Preeclampsia was something I simply glossed over in the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book and I was never told about it by my doctor. I was 19 years old and pregnant with my son. My blood pressure rose over several doctor visits but it was not caught. While being admitted to the hospital at 40 weeks I suddenly had a flurry of nurses in the labor room. I was confused, scared, and the only thing I understood was that I was being put on medicine for my blood pressure. My mother called the rest of the family in tears. I begged to be taken off of the Magnesium Sulfate and was granted it 12 hours after delivering my son who was healthy. The doctor muttered that I had Preeclampsia and that was it. Flash forward 3 years when I'm pregnant with my daughter. The traumatic event that hadÂ occurred while in labor with my son- not even being able to hold him or keep my eyes open or being able to breastfeed, and suffering such a scary thing- left me shaking to think what if, just maybe, I had a repeat.
I decided to do some research and found the Preeclampsia Foundation. The women on the boards offered support and it helped ease my fears, I couldn't be more thankful. I knew what symptoms to look out for and it was my grandmother-in-law who lent me her blood pressure monitor. I switched to a high risk OBGYN and made my concerns very clear. The pregnancy went without any glitches until at 39 weeks when I became ill with a kidney infection. I was admitted because of my fever and then induced because the fever was affecting my daughter. No blood pressure problems, no nothing. I was thinking, "I got away scott free!" And I enjoyed a beautiful delivery with my daughter. I breastfed, I held her, I lived every moment that I missed during my son's birth. 5 days later at home I developed swelling in my legs and feet, they ballooned within 10 minutes. I went to the ER and was told everything was normal and that sometimes women can have edema after delivery then I was sent home. I knew something wasn't right. I told my doctor that, "I just feel sick." 5 more days pass and I started feeling really crummy- a weird feeling in my chest, shortness of breath, and a nasty headache. I couldn't tell if the headache was just from stress or it was some sort of anxiety because my husband was out with his friends that night and I wanted him home. I called him and told him that something is wrong and he said he would be home shortly. I took out the blood pressure monitor and it wouldn't read my blood pressure. I tried it several times until one reading came back with 180/106. I sat down and cried. My husband got home and called my OBGYN who in turn told us to get to the ER asap as they were waiting for me. By the time I had made it to the ER my headache became so bad that I couldn't put words together. My husband had to speak for me and signed all papers because I couldn't hold a pen. 2 days later I was sent home on Labetalol and thus began my new life. 2 months later my cardiologist (who IÂ acquired after my ER visit) took me off of the Labetalol. I learned that I have heart valve disease and that I also have Sponge Kidney Disease (two for the price of one!).
After my second episode of Preeclampsia, I have learned things about myself that I can now take care of. Things happen for a reason and I think it was a lesson that taught me that not everything happens the way it does in the movies but that's okay. I have two beautiful happy and healthy children that I'm lucky to have. If it wasn't for the Preeclampsia Foundation I never would have known what to look for or had the support from other survivors that I needed in my second pregnancy. I wonder if I hadn't gone to the ER that one night, if I hadn't have had a blood pressure monitor or even knew to use one, if I would still be sitting here today.
I experienced a miscarriage at 12 weeks in April 2010. Both my husband and I aren't sure about a future pregnancy but I try not to fear Preeclampsia because I have the knowledge I've gained from both of my experiences. I wish doctors would educate all pregnant women about pregnancy diseases and teach women that it can happen to anyone. For those women who are scared or confused, it will be okay and you can get through it. My advice is to find a doctor who listens to you, keep track of your health and relay it to your doctor, and don't second guess yourself. Trust your gut feelings especially if you feel something might be wrong because even if there isn't, it's better to air on the side of caution.
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