My new normal

As you may already know, I had a baby – a daughter named Layla Sorella Valenti-Golis.  That’s the good (nay, wonderful!) news.  The bad news is that she was born way too early; I developed severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and had to deliver Layla when I was 29 weeks pregnant.

I was hospitalized after a routine exam showed I had dangerously high blood pressure – Andrew and I assumed it was all an overreaction because I didn’t feel sick.  Even though the doctors were telling us I wouldn’t leave the hospital until I gave birth and that I might need to deliver in days, we didn’t really buy it.  We even pooh-poohed the neonatologist who spoke with us about what we should expect having such a premature baby.  We planned as if I would carry Layla to term, bringing DVDs and books to the hospital and starting to create a schedule of visits from family and friends.

But within two days it became clear that I was sick – really sick.  All of the pre-eclamptic symptoms I hadn’t had previously were suddenly overwhelming.  My doctor told us we had to deliver.  So I was given magnesium sulfate for my blood pressure (which basically makes you feel incredibly shitty and confused) and my labor was induced with Pitocin.  We tried to stay positive, but after a few hours we were told that my liver was in danger of failing.  I was rushed into an emergency c-section, and Layla was born weighing just 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

The next 24 hours were as close to hell as I could imagine.  We waited hours to find out if Layla was going to be okay, and even once we knew she was stable I was too sick to visit her.  The magnesium drip made me so confused that I kept asking Andrew what our daughter’s name was, I could hardly move because of the pain, and I was swollen with almost twenty pounds of water weight.  The swelling was so bad, in fact, that when a nurse tried to take blood her finger left an indent in my arm more than an inch deep.  It took hours and two anesthesiologists to find a vein.  I thought I was going to die; then almost 24 hours after delivering when I saw how little Layla was, I thought she was going to die too.

Eight weeks later, amazingly, the fog is starting to lift.  The road has been a slow one littered with setbacks, but today Layla is doing incredibly well; she weighs over 4 pounds and we’re hoping she’ll be home from the hospital soon.

Read the rest here.

Join the Conversation

  • F.Toth

    Very sorry for what you have had to go through, so exhausting and saddening. Wishing you and Layla a full and speedy recovery.

  • sarahsimone

    Jessica, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this with us. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this. I’ll be sending best wishes for you, Andrew and Layla!

  • Danielle

    So sorry for what you and your family had to/are enduring. Hoping the best for a good recovery for you all. Just remember that the hardships we face prepare us for those who will need us in the future. Good luck.

  • Angela Halliwell

    This is such an authentic article — I’m so impressed with what you have shared with your readers. Thank you! And as someone who endured some really scary, traumatic, childbirth-related issues (both my own and my newborn’s — he’s now 3 1/2 and totally healthy and fantastic by the way!!) I so appreciate your story and what you’ve shared. I’ll look forward to more news and updates on all 3 of you! Wishing you and your family all the very, very best…