Kristy Watson admits accepting her pregnancy as a single mum wasn’t easy, but her growing bump gave her a strength she didn’t know she had. She was ready to be a mumma.
But at just over 32 weeks, as the joy of birth was growing ever closer, Kristy was given devastating news – her precious little boy no longer had a heartbeat. And as she reeled from the loss, she began her own battle for life – against the fatal pregnancy condition, pre-eclampsia.
A miracle baby
Kristy says being pregnant was the most beautiful experience she ever had. A huge achievement after thinking she would never be able to carry a baby, following three previous miscarriages.
“But my pregnancy almost killed me,” she explains. “I knew from 26 weeks something wasn’t right, from the horrible swelling in my feet hands and face, the headaches that lasted weeks on end, the blurry vision, my blood pressure going up and down I knew that these weren’t just normal ‘pregnancy symptoms’. But after numerous amounts of doctors visits, in and out of hospital, even trying to contact another hospital for a second opinion I was told it was just normal or I’d get ‘I’m actually not to sure’ and sent home.
“For six weeks I was sent home after going in every time with the same thing and having every symptom of pre-eclampsia.”
Kristy went back and forth to hospital pleading for someone to take notice of her symptoms. She says she knew something wasn’t right. “The Tuesday before I was in again, for the exact same things as every other time. I felt stupid I felt like they were just thinking I was complaining about my pregnancy but in reality I knew something was just not right. They told me they were going to give me an ultrasound but the doctor was in a meeting and I had to wait. Wait two hours to be sent home once again with no bloods or ultrasound done, just to take Panadol for my headaches.
“That was three days before I felt my son never move again. Three days before I got told that I had severe pre-eclampsia and that my baby had no heartbeat. Three days before I had to be induced and be in labour for 12 hours before I finally hold my breathless and lifeless son.
“I felt my son’s last movements on the 26th of July around 8.30pm to then not be able to find heartbeat the next morning at 6am. I had to go from having my whole lifeline, my world move around and be healthy in my belly to then be induced to deliver my sleeping baby.”
Kristy said she had heard of pre-eclampsia, but like many women didn’t know much about it. And she had no idea that it could be fatal for both her and her baby.
“The worst thing about it that I didn’t get told I had it until I had the nurse sit on the end of my bed at 32 weeks and five days in front of my ultrasound to tell me my precious little Kaycen no longer had a heartbeat. No words you ever want to hear, no words you ever imagine hearing so far into your pregnancy.”
The grieving mum had lost her precious boy, but her fight was just beginning. Her kidneys began to fail, her blood pressure was so high she was close to having a stroke and body continued fighting for a week.
Kristy now battles the daily questions, wondering why her son had to die.
“If only they had done a ultrasound that day to see that my placenta was failing, if only they had done my bloods to see how toxic my bloods really were at that stage. It may not, it may not had changed the outcome of what happen but the thing is I will never ever know.
“I don’t want to play the blame game but to be so neglected and feel like I wasn’t listened to by people who I put in the hands of the life I was creating and to be let down as much as I was is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. I want to raise awareness so no mother, no family ever has to go through the pain, heartbreak and loss I’ve had to go through.”
Kristy says she wants other mums to listen to their instincts, and make sure they feel heard by their caregivers.
“I want people to know my story so they know when their gut is telling them that something is not right to fight for answers, to travel back and forth until they know what is going on, to make sure they are listened too. Because I now have to go home to a nursery full of everything I needed to raise my little boy now to a empty cot that my son never got to lay in, to books I never got to read him, to his favourite outfit I never got to dress him in all because I was not heard. I now go home empty-handed with a heart so broken that it’s going to take a long time to heal.
“Please listen to your bodies. These little lives we create inside our wonderful bodies rely on us, we have to look after ourselves just as much and I couldn’t imagine any other mother having to feel like they failed there child like I’ve had too. I know my little Kaycen will live on through me and everyone’s hearts he touched.”
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- proteinuria (protein in the urine)
While you may not notice these early symptoms a doctor or midwife should pick them up during a routine appointment.
- sudden swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands
- severe headaches
- vision problems, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
- pain in the upper abdomen (just below the ribs)
- shortness of breath
- nausea and vomiting
- excessive weight gain due to fluid retention
- feeling generally unwell
Make sure you read about the Melbourne hospital that’s now offering a world first pre-eclampsia blood test.