For 9 months, I was telling people how easy pregnancy has been for me. How I am one of the lucky ones. Well, it appeared to be smooth sailing but I had no clue what was really happening to me until my 37th week.
Everything seemed fine. I felt fine. I WAS fine and was just going about each day like normal. The only thing that was on my mind was April 12th (the original due date) which was fast approaching. Also, it’s the first day of Ramadan. Aaaaand the day all the shops open up and we get a little bit more freedom. April 12th felt like a day to look forward to.
Although I barely had any symptoms, I did notice one thing that was strange: I had swollen hands and sore joints every morning. And only in the mornings. So I would wake up with swollen fingers and then it would go back to normal once I’ve freshened up. After googling this, I saw a few articles talking about how swelling is normal in pregnancy and how sometimes, because of your sleeping position (on the side), it can cause swelling on your hands. I wasn’t too worried as pregnancy comes with that puffy look anyway so I didn’t dwell on it too much.
At the Clinic:
During my routine midwife appointment, my midwife took a blood test and urine sample to make sure everything was all good. She would also check my blood pressure. I’ve got a lovely Irish midwife (they have the best accents) who’s the same age as me, so I always enjoy chatting away with her. However, after looking at my urine sample, she was a little bit too quiet. “Hmmm, it seems like you have some protein in your urine.” Then she went back to her desk and started writing notes. We sat in silence for about 2 minutes. To be honest with you, I had no clue what was happening and found myself daydreaming until it hit me that I should probably follow up.
“Protein in my urine? What does that mean?”
She continued writing her notes whilst responding; “To be honest, do you think you could take another urine sample? I mean… it might not even be a big deal. But it’s always best to make sure we have two samples to confirm anything. I just want to send it off to the lab.”
So technically, she didn’t really tell me what was going on. She waffled around it. But ignorance was bliss for me and Irish accents have a way of making things sound not scary. My only concern was having to take a second urine sample on-demand after I had just emptied out my bladder.
“I don’t know if I have any pee left in me but I’ll give it another go,” I said and popped in the loo for the second time. And to my surprise, I did it. The most annoying thing about pregnancy (urination) really came in handy that day. I didn’t want to thank God in the toilet but I was appreciative, to say the least. I walked back into her office and we wrapped up the appointment. “If there are any concerns, I’ll send you a text with an update.”
I wasn’t too worried and as days went by, I totally forgot about the concerns surrounding my urine until I received a text on a SUNDAY. Sunday out of all days! My midwife wasn’t even working.
The Protein Lady:
The text basically told me to head over to the hospital the next day as an appointment has already been made “for further testing.” Hmm, that’s not good. Sometimes no news is good news, but my midwife actually went out of her way to message me on a Sunday morning and that gave me bad vibes. So I made my way to the hospital the very next day to take further urine tests and once again – ✨ protein ✨.
“Looooads of protein” were the words of the lady who was taking tests at the hospital. I was taken aback at the way she stretched out the word “loads“. Damn, I still didn’t know what this meant! Why is there protein in my urine!? I was in a daze.
She then told me to lay down so she could monitor the baby’s heartbeat and whilst doing so, she asked me to click on a button every time I felt the baby move. I was probably laying there for about 20-30 minutes and I clicked on the button about 7 times. I wasn’t too worried about it though, as I already knew the baby has energy at night (just like her mother) and tends to kick so much more. I wasn’t in any kind of pain so I guess I’m fine!
After a while, she says: “Go back to the desk at the front and tell them you need to have a scan to check on the baby.” It felt like a never-ending rollercoaster and each time I was told something, I kept thinking to myself: “But I feel fine!” The scan was two hours later.
Now it was time for the baby scan, and bear in mind, I had to go through all these tests alone due to COVID so my husband had to wait outside of the ward. He knew about the protein in the urine and he googled it straight away and let’s just say, he didn’t like what he saw. However, I avoided googling anything so I wouldn’t get stressed out. I laid on another hospital bed and watched the baby bounce around on the screen, and the midwife started measuring the head, stomach, organs etc.
She was also a little bit too quiet for my liking. She told me she had some concerns that the baby was measuring too small – especially the head and stomach area. So I was sent to the third floor of the hospital to speak with a doctor. ASAP. Still, l remained calm. And I felt fine.
The Doctor’s Office:
Once I reached the third floor, I found myself walking through double doors with a sign that said: “MATERNITY ASSESSMENT SUITE / BIRTH CENTRE.” ….. Birth centre?! I clocked it and just ignored any fears that I had. Nah, I’m not giving birth ANY time soon. My mum also came to the hospital once I told her that I needed to have an urgent baby scan. Now I have a worried mother and husband helplessly waiting around by the escalators. The “loooooads of protein” lady who was just downstairs walked by as I was getting my blood pressure monitored, stopped in her tracks and her face said it all. I got the vibe that she was surprised to see me there. And of course, my blood pressure was high. Another red flag.
Now it was time to see the doctor. I asked if I could have someone come in with me, and was refused. So I gave my mum and husband a little wave and walked into the doctor’s office alone knowing deep down, something wasn’t right.
A man walked in with another nurse who was told to take notes, along with the “loooooads of protein” lady. 3 people are now in a small room with me. I wondered why I couldn’t just have an extra person for support since I’m now gathered with randoms. This all seemed too intense and I felt like I needed a familiar face.
After introducing himself, the doctor went through my notes and talked about 3 main concerns: high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and the baby measuring too small. He also asked if I’ve experienced any bad headaches, blurry vision or flashing lights. I said no. I’m fine.
“So from what I’ve gathered looking at your notes, we’re suspecting pre-eclampsia. Have you ever heard of pre-eclampsia?”
I knew about it. I’ve researched enough about pregnancy over the last 8 months but never thought this would happen to me.
So what is pre-eclampsia?
Pre-eclampsia is thought to be caused by the placenta not developing properly due to a problem with the blood vessels supplying it.
The problem with the placenta means the blood supply between mother and baby is disrupted. Signals from the damaged placenta affect the mother’s blood vessels, causing high blood pressure (hypertension). The main symptom is protein in the urine. This eventually affects the growth of the baby. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby.
Before he could say anything else, I told him I’d like my mum to be in the room with me. I felt it was way too important to have someone there and I also didn’t like how they just dismissed my mum and husband at the door but were happy to have 3 people in a room with me to tell me bad news. Nope. We’re all wearing masks so let’s do this. I felt like a scared child who needed my mum. Luckily for me, they obliged and allowed my mum to come in.
Nothing prepared me for what I heard next.
“The only solution to pre-eclampsia is delivery of the baby. So you will need to be induced as it’s not safe for you or the baby to stay in the womb until 40-41 weeks. Fortunately for you, the baby is 37 weeks so she is full-term and would be fine when she’s out.”
“So… this means…“
“We’re going to induce you.“
“When? In a couple of days?“
“Today. We advise you to go home, get your hospital bag and come back.” He tried to make a light-hearted joke out of it by adding: “And please don’t run away. Make sure you come back to us!“
My heart dropped to my bum. How did we get here? I walked into this hospital thinking I was having a couple of urine tests and now I’m being told that they’ll kickstart the labour 3 weeks early? The fear of labour hit me fast and yes, all I wanted to do was go home, hide under the covers and avoid the hospital at all costs. But I had no choice. I had to either face the labour now or face consequences later.
I didn’t know how I was feeling at the time. It almost felt like it wasn’t real and that everyone around me was in a panic except for me.
That evening, we went to ASDA to pick up last-minute essentials and toiletries, grabbed my bag, and headed back to the hospital for induction.