Winchester, Va. - An average woman already has a lot to worry about when she's pregnant, but when you throw diabetes into the mix, things can get a little complicated
"My pregnancy was perfect. No classic symptoms, no morning sickness, no cravings,” said Jessica Elkins, a nurse at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.
But Elkins is a Type-1 Diabetic, and has been since she was 8 years old. In the 32nd week of her pregnancy, her diabetes started causing problems.
"I was at work in the ER, getting ready to go through with an intubation, and I felt a tightness in my stomach," said Elkins.
Elkins was experiencing Preeclampsia, a disease that can affect diabetics toward the end of their pregnancy.
"The problem with it is that it can be a very short disease, and people get extremely sick, extremely fast,” said Cathleen McCoy, the physician that oversaw Elkins’ unique case.
Elkins was extremely dutiful in monitoring her diabetes during her pregnancy, but before conceiving, she was your average, long-term diabetic patient: tired of the finger-pricks and exhausted from the constant monitoring.
"I wasn't the most compliant previous to finding out that I was pregnant with her,” Elkins admitted, “but that just completely changed after I found out I was."
"What we find is that almost all patients are motivated once their pregnant, because they would do anything to have a healthy baby,” she said. “But if we could actually get them motivated some months before - so contraception before your truly ready is one of the key issues."
It is issues like this have caused the Affordable Care Act to place a major emphasis on preventative care. Jessica's situation is the kind of example where life threatening complications might have been better avoided with even just a few months of preparation.
After the onset of Preeclampsia, Elkins spent 20 days at Winchester Medical Center. At 34 weeks, she delivered a tiny but healthy Baby Amelia.
Because she was born six weeks early, Amelia is spending her first few weeks in the NICU at Winchester Medical Center. But doctors say both mother and baby are doing just fine.