I am honored to present this guest post from another Orange County Mom - Meredith Drews. Just a warning... you are going to want to have tissues ready. Thank you Meredith for sharing your story!
I am the mother of four—but I only get to kiss two of my children goodnight. I have two boys, Thomas and Henry, and two daughters, Bridget and Elsie. Thomas is five, plays t-ball, gymnastics and thinks Justin Beiber is cool. Henry is two, adores his big brother, loves Mickey Mouse and is talking like crazy. Bridget and Elsie died an hour after they were both born. They should be three years old.
It was my second pregnancy and we were shocked with spontaneous twins. Once the surprise wore off, we adjusted to the idea and to the never-ending question: “Do twins run in your family?”
My twenty week ultrasound came and went… in this time we’d learned the twins were both girls; we’d just picked out names, the excitement was building, the reality settling in. Two weeks or so after my “grand” ultrasound I went back to my OB for a check-up. We did growth checks at each appointment and the girls’ heads had grown in two weeks, but not their stomachs. My doctor was concerned and sent me home on bedrest for two weeks. I never made it that far.
A little more than a week later I called my doctor at 5 am in the morning. I asked to come in and she said absolutely—call the office as soon as it opens, so I did and got an afternoon appointment. Around 10 am I called again and said I didn’t feel right: could I come in sooner? They said yes. I left the house around noon. I wasn’t swelling. I thought maybe I had “floaters” in my eyes. My urine was dark. I was bruising on my legs. I’d had a nose bleed a few days earlier that I had trouble stopping. There was no pain under my right ribcage, but I had had a pain in my right shoulder for nearly a week.
When I got to the doctor, I knew preeclampsia could be a concern because of the visual disturbances. My blood pressure was higher. I was spilling protein in my urine. My doctor sent me to the hospital and things went from bad to horrific. I was told I had preeclampsia and would be in the hospital at least a week. I was 24 weeks the next day at this point. Then my doctor and MFM came in the room. He delivered the bad news… I was very, very sick. I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome (which I had NEVER heard of). I needed to deliver right away. If we chose to deliver cesarean, it would give the girls the best shot, but be very risky to me. I could bleed to death with my platelets in the 16,000 range. I could deliver vaginally and not attempt to save my daughters.
I had to call my husband over the phone with this news and we agreed the best thing to do would be to deliver vaginally, not risk all three of us and leaving behind our oldest son without his mother. From then, every kick I felt inside me was gut-wrenching knowing these little babies I’d tried so hard to keep safe were dying. Unable to have an epidural, I felt every push of labor, heard all the crying in the room from doctors and nurses and from my husband and me. We heard a deafening silence from our baby girls.
We held our daughters in our arms as they died.
I couldn’t believe this had happened to me. I still can’t. I recovered in the hospital another five days and went home to my computer and the internet. I searched for information and when I typed into Google, out came the Preeclampsia Foundation. I found information and support which helped me stayed informed through my third pregnancy just three months after we lost our girls. In time, I have found a place and means to give my daughters’ one hour of life each a great meaning in the volunteer work I do because of our experience.
On May 14th we will hold the second annual Promise Walk for Preeclampsia at the Lakeside Lagoon in Irvine. Organizing this walk is the only way I have left to be a mommy to my girls. This is their legacy. I may never be able to watch them cross the stage as they accept their high school diplomas or walk down the aisle to be married, but each year I will see all the people at our walk. We will come together to raise funds, awareness and to support each other and our shared experiences. For information on registering or donating, please go here.
I will never understand why this had to happen, but I someday hope to know what happened to cause my body to betray me like that. I want to know how it happened and how others can prevent it. Really… I want my baby girls back… but I’m very blessed to have my own health and my sweet, perfect two little boys—both born completely preeclampsia-free.