When Nicole started to feel very unwell, she was initially dismissed as having anxiety. But the reality was far more dangerous.
This is Nicole’s story:
When I found out I was pregnant at 6 weeks, it was a beautiful surprise. Initially, I was overwhelmed with excitement until I realised I may suffer morning sickness, and having Emetophibia (vomit phobia) this was very worrying for me. Up until approx. 20 weeks all was well. I had only gained 3kgs and had been sick a handful of times.
But come 23 weeks, things started to change. I found that laying down at night become a real struggle. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. This went on for weeks. I had always suffered anxiety, so it made it hard for me to sometimes differentiate between anxiety and real symptoms.
By 24 weeks I had put on an insane amount of weight and had this awful lingering headache. When I saw my OB I stressed my concerns, but sadly most were chalked up to my anxiety. Things had gotten worse by 28 weeks. I went to the GP and I remember walking in crying and telling them I was dying. I was whisked out the back to a little room where I laid hooked up to a BP machine for 4 hours before I was told to go home and relax. My BP at this point was through the roof.
The next morning my headache was worse and everything was fuzzy. I noticed the white of my eyes were swollen and I could touch them. I rang the hospital and the nurse, hearing how distressed I was, demanded I call an ambulance and come in. I thought at the time she was being a bit dramatic, so I drove myself. Once I pulled up, my body started trembling out of control and I felt like death.
I managed to get myself to the maternity ward. The nurse on the counter took one look at me and demand I lay down in a birthing suite. Within minutes I was surrounded by 10 plus nurses and doctors. Within 20 minutes I was put on magnesium sulphate. My BP was 280/230 and my body was pre fitting. I had no idea what was happening. It took 7 hours until I was stable enough to go by vehicle to Monash hospital.
A scary reality
Once at Monash, I was monitored closely and told I would deliver that evening. Meanwhile, my partner, a FIFO worker, had no idea what he was coming home to. A blood test that evening indicated my kidneys were shutting down, and my BP was not stabilizing. The next day, filled with fear, I was raced off for an emergency c-section. 6 needles later, due to all the swelling from severe pre-eclampsia, the epidural finally worked.
The c-section itself went well – my baby was born and I heard a tiny little squark. Straight after, though, my body started to go into shock. Instead of one hour in recovery, it was 7 hours later I returned to my room.
The next day I was taken to the NICU to see my little girl. This was a huge eye opener. I cried so much. I was just so incredibly scared. Later that day, I was still very unwell. They placed a pick line put in my neck as no blood was able to be taken from my foot, hand or arm. The swelling was just too much.
Thankfully, my baby was doing perfect and just had to grow! She was on CPAP for 24 hours only and did incredibly well. Unfortunately, though, my body was not able to produce enough milk to breastfeed her.
A long road to recovery
Talking to the nurse that day saved our life. We were both slowly dying. The pre-eclampsia, itself, lasted months and I was on BP medication for 18 months after the birth. I had to lay sitting up for weeks, my body was so full of fluid it was drowning.
Throughout everything, I’ve learned that it is so important to always listen to your body. My baby is now 8 years old and doing perfect.
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