Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Arsenal

First off, there is absolutely no known medicine or method to completely prevent pre-eclampsia from happening again. Search on the Internet and you'll find plenty of scams, herbal remedies and supposed diets. I wish there were. How easy it would be to take X or follow Y diet and be guaranteed an avoidance of this dreadful thing. That being said, it would be just as foolish to eat junk food and not aim for a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy to increase my chances.

So this is my arsenal:

  • -Low-dose aspirin: Doesn't work for everyone but has also proven to be harmless to the fetus. Works by thinning the blood to reduce chance of blood clots forming in the placenta. Many of those with pre-e get diagnosed with blood clotting disorders that contribute to the onset. Hence certain women are put on much heavier anti-coagulants like Lovenox and Heparin.

  • -Higher doses of folic acid: Some genetic mutations cause women to be unable to metabolize folic acid which causes homocysteine levels to increase which can cause stroke, pre-e and other placental complications.

  • -In addition to my regular prenatal, I am also on extra calcium, Vitamin D and take fish oil daily. Calcium deficiencies also increase the risk of pre-eclampsia.

Is all this going to guarantee me a full-term baby? No, but why not try to create optimal living conditions for the being inside? And honestly, taking "something" admittedly makes me feel like there is something I can do to feel like I have some control in this however small it may be. Ahh the power of the placebo!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our Family Announcement

(This is the note I originally posted on Facebook in December for friends and family)

Well, as some of you already know, we are expecting baby #2. What comes as such an easy decision for many (or no decision - just a fun night!) has been probably one of the toughest we have ever made. But alas, after 4+ years of thinking about it since Liam's harrowing arrival, we finally decided to try again. We look to 2010 with much hope, optimism and preparation for whatever may come.

I tend to get the same questions from concerned friends and family, so I thought I’d provide some info here for anyone interested. Most of you know, when I delivered L at 28 weeks from pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, they had told my husband my condition could be fatal. In fact, the young doctor on call was somewhat freaked out and after telling my husband I could die, rushed out of the room to page whomever he could for more advice. I was in ICU with liver and kidney failure after (what had been) a perfectly normal, boring pregnancy. No exaggeration in the above. So does it happen again? Well the stats range from 20-30% recurrence for pre-eclampsia up to 50-60% recurrence when you have it as early as I did (before 32 weeks). HELLP Syndrome runs a lower recurrence rate at 5%. Generally, if you get pre-eclampsia again, you get it less severely and later. We hope to go full-term but even getting another 4 weeks farther (32 weeks) would help lessen the odds of prematurity complications significantly.

Fortunately I go into this with excellent blood pressure, a healthy weight, and have tested negative to all of the standard blood clotting disorders and auto-immune diseases that are often associated with higher risk of pre-e.

I have a great team of doctors, and my high-risk doc heads the perinatology dept. We’re on low-dose aspirin to prevent clots in the placenta, as well as high folic acid and calcium. I’m still running (albeit very slowly) and walk at least 2 miles a day. And have already cut work back. Does this make a difference? Hard to say. Some of the women I know who had pre-e even worse than me included marathon runners, as well as some of the most mellow, relaxed moms I’ve ever known. Pre-e doesn’t strike just the obese or a certain type. Happens to anyone. Look at the Duggar woman on TLC who got it with baby #19?

Still, for us, we’re stacking the odds the best we can in our favor, and we have put every weapon we can (mentally, physically, etc) into our arsenal for baking this baby longer and without harm to my health. There’s a reasonably high chance at some point we may be on bedrest, and I admit now I will be relying on friends and family for help, given our active 4 year old! Again, last time it came out of the blue and this time we are being prepared. Not being a pessimist. Heck if we weren't optimistic we wouldn't have dared try again. But it would be foolish not to be ready.

As I told some of you, no regrets and no turning back now. And please, never any pity! I’ve learned that life without occasional hardship makes for quite a dull life, and I have been incredibly blessed with a wonderful family already. At the end of the day, it's a leap of faith but I trained for the jump.

Thanks for reading and for your well wishes, Tiffany

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why the Blog?

I hemmed and hawwed over doing a blog for weeks, but finally decided I might as well record my feelings and experiences going through a high-risk pregnancy. I'm mostly on Facebook these days, but never want to be one of thoAdd Imagese women that posts online about pregnancy incessantly, so I decided I have this forum for friends and family who DO want more of the details. And why not also maybe help other pre-eclampsia survivors plus those considering pregnancy after pre-eclampsia. Whether it's 10 folks following or 50, doesn't matter. Writing down my thoughts as I go through this journey will be cathartic regardless.

I originally developed severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome in 2005, giving birth to my son at 28 weeks, weighing just two pounds. For those interested in our story in 2005, please see this article I wrote for another blog.