Where it all started?

On March 12, 2014 the car I was in was involved in minor fender bender, the second one within a few months. This time around we were hit from behind, there was very little damage to both cars and everyone walked / drove away. However this meant a trip to my doctor the next day just to check. I was excited to see my little Bean again but a bit nervous having to explain that I was involved in a traffic accident again. They gave me a non stress test, basically they monitored Bean’s heart beat for 40 minutes. With the exception of one little blip where the heart beat was not found or simply dipped everything was fine.

I do not know if this was the first sign of things to come but it does stick out to me. I had asked the nurse why the blip happened and she said that the heart rate goes down when baby is sleeping. Ok, I understand that, but off the chart? It only happened once so I was no too concerned.

I was told to stay away from traffic accidents.

On March 26, I went for my scheduled appointment. They took my blood pressure twice, but it came out normal.  Then my fundus was measured. (basically the uterus was measured but from the outside). The measurement usually correlates with the week of the pregnancy, so if you are 34 weeks pregnant your fundus should measure 34cm. Mine was measuring at 23, it grew from 19 but the problem was I was 25 weeks pregnant. Of course there are some arguments that this measurement can be inaccurate and that it can vary depending on who is measuring. The nurse however was flustered at the measurement. The Doc then came to do the ultra sound. Bean was measuring at 23 weeks. Defiantly IUGR. I would be monitored closely and my next appointment was in two weeks.

On March 30th I was woken up by a brutal headache. I have never experienced migraines before, but I figured if I ever had one this would have been it. It was so bad I could not go back to sleep for several hours. I decided that if the headache was still around in the morning I would call in sick to work and head over to the doctor. It was gone by the morning and I went to work. In the afternoon shortly after lunch I got a mild headache,  it stuck around for a few hours, and then for a few hours more after that but subsided by the evening. The next morning I woke up and for some unknown reason check my weight. 96.3 kg. I was also dealing with the same mild headache. It lasted all day. I headed to the doctor after work to report this persistent headache.

The nurse called me in and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had a constant headache and without further questions she took me straight to take my blood pressure. She took my blood pressure three times on my left arm, scrunched up her face, told me to relax and then took it twice more on my right arm. My blood pressure was mildly high. The doc then talked to me and asked how my back was doing, any pains in my arms/shoulders and if there was anything else I needed to tell him. I told him I did have lower back pain and that the night before my severe headache I had a really bad pain in my right shoulder. I figured I’d also tell him about the pains around my tummy every time I rolled over in my sleep. He prescribed a weak headache medicine, a patch to put on my back to help with the pain and anti contraction medication and sent me on my way.

I seriously started to suspect pre-emclampsia.

The next day I was still dealing with a mild headache but not as bad as before. I also emailed both my mother and mother in law and told them about my high blood pressure and my suspicions. I also messaged my Japanese friend to ask her if she would join me at my next appointment (which was less than a week away) because I suspected some big medicial terms and complications were going to be thrown around.  That night I skyped with my mother and once again shared my suspecions just in case it did escalate. I didn’t want her to be caught by surprise, but I also was positive that the outcome will be OK.

The following day, two days after I had gone to the doctor, I woke up with the mild headache. Two days of medication and this headache was still around. Little read flags were waving in my head. I wondered where my weight was. 98.6, a 2.3kg (about 5lbs) increase in my weight over two days! I may be pregnant but there is no way that was normal. I remember reading that sudden weight gain was a symptom of pre-emclampsia and that anything over 2 pounds within a week should be suspect. If two pounds was suspect, then 5 was downright criminal.

I went into work and did some research to confirm my suspicions and to translate some terms into Japanese to prepare myself for a visit to the doctor. I asked my co-worker to call the clinic for me and tell them of the headaches and weight gain and ask them if I should go in. When I told my co-worker about my sudden weight gain she asked me, “did you eat too much?” I honestly wondered in what world you could eat too much and gain 5 pounds over night. I calmly informed her that “No, I didn’t eat too much.” She didn’t seem to think that the weight gain was worth mentioning, but I urged her to do it anyways. The nurse she talked to told her that I should go in that morning, so I took some time off and headed out to the doctor.

They took my blood pressure again and did another non-stress test. My little Bean’s heart rate was faint but strong.

The doctor talked to me and my husband and said that I may have “Toxiema” which was another word for pre-emclampsia. My doctor’s clinic is a small one and not equipped to handle a complication such as mine, further more it didn’t have an NICU and so if my little one was born per-maturely the clinic would not be able to handle it. He also suggested that I needed counseling and needed to be monitored for my weight gain. (Honestly I wanted to roll my eyes at this, what do they all thing I am doing? Sitting in font of vats of haggen das and stuffing my face? This is Japan I can’t even get a pint of haggen das if I wanted to…) He did say there was a possibility of being hospitalised in order to be monitored.

The doctor referred me to the city hospital which had an NICU. He wrote a letter for the doctor there and told me to go the following morning.