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Preeclampsia Awareness Day Special Story: “Preeclampsia changed my life.”

New mom, Tiffany Boston, tells us about her experience this past year with preeclampsia. Her son was born this past November at 27 weeks, following a diagnosis of preeclampsia.

Tell us about your early days in your pregnancy...

My pregnancy right from day one was not easy. I had extreme morning sickness. It never got better. At about 17 weeks I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum, put on medication to control it and was able to some what function. I had random high blood pressure readings right from my first trimester, but then my next reading would be perfect.

When did you first learn you may be at risk for pre-eclampsia and what symptoms were you experiencing?

At one point very early in my second trimester I heard “preeclampsia” for the first time and I instantly thought, “Well, I’m not swollen, so why would they think that?” Looking back, I am thankful my midwife was on top of it. I think it made a difference in my quick diagnosis and care.

Can you tell us a bit more about how your pregnancy progressed?

As my pregnancy progressed past 20 weeks, I was feeling sicker than ever. Every day life was so draining. On Monday, October 28, 2019, I worked 10 hours. At the end of my shift, I was swollen and had pitting edema. The next day at work, my body felt so heavy and I was throwing up, although I was on medication to help reduce my sickness. That Wednesday, my blood pressure was checked, and it was perfect at 125/80. The midwife dipped my urine to assess protein levels and it was slightly elevated. Friday, November 1, my vomiting was uncontrollable. I met my midwife at triage. My blood pressure was extremely high, and I was started on medication right away. My urine was also showing triple the amount of proteins compared to the test two days before.

I was officially diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and was admitted to the hospital. My care was transferred from my midwife to an obstetrician. I stayed in the hospital for six days and was then discharged home.

Two days later my morning home care nurse came to check my blood pressure and she sent me back to the hospital. I was informed my son would likely be born early. On November 12, I was informed my organs were failing and I’ll never forget my doctor’s words, “We need to push your body as far as we possibly can to allow your baby to grow”. Little did I know we would have less than 24 hours before my baby would be born. I hadn’t slept properly for 12 days, so I left the hospital to go home to get some rest. Not long after returning home, I told my mother something was wrong, so my parents took me back to the hospital, although I had no new or worsening symptoms. The only difference was I felt like I had to use the washroom every twenty minutes. I suddenly experienced Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) and was taken to labour and delivery for further assessment. When I arrived at labour and delivery, I was throwing up and suddenly I could not hear or see and had a seizure. When I was alert, they informed me they were running additional tests to assess the baby’s readiness for delivery and I was taken into an operating room, where my son was born by c-section at 27 weeks – 13 weeks early!

What symptoms did you experience that you want other expectant parents to be aware of?

· Pay attention to your blood pressure, which your medical team will be monitoring with you.

· Elevated protein in your urine must be closely monitored too.

· Leading up to my trip back to the hospital the only symptoms I ever experienced was mild burly vision and numb hands, never any pain

Once your baby arrived, how were you feeling?

The team I had taking care of me that night was incredible. The anesthesiologists kept me alive while pumping me with magnesium to protect my son’s brain. Scared was an understatement. My surgery itself was easy and uneventful, although it felt like it was hours. At 5:04 am my son was born and in a blink of an eye he was taken to be given life saving interventions.

After my baby was taken to the NICU, I asked anyone and everyone I saw if my baby was alive. The answer I got was “we’re working on him”. Imagine that for a second? You’re still being cared for in the operating room and you can’t do anything but wait for updates.

You have to trust. You hope and pray that everything’s going to be okay.

Tell us, how is your son doing now?

After 100 days in the hospital, my son, Knight, was discharged! Today he is thriving at 6 months old, just as many months as I carried him inside me!

Any last tips or advice for expectant parents? What advice do you give to expectant moms who are worried something is not quite right with their pregnancy?

· If you or anyone you love is pregnant, please pay attention to the blood pressure readings.

· Listen to your healthcare team.

· Don’t leave the hospital after being told your organs are failing.

· No one would ever ask to be a mom of a preemie, but if you’re lucky enough to be chosen for the job, fight! Just like your preemie! You will find strength you didn’t know you had!

· You’ll also feel weak and helpless at times, but when those feelings take over, take a look at your baby - they don’t know anything but being strong, fighting to survive and they need you!

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