Adriana had severe early onset pre-eclampsia in her first pregnancy. Her experience was when she was living in Cyprus.

This was my first pregnancy and although it wasn’t easy it wasn’t really difficult either. I suffer from anxiety and the father wasn’t involved so I was anxious a lot. I had never really had issues with high blood pressure either. I experienced bleeding at 10 weeks and went to hospital where they found my blood pressure was high and wouldn’t come down. I didn’t have a very good experience in hospital and it was a stressful situation. I ended up discharging myself and seeing my doctor who immediately placed me on blood pressure tablets and I was monitored it at home where it was a little high but not a cause for concern. I had more bleeding which again was not a concern I also had nausea and sickness throughout.

Looking back I had all the signs and symptoms of having severe morning sickness – I lost about 4kg in my first trimester and was sick at least 3 times a day until about 5.5 months. I didn’t really put any significant weight on in pregnancy and I now know that my placenta never worked properly which again can lead to pre-eclampsia.

All my appointments were fine until I got to week 21 and before every appointment I had to have my blood pressure, weight and urine checked. I never had any protein in my urine and I had no swelling but my blood pressure was found to be high so they told me to make sure I took 3 tablets a day and to see them in three weeks. I was having a lot of what I thought was gas and indigestion but after reading other stories it seems it is also an early symptom. At 24 weeks my bp had gone to 177 so they told me to come back on the Monday to check again where it was the same. I was urgently referred to a nephrologist the next day who found it had gone to 190 and he wrote me a letter to be admitted the next day after my baby scan.

The scan found that my placenta had stopped working and the baby was getting less and less nutrients and would eventually stop altogether so he said I would need to go to hospital and be constantly monitored and the baby would be delivered early probably around 30 weeks. I went straight to hospital where I had a meltdown and my blood pressure was 227 and they took me to the specialist mother and baby unit (in Nicosia, Cyprus – where I was living) where they also had the neonatal unit. Whilst there I went downhill quite fast and had headaches and vomiting and they were really concerned I would start having seizures. My blood pressure wasn’t coming down despite all the medication.

Early next morning I had a scan to check the baby and it was found that I had lost fluid and he barely had any left. I was told I could die and that my baby would be dead within 24 hours if he was left in the womb. I went straight to theatre for an emergency c section and baby Ezekiel was born at about 24 weeks weighing just 450g. He was the smallest baby born alive there and possibly in Cyprus. He fought so hard for three days but sadly passed away due to how tiny he was. He was just perfect. I got to see him when he was alive and I got to hold him when he passed away and that meant so much. I had to stay in hospital for 9 days due to my blood pressure as although it was getting lower it was still at dangerous levels.

The only good thing was that my bloods were all clear and so was my urine but I sometimes wish there was something so I knew why my blood pressure stayed high. They have since said they think I had high blood pressure before it was just not picked up on. I saw a cardiologist and my heart is fine and now I’m in constant contact with a nephrologist.

Writing this in 2024, I am now in early pregnancy with my second baby. I am on blood pressure meds and am considered high risk so am being very closely monitored. It’s going to be a long road ahead but I’m determined to raise awareness as I never knew how serious pre-eclampsia is. I’m not just dealing with the loss of my son but also how sick I was and I wouldn’t want anyone to experience this. The work that Action on pre-eclampsia does is amazing and I know what how to prepare myself to give my second pregnancy the best possible chance.