Hannah's Birth Story
My fourth pregnancy was going great until about my 28th week. When I had my routine glucose screening, it was discovered that I had an abnormally low platelet level. For those who may not know, platelets are what makes your blood clot. They told me it could be for a number of reasons, including something serious like lupus or cancer. Had my blood retested and the count was normal again. My OB said I had tested positive for an antibody that was destroying my platelets but that my body was reproducing them quick enough and that we would just continue to check my blood regularly.
At around 32 weeks I noticed some little red dots on the skin on my leg and on my very stretched tummy area. Went to my regular OB appt and he said the rash was called petikeie (not sure of the spelling) and was a result of low platelets. They drew blood and said they would call if there was a problem.
My doc called first thing the next morning and instructed me to go to the hospital. My platelet count had dropped to 20,000. A normal count ranges from 120,000 to 400,000. He told me I was at risk for internal bleeding and needed to be admitted to receive an IV steroid to raise the level.
At this time reality started to hit that I really had something wrong and I was extremely worried. Worried for my unborn baby, worried for my other 3 girls at home and worried for myself! The next 3 weeks were spent taking prednisone which is an oral steroid used for many medicinal uses, one of which is to raise platelet levels. I had an ultrasound which revealed that my 4th little girl was doing fine. However, I also found out that the particular antibody I had was one that would cross the placenta. So, there was now the risk of my baby have a low platelet level which could be very dangerous at birth.
At 35 weeks I began to have a lot of regular contractions and feeling a lot of perennial pressure. Upon an examination by my OB it was confirmed that I was dilated to 4 cm. I was given meds to stop contractions and had to meet with a perinatologist about possible risks to the baby. The goal was to receive some IV treatments to raise my count to a safe level (50K) and then be induced to get this over with!
At 36 weeks, March 24th, 2000, I went in for my scheduled treatment. After 4 hrs I was finished and ready to get out of there and get ready for my scheduled baby shower that night. As I was getting dressed I noticed I was leaking some fluid. Not a gush just a trickle. I had actually been leaking a little for 2 days but was sure it was just urine leakage due to pressure. It seemed to be a little more now so I knew I needed to be safe rather than sorry and get it checked out.
Sure enough….it was amniotic fluid. Of course my first thought was, oh no, what about my platelet levels and what if my baby isn’t ready? They immediately took some blood and began preparing me to have my baby! I was shocked to find out my doctor was not on call and I would have a complete stranger delivering my baby under these circumstances.
I was moved to Labor/Delivery and at this time I asked the nurse if the results of my blood test were back. She said,”I’ll go check, hold on.” She came back and told me the count was only 10,000. I insisted there must be some mistake and to check again. She did and she was right. I feared for my life now. I wondered how I could make it through giving birth without bleeding to death and I was worried sick about my little baby girl.
From that moment on I was surrounded by a whirlwind of specialists telling me about the risks of bleeding and what precautions they were taking. I was horrified. The plan was to get me to about 8 cm then I would get a platelet transfusion right before it was time to push. I progressed quickly and received the transfusion about and hour and 1/2 later. I decided at this point to get some stadol in my IV to help with the pain of pushing. After a few more contractions I felt a lot of pressure. The doc said I was dilated to 9 and to start pushing. She literally reached in and forced my cervix to dilate to 10 so as to get the pushing over with before the platelets “expired.”
I pushed about 2 times and my baby was born. Miraculously enough she weighed 7 lbs. 6 oz which was pretty darn good for only being 36 weeks. She had red hair and was doing fine. I was told that the antibody should run its course in her blood within about a week and should go away. That was such a relief.
I remained in the hospital for 3 days, waiting for my count to rise. It was only at 13K when I left but I didn’t care. I had to get home to take care of my girls. Hannah developed pretty bad jaundice and had to have light therapy at home but is now doing great. She is almost 7 months old now and is a very special little baby. Her last platelet count was 311K.
My platelet count began to slowly rise on its own, without the help of any meds. The last count was 217,000 in August. I will have it checked in November to see if I still have the antibody in my system.
I’ll never forget this experience and the horror of it all. But I would do it all again for my sweet Hannah.
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