Stephanie’s story: Part three

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 three of Stephanie’s story, 21 years later. 

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

“At the time I wanted to feel some anger, but I knew that wasn’t going to serve me or my baby. I just tried to focus on getting through the experience. I was thankful to have my husband and several of his family members there.

When I arrived at the hospital, my doctors told me that I would be going into emergency surgery the next morning. And then my memory starts to get fuzzy. I do remember them putting my arms out on the operating table before administering the anesthesia. I felt the cut of the C section without actually feeling pain. I remember them jostling me while taking the baby out, and I just kept thinking, ‘Should I be feeling this? I don’t want to be feeling this.’ And then my memory of the birth stops. 

For the next several days I was coming in and out of consciousness. They kept my hospital room dim and as quiet as possible. I remember nurses administering meds once in a while. The medicine eased my anxiety, but no one was telling me what was going on with my baby. Finally, my husband told me that our baby was alive but struggling. He looked absolutely exhausted.

When I first met Nick, almost a week had gone by. He was in an incubator on a high speed ventilator. I was in a wheelchair, so I had to stay in the observation area. My husband wheeled me up as close as I could get. I looked at Nick and he turned his head, opened his eyes, and looked toward me. It was amazing. My husband said he hadn’t ever done that before. He was incredibly tiny and fragile. He only weighed 750 grams, just over a pound and a half. 

I was very focused on giving Nick my milk, because it was all I could do for him other than giving him as much love as I could. 

The first few months of Nick’s life were excruciating. We were told that he had a 30% chance of survival. He had multiple surgeries and several specialty doctors regularly evaluating his progress. We were not able to hold him for over 3 months. 

Nick was in the NICU for just over 4 months. He had to be 2 kg to fly home, so we stayed in a hotel with him for a month until he was big enough to fly back to the U.S. We lived in Cyprus for 6 months in total — it was the end of June 2001 when we finally arrived home.

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