Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

Why I Walk ~ Rae

on March 13, 2013


14 years ago I almost died.

I know that sounds dramatic. Usually I say I got sick and my baby was born a little  early.
BUT, 14 years ago I did almost die.

I did everything right; I formulated every last detail. I dated my husband for 3 years before we married. We waited another 3 years for our first child. I planned my delivery for April, the perfect teacher pregnancy schedule, because I would get 5 months off with the baby. I gave up my one vice, soda, for my child’s wellbeing.

If I had a girl, she would be named “Audrey Rose” because of my admiration of Audrey Hepburn and my love of reading (there is a really twisted book titled Audrey Rose). My boy’s name would be “Blake Edward” after my father. I had it all figured out.

I wonder if God chuckled at all “MY” plans.

I was determined to be the toughest pregnant woman ever with no complaining or whining. I was not going milk my condition, because women have babies every day. I read all the books. I quietly bore the Charlie Horses. I endured the strange cravings. When I had to pull over on the freeway and open my door to hurl or dash frantically from my classroom to the bathroom, I never grumbled. I did everything the doctor told me (although someone could have warned me about the first ultrasound visit with the wand- YIKES!). I tried not to get frustrated when the sonogram was inconclusive about the baby’s gender even though I really wanted to know. As long as the baby was alright, I took it in stride. I accepted all that came with being pregnant.

I never griped at the doctor’s office either, which is why my condition almost went unnoticed. My 22 week appointment started as usual. The nurse dutifully recorded my blood pressure and weight. The doctor measured my belly and we were finished. As she walked me out, she asked how I was feeling. I exclaimed everything was great…except I was a little swollen. She told me that was normal but she decided to check how much.

You know those super cute pregnant women with adorable bellies and fashionable clothes? I was not one of them. I gained weight everywhere. I am not kidding! My ankles, face, and even my fingers became enormous. In addition, my 1998 fashion forward maternity overalls were not kind to the Pillsbury Dough Boy look alike I had become. By the middle of my pregnancy I was uncomfortably huge. I began wearing my husband’s sweatpants and tennis shoes with the laces removed.

It is never a good sign when a doctor gasps as mine did when she noticed my legs. She consulted my chart and actually read my results. My blood pressure was off the charts high and I had gained 10 pounds in 3 weeks. She had me come into her office (again not a good sign) and informed me that I was suffering from Preeclampsia, commonly known as Toxemia. She put me on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I nodded my head like I understood what she was saying. Preeclampsia meant that the baby would probably need to be born early to prevent a stroke. I nodded again and went home in a daze.

Actually, the rest of my pregnancy became one long daze as I worried about my baby’s health and progress. Here are the highlights that I remember: I had a sonogram every week and never once could the baby’s sex be revealed (the BRAT!). I continued to gain weight and looked like a character from The Nutty Professor. At 24 weeks, I had to register at two hospitals for delivery- my local hospital and the hospital nearest me that had a NICU capable of dealing with a baby born before 32 weeks. I recall each week being a milestone: 24 weeks meant the baby had a 50% chance of survival; 27 weeks meant a 95% chance of survival with intense medical support; 30 weeks meant the risks of birth defects, vision issues, and cerebral palsy decreased, but lung development would be an issue.

At 30 weeks, my blood pressure remained high and I had immobilizing headaches. My pregnancy brain felt like it was filled with fog from San Francisco. I remember thinking I should pack my hospital bag, but I could barely function. On two occasions I was nearly admitted to the hospital for inducement. Yet, every day the baby was allowed to stay in utero was another day of much needed development.

Suddenly, there was no more waiting. I was losing consciousness and Magnesium Sulfate was no longer keeping my blood pressure under control. I was on the verge of Eclampsia. My platelets were so low that if I started to bleed, I would not clot. The baby was 36 weeks old. I was admitted and my labor was induced at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

The doctor told me two “wonderful” pieces of news:
1. It could take up to 3 days for the labor to fully take hold.
2. I could have no epidural because my platelets were too low.

That was when I virtually lost my mind. No pain meds?????? UGG. I was not one of those brave women who wanted to have a natural birth. Nope, I jokingly and repeatedly asked my doctor if she could knock me out and wake me when it was over. By 6:00 am on Wednesday I was fully dilated (so much for the 3 day theory). At 9:23 am, my beautiful baby burst into this world angry and crying. There was no better sound than her shrieks.

My Audrey Rose was born 4 weeks early, weighed in at 5 pound 13 ounces, and was 19 inches long. She was small and jaundiced, but she was able to breathe on her own. Though this journey had not followed the map I made, the destination was nevertheless paradise. hospital_audrey

The medical tests and treatments Audrey and I received were developed in part by the research funded by the March of Dimes. It breaks my heart to think what would have happened to both of us if I went through this pregnancy 30 years ago. The March of Dimes impacted my life without me even knowing it or asking for it. While my case had a happy ending, there are other babies and families that need the March of Dimes to continue their important work.

Audrey is why I walk in the March for Babies campaign. Your child is why I walk. I walk so that all babies are given a fighting chance for a healthy start.

I walk because Love is a Verb and what doesn’t kill me makes me motivated.

For more information: http://www.marchofdimes.com/

To donate:


One response to “Why I Walk ~ Rae

  1. […] Saturday we participated in the March of Dimes walk. We brought our daughters to model for/with them our belief that love is an ACTION verb.  This […]


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