Mercyline Chemutai and her husband are both accountants, currently working and residing in the Cayman Islands. Mercyline has had the ‘hell and back’ experiences associated with negative pregnancies and today, she and her husband open up about these experiences. This is Mercyline’s narration of this experience.
My second pregnancy was a tough one. The symptoms ranged from intense vomiting to constant sickness. Interestingly, the tougher it became, the more I valued my unborn baby. Meanwhile, I continued to religiously attend all antenatal visits. One night, at about 28 weeks, I started struggling to sleep and feeling out of breath. My husband was on an out of town work assignment. I called him and explained how I felt. He mentioned that his sister had experienced high blood pressure in pregnancy and the symptoms were more like I had described and that I shouldn’t take it lightly. At that point in my life, I had never encountered anyone with blood pressure in pregnancy and I had never taken any interest in the topic.
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After a difficult night, I woke up early and passed by a clinic to have my pressure checked. The outcome was astounding. My pressure reading was 163/118 against an expected normal reading of around 120/80. The clinician was openly alarmed. She told me to sit for few minutes then have the reading taken a second time. The repeat test was higher than the first. She instructed me to not to move, and asked me to call my family to organize for transport to pick me from the clinic to a hospital.
Since my husband was out of town, I took a taxi and headed to my gynecologist. I ended up being admitted following a diagnosis of severe preeclampsia. I had never heard of the condition before and I couldn’t fully fathom its implication. This, as the medics worked diligently at managing my pressure.
I was in hospital for three tough weeks; swollen beyond recognition, constant epigastric pain, frequent blurry vision among other complications. The pressure was never arrested. One minute I would be laughing with my family, the next they were being thrown out of the room following an alarming pressure reading. Assuming that a hospital environment was depressing, I was discharged in the hope that a home environment would help.
But two days later, I was readmitted after my condition deteriorated. A scan showed that I had developed severe ascites (liver disease), with my internal organs at risk of damage. The solution was early delivery of my baby. However, due to a number of factors, i.e. my weak state, uncertain condition of the baby in terms of ability to withstand stress, and having delivered via cesarean for my firstborn, my gynecologist suggested an operation.
A blood count at the time showed that I only had 36,000 platelets per microliter of blood against the minimum required of 150,000. In brief, if I were to be operated on, which I desperately needed to, I would literally bleed to death. To make matters worse, my blood group is O negative (O-ve), a very rare type. The doctors also mentioned that in addition to this blood being rare in the blood banks, for my purpose, they needed freshly donated blood because stored blood does not contain platelets. Frantic calls and appeals for eligible donors were made literally to all the corners of the country where we had a known contact. We were unsuccessful.
In what appeared to be an act of last resort, potentially at the expense of the baby and to save my life (this was my own analysis), the doctor gave me an assortment of tablets and through God’s grace, that night my platelet count returned to normal. I was operated on the following morning and delivered a baby boy. Later that night, I remember asking the nurses to assist me to the nursery to see my son. He was so tiny, breathing fast and fighting for his life. I asked God to heal me quickly so that I could attend to him.
Unfortunately, his lungs were underdeveloped and the hospital had no properly equipped Newborn ICU (NICU). Sadly, our dear son Brian succumbed after being alive for just 24 hours as my husband watched.
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