PostPartum Pre-Eclampsia (Part 2 of my Birth Story)

Remember that feeling after you’ve given birth?  The one where your contractions stop and you can relax?  The way you can just look at your baby and relax knowing you’re beginning your new life together…well, I wasn’t able to truly enjoy that this time.

I had my son on the 5th of January.  By the 14th I had finally given up on self-medicating for my headaches.  I was discharged from the hospital on the 7th of January with a perfect blood pressure.  My bleeding was controlled.  My munchkin was perfect.  The only symptom I had was a massive headache.  We all felt it may have just been from pushing really hard in labor to give birth to my 10 pounder!  We left with me on Tylenol/Motrin around the clock to keep my headaches somewhat at bay.

I felt bad.  I felt guilty.  People visited.  The kids were excited.  But I couldn’t tolerate ANY sounds without my head throbbing.  Everyone had to be quiet.  I would just go to my bedroom to hide from noise.  My two other sons had January birthdays and I had to make sure they felt loved as well.  I made my 15-year-old his favorite spaghetti dinner for his birthday, all while battling my headache.  My husband and his mother helped me prepare the food and as soon as I could I was laying down relaxing.  My headaches would go away when I laid down…but then would pick back up the minute I was standing!  We had no clue why.  It was frustrating.

Smiling through the pain

However, headaches have happened to me before so I was removing stressors from my life and I was forcing myself to relax (relaxing and not being able to soak in a tub is horrible!!).  My doctor’s office called just to check on me a week after I was discharged from the hospital.  I told her my headaches were excruciating but I didn’t see any other symptoms.  I felt fine.  I looked fine.  I was nursing my son fine.  I just had a bad headache!  She seemed concerned on the phone and told me to come in the following afternoon to see my doctor.  So…my husband was working and I assured him it wouldn’t be a big deal.  I had his mother drive me to the doctor so she could watch my munchkin and I set up after school care for my other kiddos.  Sure enough, they took my blood pressure and it was 170/110!

Every OB appointment during a pregnancy involves a urine sample.  They check you for protein (pre-eclampsia) or sugar (gestational diabetes getting out of hand).  Mine checked out just fine, even with my BP that high.  So…my OB put me on medication for my blood pressure and I was told to return in a couple of days to see how it was.

Two days later – no protein yet again but my BP was 160/100!  I was instructed to go to the Emergency Room.  Thankfully the hospital was wonderful (Northside Cherokee in Canton GA if you’re ever local!) and they right away saw that I had a newborn with me.  I hadn’t even pumped an ounce of milk yet so I had no choice but to keep him with me!  A nurse from Labor & Delivery came over, we had her before & she was super sweet, and she wheeled us over to get set up. My blood pressure was STILL high so my OB (Dr. Crigler) recommended I get admitted for postpartum pre-eclampsia and I undergo Magnesium therapy.  I had been researching ever since my blood pressure was high, so I had an understanding of what the treatment was.  Moms in Mom groups and some of my friends had the best explanation – they said it’s what you would imagine having a coma was like but you could hear everything going on around you.

Before Treatment
My face after finding out my treatment options…

“Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, including preeclampsia, complicate up to 10% of pregnancies worldwide, constituting one of the greatest causes of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. As leaders in women’s health care, ob-gyns play a leading role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hypertension in pregnancy and preeclampsia.” (from the American College of Gynecology)

This is where my nurse Susan (from my Birth Story) comes back into the story!  She was there to greet me & as they were wheeling me into a room with no windows she said “no!  Let’s put her in a room with windows.  She’s going to need them.”  I looked at my husband & we just stared at each other unsure of what I was in for.  Susan has this amazing way of telling you EXACTLY what is going to happen before she even starts looking for a vein or setting things up.  She stands right next to you in your bed and talks you through what she’s going to do and what the treatment could/couldn’t do.  Add in that she had to get this same treatment years ago & she was so comforting.  She even gave me an example that made me laugh from her own experience…she said “I found myself laying there and having a conversation with my grandmother who had been dead for years…that’s when I realized I was given too much!”

Once I was set up with my IV I had to be checked regularly.  You see, Magnesium Sulfate Therapy purposely overloads your body with Magnesium to prevent seizures.  I was put in a room and my older children couldn’t visit.  My friends and family couldn’t visit.  I wasn’t allowed to be alone with my brand new baby.  Susan had to check on me constantly to make sure I didn’t have too much Magnesium.  I also was breastfeeding my son throughout all of this.  He was still so new that all he wanted to do was lay on me so towards the end of my 24-hour treatment he was done with it all.  We all were.  Who wouldn’t be miserable back in a hospital after giving birth dealing with all of this?!

I do have to say…my husband was such a wonderful support through all of this.  I got discharged on Sunday but I was instructed to take it easy still, so I didn’t even drive by myself until the following Friday.  My family and my husband’s family really helped out with the kids and making sure they got to school, played with friends, ate dinners, and were able to maintain some normalcy in their lives.  It was almost a month of depending on others to do what I considered MY job.

Discharge Time!
We got to escape after two days in the hospital!

I’m still on medication for my blood pressure, as it’s not 100% perfect but it’s getting there.  Each day I feel more like my normal self.  I have a great team of people helping me heal and making sure I get back to normal as soon as possible!  My little guy is doing wonderful & I’m glad I didn’t have to undergo my treatment with him inside of me…I can’t even imagine how uncomfortable that would be!!

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