‘There is nothing that can be done to bring my beautiful baby boy back. But I want to make sure everyone knows about the devastating complications of pre-eclampsia, and what to do about it.’
Brooke was pregnant with her third child Kody when she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
And although she’d had the condition during her previous pregnancy, she wasn’t prepared for what was to come.
Devastatingly, Kody lost his life at just seven months old, after being born prematurely at 27 weeks. His lungs hadn’t fully developed, leaving him needing multiple interventions at several hospitals, including Great Ormond Street and the Royal Brompton.
Pre-eclampsia affects up to 6% of pregnancies in the UK, and 8-10% of pre-term births result from hypertensive disorders. The condition affects blood flow to the placenta, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the baby. This can lead to foetal growth restriction, low birth weight and preterm birth.
Here, Brooke tells us more about her journey, and warns others to watch out for the signs of the deadly condition.
‘I was 15 weeks pregnant when I had my first scan. Things seemed to be going okay, until I was around 25 weeks, when I started getting severe heartburn and headaches. I didn’t think much of it, and put my headaches down to problems with my wisdom teeth.
‘I then started waking up with swelling in my face, particularly around my eyes. I searched online ‘swelling in pregnancy’, but all that came up was that it was probably normal.
‘I also read about reduced urine output but told myself I didn’t have it. Perhaps I was in denial because pre-eclampsia complications with my eldest daughter Lexxi meant she was born at 33 weeks.
‘Lexxi was born at 33 weeks by emergency c-section. I also had postnatal depression, which made things even tougher.
‘It was when I was 26 weeks with Kody that my midwife took my blood pressure and immediately phoned an ambulance. I was blue lighted to hospital – leaving my family at home.
‘Within days, Kody was born, weighing just 1lb 10oz. He then spent the rest of his bouncing between high dependency and intensive care, while doctors battled to save him.
‘Kody was diagnosed with chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, which took its toll on his body. We were told multiple times to prepare for the worst, but Kody kept on fighting. In the hope of saving him, the doctors gave him a tracheostomy, where they made a small hole in his windpipe to help him breathe.
‘But it wasn’t enough. My baby Kody passed away at seven months old.
‘I just want everyone to know the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia as some of them are normal to pregnancy feelings. Pre-eclampsia can happen to anyone, at any time during pregnancy, and even up to six weeks after.’
Brooke also had pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy with her two-year-old daughter, Destiny. She was hospitalised from diagnosis at 28 weeks until she gave birth by emergency c-section at 36 weeks and three days.
Destiny has a rare congenital heart defect called congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCTGA), as well as a hole in her heart (VSD) and pulmonary stenosis (narrowing of the pulmonary valve).
‘We all say that Destiny is a gift from Kody. She’s our special little girl. She’s funny, loving, and so playful! She loves playing with her big brother, Jayden, and sister, Lexxi, as well as mummy reading stories to her, and watching shows like Peppa Pig and Teletubbies!’
What are the symptoms and potential effects of pre-eclampsia?
Have you had pre-eclampsia? What was your experience?
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