TMI Warning: This post contains details about pregnancy that you may consider to be too much information. Don't say I didn't warn you!
After a week on prednisone, I had an appointment on Friday morning to see my rheumatologist. I like my rheumatologist, but honestly? This appointment wasn't the greatest. I told him I thought the prednisone was helping somewhat, but I was surprised by how much pain I was still experiencing. He examined my joints and seemed a lot more concerned with the pain in my hands, saying that the pain in my knees and hips was likely to decrease when the baby was born (and I weigh less; hence less pressure on those joints). And that's good, but I told him that I was quite concerned about how my hips would fare during labor. In response to that he basically said that he thought labor pains would overshadow any joint pain - which, of course, was not particularly reassuring.
He did say that if I got an epidural he didn't think there would be much chance of damaging my joints during labor, so that is good. We also talked about options for meds after the birth while breastfeeding, but it turns out there aren't significantly more options than I have right now. So it was a little disappointing to think about dealing with this joint pain and a newborn. But he did say that he thought there was a good possibility that I would get a couple of weeks of relief from pain after the birth, maybe as much as 2 or 4 months, so that would be good.
But the worst part of the appointment was the routine blood pressure they took at the beginning. It was high. My rheumatologist didn't seem too concerned about it - he said we would keep an eye on it - but I decided to call my OB and see if they thought I should be concerned. My OB decided to have me come in and get checked out that afternoon. And when I got checked out, I ended up getting checked in to labor and delivery.
They put monitors on my belly for the baby and took my blood pressure every 10 minutes for several hours. They initiated yet another 24 hour jug-o-pee test. They drew some blood. They were trying to determine if the spike in my blood pressure came from the prednisone and/or if it was being caused by my pregnancy. In the end, they kept me overnight and through the entire next day to continue monitoring me.
Apparently, just having an autoimmune condition puts you at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. Though the prednisone might also be contributing to the spike in my blood pressure, the 24 hour urine test confirmed that the level of protein in my urine is increasing. That means that my liver and kidneys are not working as well as they should. So I've been diagnosed with mild preeclampsia, which means that it might not be safe for me or the baby if I stay pregnant much longer.
Since I am not quite at 37 weeks yet (which is full term) I was sent home on strict bed rest to try to give our little guy a bit longer to cook before he is delivered. I have to lay on my side at all times - which increases blood flow and significantly improves my blood pressure. I am only allowed to get up to pee.
All this immobility and limited positions to lay in has not been easy on my joints so far. But I'm just trying to take it one day at a time (or sometimes one hour at a time) because I know that the longer I am able to stay pregnant the better it will be for our son.