Stephanie’s story: Part two

Preeclampsia happens in 1 in 25 pregnancies and is responsible for 10-15% of maternal deaths globally. Millions of people have a preeclampsia story to tell. This is part two of Stephanie’s story, 21 years later. 

Ovia stories is a series that goes deep on a shared experience from our community.

“In 2000, my husband and I planned a trip to Cyprus when I would be 25 weeks pregnant with Nick. My doctors said it would be fine for me to travel. 

But around 22-23 weeks gestation, I started swelling. My shoes were tight and I couldn’t wear my wedding ring anymore. I wondered if this was normal. I talked to my provider and they thought things were fine. Then the day before our trip, something didn’t feel right. I called and let them know that I was nervous because of the swelling and that I didn’t feel well. 

They took me in and did some testing. I had elevated blood pressure and trace protein in my urine. They handed me a pamphlet on preeclampsia and told me to watch out for the signs. They thought I was just nervous about the upcoming trip and told me that it was safe to travel. 

I remember sitting in their office feeling really uneasy. At one point they said, ‘It would be highly unlikely for you to develop preeclampsia this early in your pregnancy.’ They were experts and it was my first pregnancy. I knew very little about preeclampsia at the time.

I felt really torn, but we decided to go. That first night in Cyprus, I was sick the entire night. In the morning my husband’s family took me to an excellent private clinic. The providers did a couple tests and diagnosed me with preeclampsia right away. They were shocked that I was told I could travel at that point in my pregnancy with signs of PE. They told me that I would not be able to travel home to the U.S. and that my baby would be born in Cyprus.

I was 25 weeks pregnant.

I was admitted to the clinic, watched like a hawk, and tested all the time. Day by day, I was gaining more and more weight because of the swelling from preeclampsia. By the end of that week, my eyes were almost swollen shut. I could just barely see the expression on the face of the gentleman who took my blood. Every day he looked more concerned.

It honestly helped that they were speaking Greek and I couldn’t understand any of it. After a week, they transferred me to a nearby hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. And the next day I had an emergency C section.”

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