Myra Faye Turner, Writer
I remember it like it was yesterday.
"If we don't take that baby right now, one of three things will happen. Either you're going to die, the baby's going to die, or both of you are going to die."
That was nearly fifteen years ago when I received this bleak diagnosis. Stinging tears flowed down my face as I stared at the concerned but nonetheless stranger. I was scared and I wanted my own doctor. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2000. I had been in the hospital since Friday.
My first pregnancy had been fairly uneventful for a woman of "advanced maternal age", a term for women who give birth after the age of 35. I had turned 36 in April. My blood pressure was high, but was being controlled with medication. I had minimal morning sickness. I suffered from fatigue, collapsing on the sofa each day after work. I had a voracious appetite. I fainted twice but that was heat-related. Trust me, you don't want to be pregnant in New Orleans in the summer!
Because of my age and blood pressure, my doctor sent me to a clinic for high risk pregnancies for a "Level 3 Ultrasound". Wow, Level 3. Sounds scary right? Basically, it could determine if my baby was at risk for birth defects earlier than a regular ultrasound. I also found out I was having a boy.
"You see that thing right here? That's a penis," the doctor told me. I think I scared the poor resident accompanying her (it was her first day) when I started crying because I wanted a girl.
A few days later, my doctor recommended an amniocentesis based on one of the test results. My "numbers" predicted the baby might have Down's Syndrome but I could also have a miscarriage from the procedure. I was 36 and this was maybe my last chance to have a baby. So I declined.
The next few months flew by as I planned for Tyler's arrival. Yes, I named him as soon as I found out I was having a boy. He barely moved during the day, but yikes he was extremely active at 3 a.m. !
In October I started feeling extremely fatigued, hot and thirsty as a traveler lost in the Sahara Desert. I had trouble breathing. My lab work during my doctor visits was always favorable. My doctor assured me as soon as the baby dropped , I would breath easier. So I waddled on.
The week before Thanksgiving there was a bug going around in my office. When I became ill, I figured I had gotten bitten too. By Friday I was seriously feeling "off". I made it to work but immediately had to leave.
I spent the next seven days in bed. I couldn't eat or sleep. I felt like I was on fire. I already had an appointment at the hospital the day after Thanksgiving so I figured I would get help then. The plan going forward was to see my doctor one day each week for a routine check-up and the following day I would go to the hospital for a few hours for additional monitoring. This would continue until I went in labor because of my "at-risk" pregnancy status.
November 24, 2000 was a cold, wet day. I arrived at the hospital still feeling sick. Imagine my surprise when the nurse told me I was in labor! I wasn't due for another six weeks. I was having contractions but didn't feel them. My blood pressure was extremely high. When I had a contraction, Tyler's heart rate dropped.
My doctor was out of town until Monday, so the plan was to see if they could halt the contractions. The rest of Friday and Saturday was a blur of activity. I was poked prodded and monitored. They brought in a heart specialist because of concerns I might have a stroke or heart attack. They wanted to give me medication to help Tyler's lungs but couldn't because of my pressure. After estimating Tyler probably would weigh around 6 pounds, they felt he had a better chance if they took him so they could get me stabilized.
Which brings me back to November 26. After crying for a few minutes, I told the doctor I would have the emergency C-section. That was at 8 a.m. At 1:36 p.m. I gave birth to a healthy 7 pound, 2 ounce baby. The doctor predicted Tyler could have weighed 9 pounds or more full term!
Tyler was born physically healthy and mentally strong. In a few months, my blood pressure stabilized. My blood sugar levels, which shot up due to a case of undiagnosed gestational diabetes, returned to normal.
Today Tyler is your typical, teen who spends too much time texting, won't pick up his dirty clothes off the floor and generally drives me nuts. But I'm grateful we both survived.