Monday, May 21, 2012

A Fine Line

Trigger warning: This post includes talk of the loss of a child.The last thing I want to do is add to the pain of bereaved mothers. Please use your own discretion.

One of the hardest things about treating preeclampsia is that it involves two patients, mother and child. The only cure is birth. But what if PE strikes before baby is ready to be born? How do you balance the needs of the mother with the needs of the baby?

If PE strikes after 37 weeks, it's a fairly easy decision. At that point, baby will most likely do fine. But before that point, it becomes a very fine line in staying pregnant long enough to give the baby the best possible chance while not endangering the mother. There comes a point, though, where Mom is sick enough, baby won't be any better off inside than out.

I got just a small taste of that decision. When I was diagnosed in my first pregnancy at 35 weeks, I was already too sick to wait. It was very hard for me to know my baby had to be born prematurely because of me. I would gladly have risked my life for her benefit, but at that point it wouldn't have helped her. My body was shutting down; she would have been oxygen-deprived as my lungs shut down and exposed to the toxins as my liver shut down. Her best chance was birth, just as mine was. Thankfully, at 35 weeks her chances were very good. She did spend time in the NICU, but did really well all things considered.

I had another small taste when I was diagnosed with PIH at 22 weeks with my twins. I knew the average time from diagnosis to delivery is 2 weeks. How does one prepare for the decision to induce labor at an age where only 10% of babies survive? Thank God, I was a slow progresser that time. I carried my twins an astounding 14 weeks after diagnosis, and they were born very healthy. I know how miraculous that is, and I don't take it for granted.

In my time on the Preeclampsia Foundation's forums, I've seen cases of mothers who had to give birth very early, including several who lost their babies. My own experience pales in comparison to these heartbreaking cases. I can only imagine the pain those mothers felt. I've also seen cases where the mother died, their relatives reaching out for help to understand what happened.

That is why I am raising money for the Preeclampsia Foundation, to find a way to end these horrible conditions. No mother should have to say goodbye to her baby. No mother should have to face these kinds of decisions, walking the fine line between giving birth too soon or too late. If you would like to join me, details of my fundraiser are here.

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