I think a lot of people don't know that eclampsia can hit after giving birth.
I think a lot of people don't know that eclampsia can hit after giving birth. I have spoken about my condition at a Heart and Stroke Foundation event and am now trying to raise awareness for eclampsia. Everything I have read seems to point to mother's dying in the emergency room due to lack of knowledge on this subject. Doctors just don't know what they are looking at.
My story is from April 2008. My husband Chris and I anxioulsy awaited the birth of our first child, we had no idea whether it was a boy or a girl. We were 1 week overdue and our family GP decided it was time to induce me. They put in the gel and I went in to labor like I was supposed to. I seemed to have an unremarkable birth taking only 13 hours from start to the time our beautiful baby girl Jordan Alexandra joined us in the world. I had lots of tearing and there was a minor complication with my epidural called a dural puncture. (This particular complication can cause extreme headaches.)
Jordan was born on Thursday night and we were released from the hospital on Sunday. I still had a nagging headache, but they told me to take some Tylenol to help with the headache and it should clear up within a day or 2 once my spinal fluid regenerated. There were no major flags with my blood pressure and nothing in my urine. My pressure was normal at 120/69 and had been that way my entire pregnancy.
On Monday morning (4 days after giving birth) my husband decided to stay home (by divine intervention) because the previous night had been rough and without out much sleep. I was trying to breastfeed. My sister and my mom came by Monday morning to help out by doing some laundry and to see the baby. I started to feel really unwell by 10:00 a.m. and my arm started ticking and I was having trouble seeing and speaking. We called our family doctor and they advised us to call an ambulance and get to the hospital right away. At this point my family started to dress me, but I could not see, my vision was blurry and when they tried to stand me up I was paralyzed on the left side of my body and fell over. I could not stand up. I still had that excruciating headache, which was now significantly worse than before. The ambulance arrived within 10 minutes of our call and I was at the hospital in another 5. I was not at the hospital for more than 10 minutes when I had my first tonic clonic seizure. The second and third are a blur that I don't really remember happening. While all of this is going on my husband, holding our 4 day old daughter, my sister and my mother are standing listening to the doctors say they have no idea what is wrong with me, but that I suffered a stroke before coming into the hospital that was followed by the seizures and that they need to prepare themselves because I may not make it. Once they stabilized me they sent me to the ICU ward to be looked after until a bed on the maternity ward could be found. I continued to undergo test after test with still no diagnosis. The Head of the Obstetrical department at our hospital said that my problem was not related to the pregnancy. Once I was up on the maternity ward again, my family watched me like hawks. When the nurse took my blood pressure and it was around 140/75 we were a little concerned, but were told not to worry that I had been through so much and was on so many medications that this should regulate after a day or 2. Within 12 hours my blood pressure was at 200/120 and my neurologist felt that my condition definitely had to do with the recent birth of my daughter. He called the Head of Obstetrics at a Mt.Sinai hospital and he advised that I was eclamptic and if not treated immediately with magnesium sulfate my condition would continue to decline and I would die. I was immediately moved back to the ICU where magnesium sulfate was administered for 48 hours. The following day, I was up, walking around, the headache was gone and my vision started to come back. I walked out of the hospital with my now 4 week old baby girl, lucky to be alive.
I spent several months in rehab to regain function in my hand and I still have trouble with it sometimes, but it is a small price to pay to still be here. I give all the credit to my Neurologist for saving me. I was just able to spend my daughter's second birthday swinging in our backyard for hours and listening to her laugh.