immensely. All my labs had come back as he thought besides my kidney function test. My creatnin level during pregnancy was around .5, which is where is should be, but the labwork indicated my new levels were 4.3. He was extremely surprised because I looked and acted pretty normal. He said I was very sick and would be admitted immediately with Acute Kidney Failure.
So, with that announcement, an IV was put in as well as a catheter.....umm..not much warning on that one, and I was wheeled to the high risk OB part of the hospital. Justin and I joke that we got to see all OB areas in the hospital. From there, I was placed on Magnesium Sulfate to make sure I didn't have seizures from the preeclampsia and a kidney doctor was called down since my kidney function was so poor and that is not the general way preeclampsia works.
After a few tests, it was determined I did have preeclampsia that was made worse due to the amount of NSAIDS I had been taking. NSAIDS are filtered through the kidneys, and it can clog up the kidneys if they aren't working well. As my doctor brother said, "It was the perfect storm for my kidneys to tank." Because my kidneys weren't filtering well, my magnesium sulfate levels got too high, and they had to quit giving it to me to allow my body to process it out. My doctor joked that it was like I had mag patch on since it was just staying in my system on its own. Magnesium makes you feel like you have the flu and just very icky. Because of that and my kidney function, we had to leave Aubrey at home with Justin's family. Basically, the remedy for me to get better was to keep me on the mag to make sure I didn't have seizures while my body worked through the preeclampsia and to flush fluids in me to try and help my kidneys get all the bad stuff out....at least I think that is why they had me pumped full of a saline drip for 3 days and measured every drop of pee that came out of me:).
We were there from Friday to Monday evening. I came home still technically in kidney failure, but as the kidney doctor said, it would just take time for mine to heal. He was fully confident that everything would bounce back in several months, and they did just as he said. Praise the Lord! Dr. Booth, my OB doctor (not the one who delivered AJ), said she had never seen preeclampsia work this way in her 14 years of practice, and I had about a 1 in 450,000 chances of this happening. Lovely.
There are some neat details that God worked out in all of this. I want to list them out, so we can remember His faithfulness in the small things.
1. Justin's whole family was here to watch sweet Will and newborn Aubrey Jane. They were able to run back and forth and get pumped milk. Mimi and Drew tag teamed Will, and Pop was playing mom to a newborn. I know Pop and AJ will always have a special bond because of those several days. Justin was able to be with me at the hospital, and we both knew our children were very well taken care of.
2. The OB doctor on call Friday night was a seasoned doctor who was my doctor the appt I had a preeclamsia scare. She was very thorough then and was on the cautious side of things. Dr. Booth was very on top of things and was extremely comforting and knowledgeable. She took over as my Dr. from that point forward and took care of things. She said that anyone would have missed my diagnosis as my previous Dr. had that Wednesday because it is just so unusual. That did make us feel a bit better about it:).
3. My nurse friend told me to STOP taking the NSAIDS, which I did Wednesday night. I went into the ER Friday night and my kidneys were in failure. This was without me taking those pills for a day and a half. I truly believe it could have been SO much worse had I not stopped taking that medicine the minute I did.
4. The kidney doctor that we saw was ABSOLUTELY wonderful. He answered my millions of questions and was so kind. Dr. Booth said he was the one nephrologist she would have wanted to be on call that weekend as well. I saw Dr. Woolwine for a few months after we went home as my kidneys were still healing, and he referred me to his wife to be my general Dr. I have had some thyroid issues, and his wife, Dr. Amy Woolwine, has been SO wonderful. Cannot emphasize how much caring doctors can impact a patient.
5. Our sweet friend Suzy from church was a nurse in the NICU when AJ was in there, and then she was my nurse one of the nights I was in the high risk section. We had only been in Charlotte about 2 months, so we didn't know a lot of people. Suzy was a familiar face and was so encouraging. I was so grateful God placed her smiling face in both of those places.
6. Our new church family and Sunday school class totally took care of our needs as far as meals and prayer goes. We were checked on often and felt very loved.
We were beyond grateful that God took care of our children and our needs in so many ways. It is always good to look back and remember God's faithfulness in life's situations. Here are a few pictures of Aubrey Jane as she hung out with her Pop for a few days:).
I got to come home on Halloween night. No trick or treating went on in our home. Ha. Here is a picture of the kids in their Halloween gear. Will never really wore his costume Halloween night, but this is what he was supposed to be. Unfortunately, this is the only picture of Will the dinosaur, which Aubrey is in since she was still in my belly when I took it.
Whew!!! So, that is the story of my preeclampsia AFTER having Aubrey Jane. It is not that common, but it DOES happen, and it can be very dangerous when it does since no one is really looking for it anymore. I am beyond grateful we caught it when we did. I learned some valuable lessons through it. I really learned you have to be your own advocate with medical issues. Doctors are just like everyone else and mistakes and oversights occur. My brother is in his residency, and I in no way want to be disrespectful towards doctors. I truly have the upmost respect for them, and I have seen all the sacrifices my brother and sister-in-law have made in their journey. I just think it is wise to be on top of your health and be aware of what is going on:). The Lord gives us wisdom and discernment, and I believe we are to pray that He would help us use those things in all of life's situations.
With all that said, Aubrey Jane is our last biological child:). I have about a 60-75% chance of this happening again with another baby. We are BEYOND blessed that my preeclampsia occurred at 35 weeks with Will and after I had Aubrey. In many cases, it happens earlier in the pregnancy and the only solution is deliver the baby. We feel like through doctor's advice and prayer, the Lord made it pretty clear we were done. Justin and I are currently in the process of praying about when and how God wants to use us in adopting a child. We are not set on a timeframe or ANY details, but we both do feel a strong call to adopt sometime in our future; we just have NO IDEA what that will look like.