I started my pregnancy with Chronic high blood pressure. We knew that I might have it more difficult then someone who did not have this condition. BOY WERE WE IN FOR A 9TREAT!!
I attended all my ante natal appointments at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong. At my very first appointment my blood pressure was so high that I immediately got upgraded to be seen by the Professor Tam, Wing Hung. He is the head responsible for the maternal medicine and high risk obstetrics in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. His research interests are Gestational diabetes, thyroid disorder and hypertensive disorder.
Add in my case a twin pregnancy on top, and I became priority case no one for all my appointments every two weeks. Professor Tam explained the risk in our situation. It was hard to hear the stark detail of what could happen to me and my unborn babies. Somehow through his expertise, calm nature, ever-increasing medication, support from my husband, we managed to keep both babies and me safe and out of hospital. We literally worked with this pregnancy day by day. Praying and hoping we will make it to 28 weeks. This gestation will increase the chances of survival to 80%. I always had an emergency admission letter on me, just in case!
We managed till 24 weeks. Early that morning I woke up feeling uncomfortable, with pressure on my lower abdomen and just out of sorts most of the day. I thought it might be because the boys were getting to heavy. Later that day we decided that it was better to go to the hospital. The nurse took my blood pressure and it was an unbelievable 190/128. I got admitted immediately!!!!
Risks of high blood pressure during pregnancy: Pre-term labor, not enough nutrients to the babies, slow development, placenta abruption or worse!
For the next few days it was a race against time to control my blood pressure and keeping the babies inside. First thing they gave me was steroid injections to mature the babies lungs. I had the PEDIATRICIAN to explain the risks of my babies if they born before 28 weeks. Their biggest concern is the Brain, lungs, heart and digestive system. The Dr was gentle and thorough. To prepare you for all which might happen he reassured me that they will do everything they can, but if for any reason they can not. They will allow my babies to slip away peacefully!! I WAS LITERALLY IN PIECES! I cried my eyes out, but I could not carry on like that because I could feel my blood pressure rising. I called Graham and he come over to the hospital. Comforting and supportive, the guy that had to be strong enough for both of us. My hero in my darkest moments!
We clawed our way to week twenty-eight slowly and surely. I became institutionalized, I became familiar with my surroundings, the routines, the comfort of my pink hospital uniform, the pain on the faces on the moms going into labor, the shuffling of the nurses white shoes on the tile floors, but I could not control my anxiety for the blood pressure machine. My heart would leap into my throat, my chest almost exploding. The nurses come around on time to measure my blood pressure; ten times a day for that matter.
My mom arrived in Hong Kong, reducing the stress Graham was under going to work and keeping up with me. She made things easier for both of us. My everyday home cook meals, fattened me up a bit and got the nurses curious about the foods from Botswana. To the extend where she cook mince meat, magwinya and morogo (African spinach) for them.
Every Monday I had an ultrasound to check the progress of the babies. They were growing, active and keeping the ultrasound technician on her toes, if she were just a second to slow to press the button to take the image, she had to wait again. It was great to see the smile of little pleasure on her face, amused by my boys! To me that means I can keep my babies safe and tugged away inside me for another week.
With all the 24 hour urine, blood, ultrasounds test and medication rationing, we discovered that I also have high calcium in my blood! I had an ultrasound done on my neck, near the thyroid glands and they the found on each side an enlarged parathyroids glands. For this I got ENDOCRINOLOGY TEAM AND THE DIETITIAN involved to control the Calcium. Since I am pregnant not much can be done but to manage it.
I was basically under the influence of drugs 24/7. One day out of nowhere I met a mom standing at my bedside looking at me, she asked me what I am in for. “high blood pressure” I said. Than just before she left to go and have her C-section, she said “listen to meditation music it will calm you down” EUREKA!!!!
My daily medication:
Nifidiphine 20mg x3
Methyldopa 500mg x 4
Labetalol 200mg x3
Aspirin 100mg x1
After she left I open YouTube and typed in meditation music to lower blood pressure. This is a guided meditation that helped me to calm down. I would tugged myself in bed with my earphones plugged in, closed my eyes and immersed myself into this strange music, clearing my mind, falling in infinity! It was just peaceful for that moment. Thirty minutes later the nurse came to do my reading and it’s perfect. I than went ahead and asked her for my blood pressure time schedule, thirty minutes before my next reading I would go lie down and listen to my music, and every time she come around for my turn my B/P was normal. This was my second biggest achievement. My blood pressure, with the medication and the meditation, was perfect.
IT IS WEEK 28!!!!!!! WE MADE IT! I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!!!
From week 28 to week 31/5 days, we had ultrasounds every Mondays, but on one occasion the Dr saw the blood supply was moving away from the babies. My placenta was getting lazy. This means that they will not get enough nutrients to grow! We prepared again, just in case they came. I got my second batch of steroids to mature babies lungs. This normally give a seven-day window. Every time when there was something going wrong, I would call on our prayer angels. I felt their prayers, good thoughts, support and encouragement! These few souls that knew my situation prayed and I would get another week, keeping my babies safe! I do not think that I could go through all this and not trust in my FAITH in GOD! Seven days later the ultrasound shows babies gaining weight and everything seems good for the time being.
We started doing more CARDIOTOCOGRAPHY: The CTC measures the baby’s heart rate. At the same time also monitors the contractions in the womb (uterus). CTC is used both before the birth and during labor, to monitor the baby for any distress and to see how it is coping. During one of many scan’s one of the babies heart rate dropped a few times. Everyone panicked and within minutes I am changed into delivery gown, two cannulas in my hand and wheeled downstairs to the delivery room observation. At that time my husband and Mom was just getting ready go into the cinema room. I called them ….. “It is time, please come” Graham came into the room, waiting to hear what will happen next. Four hours passed, lying with this machine attached to my stomach. The Dr came eventually, she said that babies heart beats are stable. I can go back up stairs! Arriving back at ward seven, the nurses all cheered..”Welcome back, we missed you already!” Regardless of all my drama with my pregnancy, I was happy, blissful, at home in this hospital. People always asked me ” How can you be this happy, are you not depressed being stuck here. NOT EVEN ONCE, DID I FEEL SORRY FOR MYSELF HERE!! I am about to become a mom, and moms do whatever it takes to protect your children. This was my home, I felt safe, cared for and entertained by the nurses and doctors.
The weekend ended. The morning of 9 MAY 2016 arrived. It is Monday morning time for my routine ultrasound check up. “OK that’s us done, the babies will come this week.” said the Dr.
Excited I went back to my bed, called Graham and told him the news. I started peeling the egg on my breakfast tray that I was absolutely drooling over, I could not peel it fast enough to stuff it into my mouth!! It kinda felt like a slow motion scene from a movie! As I open my mouth to taste this GOLDEN EGG, the Dr just came around the corner! ” Don’t eat that! Your babies are coming now! she shouted ….But I really needed to eat this egg! hahaha
I was mentally prepared for these monkeys to arrive now, as we got ready again. This time at least I know the drill. I said my final good byes to the nurses. I felt sad and excited with this new development.
AT 3PM I GOT WHEELED INTO THE DELIVERY ROOM, It was a busy place, the Dr and her assistants, two sets of PEDIATRICIANS, two ANESTHETISTS. Because of my high blood pressure and high calcium in my blood and it being a premature birth these Dr’s had their work cut our for them now! The anesthetics whispered in my ear “You will not believe the level of expertise around you now, specially handpicked for you!” I felt so honored for the care that this girl from BOTSWANA was getting here in Hong Kong!!
To Professor Tam, his extended A Team and nurses we are forever grateful to you all. For the excellent care and devotion you put into our health and well being!!!!!THANK YOU!!!